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The UfM accelerates access to higher education for displaced populations

Displaced young people will receive scholarships to enter higher education (photo: UfM)
Displaced young people will receive scholarships to enter higher education (photo: UfM)
MEDITERRANEAN. Meeting on Thursday 21 October 2021 in Barcelona, senior officials from the foreign ministries of the 42 member states of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) approved the establishment of a Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM) to promote access to higher education for displaced populations in the Euro-Mediterranean region.

This region-wide project provides an emergency solution that will enable 300 refugees and students from host communities to join higher education institutions in the coming years. It is based on a two-year emergency scholarship programme offered in ten countries (Egypt, France, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and Poland) and supported by the Global Higher Education Platform, which has been awarding scholarships since 2013.

The funding will be targeted primarily at Syrian refugees and will focus on empowering young women and on studies that meet the needs of the new digital age. The RRM will also provide non-academic support with mentoring, life skills training and career development modules.

Only 1% of study-age refugees access higher education

"For young men and women in war-torn countries, educational opportunities offer a glimmer of hope for the future; a glimmer of hope in the lives of families and entire communities. Higher education in crisis situations is often sidelined. Yet it is a refuge for 18-28 year olds. It provides protection, contributes to their autonomy and is a catalyst for recovery. Doing more, better and faster is not an option but a necessity that benefits everyone: humanity, society and the academic community," comments Helena Barroco, project manager.

According to the UfM, only 1% of refugees of school age have access to higher education, whereas the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) aims to increase this proportion to 15% by 2030.

"Universities and research centres should not be underestimated in the role they play in driving our growth. They act as nerve centres, home to the bold and brilliant nuggets of innovation that our society so desperately needs," emphasises Nasser Kamel.  "We must seek to best support these resources, enabling our young people to pursue their ambitions in higher education and beyond," continues the Secretary General of the UfM.

Eric Apim

Thursday, October 21st 2021

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