Refugee students often face struggles that most students can’t even imagine. From losing their homes to having few legal rights in their new country, the journey to success for refugees far surpasses the everyday money worries and deadline stresses of most students.
Higher education has the potential to help refugees reach the same level of expertise as their luckier, non-displaced peers, except they have to climb over a mountain that is only a molehill to the majority of students.
The opportunity is there to gain employable skills, industry-relevant knowledge and cultural awareness, but with complicated application processes and a lack of support compared to students who have grown up in their country’s education system, a refugee applicant is more likely to struggle to gain a place at university despite their more desperate needs.
This is why more universities and governments are providing extra support and specialised schemes to help ease the barriers that often block refugees from earning a degree.
There are 40 million displaced people under 26 and only 1% are in higher education. 60 UK #universities already offer scholarships for displaced people and refugees, but there are many more ways in which institutions can help. Read @UUKIntl's report here: https://t.co/3flTk7UO2I
— Peter B Mason (@PeterBMason) March 20, 2018
Everything from having no permanent address to not having a competent grasp of their new country’s language can hold refugees back in applying and succeeding in higher education. But, through directed schemes, refugees can be given a step-up towards the glass ceiling that looms over their heads beyond graduation.
Germany is striving to alleviate the struggles refugees face by welcoming 10,000 refugees into higher education a year, according to University World News.
President Margret Wintermantel, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) said:
“Education is a key element in integrating refugees. With our package of measures, which serve as a basis for access to higher education, we have achieved a lot.”
A similar scheme is being run by Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), which is currently offering refugees in Rwanda’s Kiziba refugee camp a US-accredited bachelor’s degree to help them become contributing members of the global economy, according to Inside Higher Ed.
While education can help to elevate refugees’ potential, the barriers they face are not based solely on knowledge. For these schemes to be a success, they must also help them navigate the social obstacles that education cannot overcome, reported Inside Higher Ed.
“But there still remains much to be done,” acknowledges Wintermantel. “In future, we’ll be focusing on issues such as optimal supervision and support during study courses, ensuring study success or issues regarding additional academic qualifications to prepare for an optimal transition to the labour market.”
Cultural differences in grade representation can make it hard for #refugees to continue higher education in the US. An excellent student may have a "low" GPA compared to US grade inflation (it's real, guys, let's be real!) This can bar them from applying to advanced degrees. 1/2
— rebecca hill (@roodawakenning) March 20, 2018
SNHU is also finding refugee students internships, helping them to develop industry-relevant skills applicable to the 21st century, and building links with potential employers for them.
The university understands that a prestigious education alone is not enough to level the playing field between refugees and more privileged students, and believes these initiatives will be effective in paving the way out of hardship for them.