Higher education’s possibilities for refugees.

‘Europe’s continuing refugee crisis has prompted a range of responses to ease the transition of displaced students into higher education. German universities will admit more than 50,000 Syrian students once they have been granted rights of asylum; the Institute for International Education (IIE) is building a network of universities that will offer places to refugees settling in North America; and similar initiatives are planned elsewhere. 

But what of those who are not able to resettle in a host country? The United Nations estimates that the average time in an emergency camp is 17 years; older camps already have a university-aged generation who were born there and who have never left. Now that more than 50 million people across the world are displaced by conflict and violence, a condition of permanent transit will become common, requiring in turn new approaches to transnational education. 

For young adults, every year spent in a transit camp waiting for permanent resettlement is a loss in educational opportunity. Alvaro Mendonça e Moura, Portugal’s permanent representative at the UN, stresses the need for policies that recognise the broader implications of such damage: loss of personal motivation; rising levels of criminality; inducement for radicalisation and diminishing capacity for post-conflict reconstruction. While middle and high-income economies are headed for an average of 50 per cent of young adults continuing into some form of higher education, the UN estimates that fewer than 1 per cent of refugees have the equivalent opportunity. Seen in this way, the denial of educational opportunity to an individual has an aftershock that will damage many others.’ – Times Higher Education


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