In what is nothing short of a global crisis, there are now over 65 million displaced people around the world. The crisis in Syria alone accounts for 10 million displaced people, with four million of these resettled overseas. Among those millions are students whose futures are at risk of being lost forever without access to higher education.
“The single most important word for us is ‘unprecedented’,” begins Allan Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education, speaking about the US-based organisation’s efforts to help refugees. “This is the biggest displaced student crisis maybe in our hundred years of history.”
And the numbers are indeed staggering. According to IIE, as many as 200,000 university-aged students have been disconnected from higher education due to the crisis. That’s almost four times the student population of New York University.
To help with refugee students’ transition into education, IIE set up a Syria Consortium in 2012, which has helped hundreds of Syrian students with scholarships at partner institutions, test preparation courses and top-up grants. The demand for these resources, however, has been overwhelming. The last round offering 32 scholarships received more than 2,600 applications.
The volume of refugee students looking to enrol presents an array of challenges education institutions. Turkey – the country hosting the most Syrian refugees – already struggles with capacity issues in its cramped universities. Almost two million Turkish students take the university entrance exam each year, and less than half secure a space.
“Now there is this whole new population that is being added to the demand for the university places, so it kind of compounds the issue,” says Melissa Abache, global engagement manager at Koç University in Istanbul, one member of IIE’s Syria Consortium.
Without knowledge of the local language, refugees face great hurdles resettling in a new country. Without it, “finding work, studying, making friends, and feeling part of the community is extremely difficult”, says Gonzalo Peralta, executive director of Languages Canada.
The national association’s member schools collaborated to offer more than 15,500 student weeks to refugee students in 2016 to help them progress with their language learning. However, only 2,500-3,000 weeks were taken up by 135 students, according to Peralta.
Sep 27, 2020Bangladesh is hosting more than one million Rohingya, a mainly Muslim minority community who are stateless, most of whom fled following a wave of violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine state in 2017. “More than three years have elapsed. Regrettably, not a single Rohingya could be repatriated. The problem was created by Myanmar, and its solution must […]
Sep 26, 2020