B.C. officials seek clarity after Saudi Arabia to reportedly remove students

Feud develops after Canada’s global affairs minister tweeted for release of human rights activists

B.C. officials are trying to understand a report from Saudi Arabia’s state news agency that the country will be pulling its international students from Canadian universities following last week’s recent diplomatic row.

On Monday, the Al-Arabiya news agency reported the government will be transferring students enrolled in “training, scholarships and fellowships” programs in Canada to other countries.

According to Canadian Bureau for International Education, roughly 10,000 students are in Canada from Saudi Arabia.

About 2,450 Saudi students are enrolled at B.C. schools from kindergarten to post-secondary, the ministry of advanced education told Black Press Media. It did not provide a breakdown.

“Our first and foremost concern is the well-being of all students. Our universities, colleges and institutes are working to clarify the situation and determine how current and incoming students might be affected. It’s important that impacted students receive support as needed,” an emailed statement read.

READ MORE: Saudi Arabia’s diplomatic dispute with Canada, explained

University of British Columbia president Santa Ono said in an email the university is working to clarify the situation and determine how many current and incoming UBC students might be affected.

Universities receive three to four times more fees per coure credit from international students than domestic.

Black Press Media has reached out to other post-secondary institutions for comment.

The tension between Canada and Saudi Arabia erupted last Thursday when Canada’s foreign minister Chrystia Freeland sent out a tweet about human rights activist Samar Badawi. Her brother is a blogger who was convicted of “insulting Islam” and sentenced in 2014 to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes.

“Canada is gravely concerned about additional arrests of civil society and women’s rights activists in Saudi Arabia, including Samar Badawi. We urge the Saudi authorities to immediately release them and all other peaceful human rights activists,” the tweet read.

A similar tweet was sent by the Global Affairs Canada.

Saudi Arabia has since expelled Canada’s ambassador to the country, Dennis Horak, pulled back its own ambassador, and frozen all trade with Canada.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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