Over its 28-year history, the DAFI programme has supported more than 18,000 young refugee women and men to pursue their undergraduate degrees. DAFI remains the longest running and largest standalone tertiary scholarship programme for refugees and returnees, currently serving students in 54 countries. The idea underpinning the DAFI programme is simple but powerful: that talented, passionate students should be supported to thrive, pursue their dreams and become leaders in their fields of study and their communities. DAFI scholars have done just that and they continue to succeed beyond expectation. In 2019, a record number of 8,347 students were enrolled on DAFI scholarships. 1,063 of them earned their degrees in 2019, enriching and adding value to the academic communities and countries that host them and inspiring the thousands of young people that follow in their footsteps.
DAFI has grown rapidly since its inception and particularly over the last five years. Throughout this time, the programme has redoubled its commitment to developing the leadership potential of DAFI students. This means listening to the desires and aspirations of all students and ensuring that the programme evolves and adapts to the changing contexts and challenges that students face. Recognizing the persistent need for sustainable livelihoods for DAFI graduates, the programme issued new guidance promoting internships, skills development and career readiness. In 2019, 3,262 students (39%) of the DAFI student body volunteered in their communities. 652 students participated in an internship after, or as part of their degree programme. DAFI country programmes have made greater efforts in establishing linkages between refugee students and potential employers and in 2019, DAFI scholars were hired by international organisations, started their own businesses, awarded post-graduate degree scholarships, invested countless hours volunteering in their communities and earned positions working in their fields. DAFI students continue to play an important role in meeting the challenge to keep more refugee youth enrolled through secondary school, to ensure that the transition to higher education and on to employment is a possibility for all.
In 2019, DAFI students represented 45 nationalities. 40% of all DAFI students were women. DAFI programmes in sub-Saharan Africa accounted for 46% of the total DAFI student body, while those in the Middle East and North Africa made up 28%. Ethiopia had the largest DAFI programme (12% of the programme globally) and Syrian students made up the largest country of origin cohort (29% of the students globally).