Access to education

General Description

The RESCUE Partners gathered 20 experiences of work with Syrian refugees and IDPs during the period March-June 2017. Finally, after a selection phase, 17 of these experiences were analysed, 6 from European countries and 11 from partner countries.

The selection phase took into account the following aspects in order to collect and study the information properly:

  • Projects, programs or activities running currently (at least during 2016). Activities or actions planned to be implemented in the future were excluded.
  • Projects, programmes or activities with an impact or potential impact into the refugee crisis and the educational field.
  • Projects, programmes or activities that give proper information in order to cover the majority of the questions proposed.

According with the selection criteria the initiatives were divided in 7 topical categories.

The Categories are the following:

  • Social integration measures: addressed to improve the integration of refugee students in their new social and cultural environment. These initiatives cover a wide range of activities, for instance, language courses, raising awareness campaigns, activities;
  • Labour market integration measures: actions, activities, and so on, addressed to improve refugee employability. The employability is defined as the capability of getting and keeping satisfactory work. In this field we find vocational training;
  • Access to education. The access to education category involves measures addressed to facilitate, encourage and enhance the enrolment of refugee students into the educational system. This category integrates such measures as recruitment activities, removal or flexibility of some bureaucratic requirements, recognition of prior learning, accommodation;
  • Financial support. The financial support includes free tuition fees, tuition discounts for Syrian students, scholarships, etc.
  • Integration into the educational institution. In this category there are initiatives that fully or partially include activities addressed to facilitating the integration of Syrian students for instance buddy programs, mentoring, etc.
  • Social and legal assistance. This is a complex category that includes psychosocial assistance and legal assistance;
  • Networks/alliances. This category includes cooperation between different actors in the same initiative: NGOs (local, national, international), universities, European Union, United Nation agencies.

    Important to point out that sometimes a single initiative can be categorized in more than one item.

TU Berlin (Germany)

Country: Germany
Istitutions: TU Berlin
Name of the Experience: In(2)TU Berlin

Several facilities of TU Berlin are working together to enhance the academic and social situation of Syrian refugees at campus.

Main initiatives are:

1. Studienkolleg: Teaching German language exclusively for Syrian refugees to make them ready to attend lectures. Language stage C1 is needed for matriculation at TU Berlin.

2. In(2) TU Berlin: Refugees can attend classes without proper matriculation as guest students. When they pass the exam the received credit points are valid after matriculation.

3. Student counseling: General counseling of students who want to study at TUBerlin has additionally counseling Syrian students. This includes selection of suitable study programs, legal and administrative organization and career counseling. also the link between all other initiatives for refugees at TU Berlin. It as well connects to:

4. Psychological counseling: Several types of phobias are present among students, most often related to examination. Traumatized refugee students are advised in this unit and get recommendations for further treatment.

5. In(2) Tu Berlin Kultur Café: cultural exchange in a small café with thematic evenings. The students get into personal contact via music and other cultural activities.

The connection takes place between Syrian, other international and German students as well.

The management and connection of these offers makes the initiative successful and a key feature of universities effort to lower the obstacles of refugees to enter the higher education system.

More information at:


The initiative is running until October 2015. Until now, 2,600 refugees attended a personal information session. 1,400 obtained special consultation sessions. In relation to 10,000 information and 4,000 personal counseling sessions performed for all students this outcome seems to have a high impact and acceptance among the refugee students. Counselling is mainly done by one member of the student counselling office, a psychologist and several teachers for German language at Studienkolleg. A strong benefit of the initiatives in German language which is a substantial obstacle to enter university as the conditions are C1 level which is very ambitious to get in a short period of time. Legal aspects when entering a foreign administrative system is almost impossible to handle without help. This includes the whole options of German study programs but additionally of the German labour market

 Relevance of the development of initiative in its specific context

Especially in Berlin the number of Syrian refugees is very high and the number of refugees who want to start or continue their academic education as well. Therefore, support is given by the government, DAAD funding especially for language courses and the local municipality.


First counselling sessions for In(2)TU Berlin program do not show a trend over time concerning the number of participants. For personal consultation the numbers are decreasing. This may be a result of the situation of Syrian refugees in Turkey where refugees with an academic background are not allowed to go to Europe, especially Germany. Overall attendance numbers proof the need for the initiative. A general observation is that the number of refugees who take advantage of psychological help increases. The initiative is deeply implemented in the administrative procedures of students counselling and therefore is designed to be long-lasting and sustainable.


Beside specialties of national language, legal and administration issues the main advantage is the connection between these facilities and the capability to create strong network inside and outside university in a holistic way. This is exportable to any other situation concerning counseling of refugee students

Innovative character

Connection of facilities and interdisciplinary approaches to enhance the situation of refugees at university is not a new strategy but usually processes lack strong connections and synergy which increase high efficiency in a small amount of time. Taking the long-lasting structures like student counseling to face new problems makes processes more stable.

