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The Push to Expand Refugee Access to Higher Education

Editor’s Note: Scroll down to see a multimedia report on the conference at the bottom of this article.

BERLIN—A conference held this week in advance of World Refugee Day emphasized an often-neglected aspect of refugee needs—higher education.

Titled “The Other 1 Percent—Refugees at Institutions for Higher Education Worldwide,” the conference was supported by the German Federal Foreign Office, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), and UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency.

The conference featured many students supported by the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative, or DAFI, as the scholarships are usually known.

Current estimates put the proportion of refugees in higher education at 1 percent. A call to action at the end of the conference advocated for increasing that number to 15 percent. A non-binding “Global Compact on Refugees,” adopted in December 2018 by the United Nations, seeks to improve international cooperation on refugee issues and to improve refugee access to higher education and jobs.

The call to action will be discussed further in the Global Refugee Forum, in Geneva, Switzerland, on December 17 to 18, 2019, where progress on the compact will also be considered.


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