University of Guelph sign on a brick wallThe University of Guelph is reaching out to its international students from Saudi Arabia, offering support and assistance during a current dispute between the governments of Saudi Arabia and Canada.

According to news reports, the Saudi Arabian government has told Saudi students to withdraw from Canadian colleges and universities, and either transfer to schools in other countries or return home.

About 37 current and entering U of G students are affected, mostly graduate students. An additionally 13 students are enrolled in our English Language Program, which is a pathway to our undergraduate degree programs.

“We are concerned for our students. Many of them are in the middle of their programs and research, and many of them are here with their families,” said Charlotte Yates, provost and vice-president (academic).

“At this time, there are still many uncertainties. We are assessing the situation and determining how to best provide support and assistance, as well as obtaining more information and clarification.”

The affected students contribute to advancing knowledge at U of G through active teaching and research, Yates said.  As well, about nine Saudi students are enrolled in English language programs through U of G’s Open Learning and Educational Support.

“U of G strives to be a global knowledge institution,” Yates said. “International students add to the diversity of U of G campuses and to the learning experience for all students.”

International students also enhance U of G’s international reputation and are ambassadors for the University and Canada once they return home, she says.

Recruiting international students and talent is a component of strategic plans at U of G and most other Canadian universities.

Overall, about 15,000 Saudi students study in Canada on scholarships, grants or funded trainee programs; accompanying family members bring the number to 20,000, according to Universities Canada.

U of G graduate students from Saudi Arabia are encouraged to contact Ben Bradshaw, assistant vice-president (graduate studies), 519-824-4120, Ext. 58460, or

Undergraduate students should contact Yassin Sagnia, acting international student adviser, 519-824-4120, Ext. 58686, or