UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has launched a first-of-its kind platform providing verified information on higher education programs available to refugees worldwide.
Developed in response to needs expressed by refugee students, the UNHCR Opportunities site intends to provide a global database of reliable, up-to-date information on refugee-eligible, scholarship programs both in their current countries of asylum and abroad.
“There has always been a need to centralize information on opportunities available to refugees, especially education opportunities. For most of us refugees, education is the means we use to keep hope and move forward,” said Arash Bordbar, a refugee in Australia.
“Having a platform where we can see different opportunities and match them with our own expertise and aspirations can change the way we can and will contribute to the societies we live in”.
Only three per cent of refugees have access to higher education globally and many refugees may also not be aware of tertiary education programs available to them in their host countries or abroad. This digital platform aims to fill that gap.
As part of its education strategy, UNHCR and partners are also working to ensure that 15 per cent of young refugee women and men can access the benefits of higher education by the year 2030.
“Higher education opportunities are very limited for refugees, but they are life-changing. They can help equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives. We hope more universities and academic institutions will come forward and offer scholarships for refugees,” said UNHCR’s Assistant High Commissioner for Protection, Gillian Triggs.
The Opportunities platform also aims to support the Global Compact on Refugees’ objectives in expanding third country solutions for refugees - alleviating some of the pressures on developing regions which are hosting 85 per cent of the world’s refugees.
“Opportunities to study abroad also complement humanitarian admissions and resettlement programs by facilitating safe and legal entry of refugees to other countries. Study routes not only support their empowerment but also help with finding them long-term solutions,” said Triggs.
Currently, the portal already covers some 20 programs offered by various education providers in over 60 countries, with UNHCR encouraging more universities to join the platform. Every service provider and program is verified independently by UNHCR prior to posting.
The portal will launch in two separate phases. The first phase launched this week focuses on higher education opportunities in line with UNHCR’s Education Strategy and the Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways developed by UNHCR and partners.
The second phase will launch next year and will feature third-country labor mobility opportunities for skilled refugees.
UNHCR’s Opportunities portal can be accessed here: https://services.unhcr.org/opportunities/