UBC scholarship for Iranian students commemorates plane crash victims

The University of British Columbia has established a scholarship in memory of the victims of the recent plane crash in Iran.

The Iranian Student Memorial Award will provide one Iranian student each year with $2,400 to help cover the cost of school.

Four victims of the crash — Mehran Abtahi, Niloofar Razzaghi, Zeynab Asadi Lari and Mohammadhossein Asadi Lari — had ties to the university.

UBC is providing $50,000 to the scholarship fund, and the Iranian-Canadian community contributed a further $10,000, said Mostafa Abedinifard, an assistant professor in the department of Asian studies.

"I'm sure that this would be really good news to the Iranian community," he said.

"As someone who was a student just a few years ago, I can imagine how this could be very helpful and very encouraging to the students and also inspiring.

"I feel really glad the university has come forward to do this."

On Jan. 8, 176 people were killed when Ukrainian International Airlines Flight PS752 was shot down by the Iranian military outside of Tehran. Fifty-seven of them were Canadian citizens and 29 were permanent residents.

On Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government will give families $25,000 for each victim killed in the crash, to help cover immediate needs like funeral arrangements and travel.

UBC is one of several Canadian universities to establish scholarships in memory of the victims. Members of the public can also contribute to the scholarship fund on UBC's website.

Around 1,100 Iranian students attend UBC.

"We hope that this new Iranian Student Memorial Award will help us to memorialize those we lost by providing new opportunities for students to flourish and succeed here at UBC," university president Santa Ono said in a statement.