EU Resettlement Network

Universities, higher education & resettlement

Among those identified by UNHCR as in need of resettlement, there are many refugees who completed their secondary education or were pursuing higher education studies when they left their country. Research with refugees and the experiences of service providers indicate that, amongst refugees who have completed secondary school, there is strong desire to attend university. Significant numbers of refugees are also highly educated professionals with a desire to re-establish their lives and professional identities. However, refugee access to higher education (education beyond secondary level) remains limited - opportunities for refugees in countries of first asylum to pursue higher education are scarce, and the educational and professional needs of higher educated refugees do not play a prominent role in resettlement programmes.

In its Education Strategy 2012-16, UNHCR formulated a new education strategy as a core component of its protection and durable solutions mandate. The new education strategy aims to ensure that the opportunities for refugees to participate in post-secondary education are expanded in the coming years. In this promising process, the role of universities and multi-agency cooperation in refugee resettlement process is set to grow.

Worldwide there are various programmes and projects in which higher education institutions, often in collaboration with other agencies, are addressing the needs of higher educated refugees and advancing their access to higher education. There are a number of ways in which universities are engaged in the support of higher education for refugees. Provision of scholarships and bursaries, orientation and support schemes, hosting threatened scholars, provision of distance education programmes for refugees, and the volunteer work of students active in the field of refugee issues are some of the examples.

Links to examples of these types of projects and initiatives on higher education, refugees and resettlement can be found in this section of the website. These pages are envisaged as a resource for resettlement practitioners and other actors having a stake in higher education for refugees, and a place to share good practice models. Please click on one of the four thematic categories below to access the information:

• Supporting refugees to access higher education

• Supporting refugees at universities

• University students supporting refugees

• Resources - reports, media articles, past projects & bibliography

You can also watch 2 short films about refugees, universities and higher education in the Netherlands produced by Foundation for Refugee Students UAF.  Whilst the information gathered on these pages is not exhaustive, we hope it gives an overview of the many different ways in which universities can alleviate the barriers that refugees experience in accessing higher education, promote refugee participation in higher education and contribute to advancing the role of higher education in refugee resettlement.

This section of the website has been developed by the Foundation for Refugee Students UAF in the framework of the ‘Linking-In EU Resettlement’ project.