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Higher education for refugees - Migration, displacement and education: Building bridges, not walls

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By Martha K. Ferede


In 2016, less than 1% of refugee youth had access to higher education. A myriad of challenges account for this low rate,including learning gaps due to interrupted schooling, issues with academic credentials, financial constraints and limited fluency in the language of instruction.

This paper addresses refugees’ access to higher education in three parts; the first part grounds the issue by demonstrating the impetus for higher education for refugees,outlining the international conventions that call for refugees’ participation in higher education and providing enrolment data. The second part outlines the various barriers to access. In the third part, the paper identifies initiatives designed to increase higher education access for refugees.In this section, a detailed case study on the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC) Student Refugee Program (SRP) describes a unique initiative that offers refugee youth access higher education and to the durable solution of resettlement. The paper closes with recommendations for policy and research.