UBC president Santa Ono says campus officials are "providing supports" for students from Saudi Arabia

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      The recent diplomatic tussle between Canada and Saudi Arabia is creating some challenges for the University of British Columbia.

      Today in a public statement, president Santa Ono revealed that there are about 280 new and returning students with Saudi Arabian citizenship.

      "Understandably, many of our students have questions about how the current dispute between Canada and Saudi Arabia will affect them now and in the future, and we are working hard to help them manage with the limited information that is available, and to provide individual support as they consider the next steps for their studies," Ono said. "Students in need of support are encouraged to contact an International Student Advisor at isa@students.ubc.ca or 604-822-5021."

      These 280 Saudi students are enrolled in English-language undergraduate, postgraduate, and graduate programs at UBC.

      About 80 percent are sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Cultural Bureau.

      The Saudi government announced that it will transfer its students to other countries after Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Global Affairs Canada tweeted messages in support of jailed peaceful Saudi dissidents, most notably writer Raif Badawi and his sister Samar.

      "I appreciate this is a time of stress and uncertainty for UBC’s Saudi Arabian student population and I want to reassure them that we are doing all we can to provide required supports during this evolving scenario," Ono emphasized. "This is a difficult time for all of our Saudi Arabian students, academics and their families. Our hope is that the dispute can be resolved to allow our students to continue their studies here at UBC and to remain an important part of our community."

      UBC charges Canadian students and permanent residents $176.45 per credit in most undergraduate programs. For the same education, international students pay $1,256.33 per credit. (For a breakdown between different programs, visit the UBC website.)

      The Canadian Bureau for International Education has estimated that there about 10,000 Saudi students are in Canada, though other estimates have reached as high as 16,000.

      The B.C. Ministry of Advanced Education told Black Press earlier this week that there are about 2,450 Saudi students in B.C., ranging from kindergarten to postsecondary schools.