University of Barcelona (Spain)

Country: Spain
Institutions: University of Barcelona
Name of the initiative: Transition to graduate studies and training in human rights


The Transition to graduate studies and training in human rights is one of the action lines of the University of Barcelona Refugee Support Program. The Transition course is a pilot project and it started the first edition in October 2016. During the course 2017-2018 will start the second edition.

The transition course provides with a full scholarship (accommodation, free tuition, psychological and legal assistance, social integration measure, etc). During the first edition a total amount of 15 students, coming mainly from Syria, have joint the scholarship.

The transitional course is a preparatory course divided in three modules: Spanish and Catalanlearning language; preparation to the selectivity and human rights module. The course is cofunded by the University of Barcelona and the Barcelona City Council. During the first edition the implementation of different measures (legal assistance, medical assistance, language couples, etc) have allowed to create an internal network (among the different Faculties and departments of the University of Barcelona) and an external network (with the city council and other NGOs that are working into topics related to refugee population, integration, etc)


The transitional course has reach 15 students: 13 Syrian students, 1 Afghan student and 1 Palestinian student. 14 of them will enrol during the academic year 2017-2018 in different university studies and educational cycles.

At the internal level the institutional commitment has been a vital factor for the success ofthe initiative. We have to point out that the City Council commitment with the initiative is also an important point.

Relevance of the development of initiative in its specific context

The initiative is pioneering in Spain and it has allowed the University to develop its social responsibility chapter. The initiative has also interested different universities that want to replicate the same model.


Economically, the initiative counts with a budget and it is cofunded by the Barcelona City Council and the University of Barcelona. In terms of viability, there is a political commitment to continue with the initiative.


The initiative can be transferable to different actors.


It hasn’t been tested. There will be a first evaluation of the initiative in October – November 2017.

Innovative character

The innovative character is double:

  • The introduction of a global and integral approach. This global and integral approach (orientation, physical and mental health, legal assistance, language learning, human rights, etc) is possible thanks to the links with different Faculties and departments and their collaboration.
  • The human rights approach. The course is addressed to consider students as current and future peacebuilders. The course will give the students the abilities and knowledge needed to handle conflicts.

Ministry of Interior. Government of Italy (Italy)

Country: Italy
Institutions: Government of Italy
Name of the Experience: 100 scholarships for students covered by international protection


According to the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI), in cooperation with ANDISU (National Association of Organizations for Right to Study), the Italian Ministry of Interior offers 100 scholarships for A.Y. 2017/18 to students with international protection (refugee status or beneficiaries of subsidiary protection) holding an education title suitable for access to chosen Bachelors, Masters or PhD programmes.

The scholarships are awarded by the university, possibly in cooperation with the Regional Authorities for the Right to Study, and entitle students to exemption from taxes and university tuition, accommodation services (room and board), access to university facilities (centres, libraries). Other additional services may be offered by third parties.

The calls for application (2016-2017 and 2017-2018) address students with refugee or subsidiary protection status.


The real impact needs a longer time to be assessed; however, the envisaged impact is that young migrants will concretely contribute to the progress of civil society. The huge number of migrants will be a resource for the hosting country, rather than a burden.

Relevance of the development of initiative in its specific context

Considering the increase in immigration flows towards Italy and the humanitarian emergency in the Mediterranean region, it is important to implement new policies aimed at fostering the integration of migrants in Italian society; especially those addressing vulnerable groups such as young refugee students. This approach guarantees dignity to the person and is not based on mere charity.

Partnership and Financing: scholarships are granted by the Italian Ministry of Interior in collaboration with the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI) and the National Association of Organizations for Right to study (ANDISU).

The scholarships cover tuition and access to university facilities (centres, libraries). Accommodation services (room and board), if not provided by the university, are funded by the Italian Ministry of Interior. Other additional services may be offered by third parties.

Winners of the previous call (A.Y. 2016/2017) are entitled to obtain a new scholarship for the following academic year upon completing at least 20 ECTS as of 10/08/2017 or 15 ECTS by 16/07/2017.


There is evidence to suggest that this initiative is highly sustainable, as based on education and cultural integration. The scholarship beneficiaries get direct access to the Italian education system. They will obtain a degree allowing them to access further studies, in Italy, in the EU, and in the rest of the world, taking advantage of the Diploma Supplement. All these aspects drive better integration in the job market and in daily life.


This is a very easily transferable model, and can address students at all levels, including the PhD level.

Innovative character

This initiative is innovative for the specific beneficiary category. The Italian system already funds scholarships for foreign students, but only since 2016 that there is an additional call for students with refugee or subsidiary protection status. Indeed, the idea behind this initiative is that the political recognition of education can be used as an essential multiplier tool for educating and integrating young migrants, thus fostering the growth and progress of society. In this way, the refugee or the holder of subsidiary protection becomes a resource for the hosting countries.

The Conference of Italian University Rectors has informed all Italian universities of the ongoing initiative; all relevant administrative and academic staff have been involved in the pre-acceptance procedure as well as in the enrolment phases.

Sulaimani Polytechnic University (Iraq)

Country: Iraq
Institutions: Sulaimani Polytechnic University
Name of the Experience: No lost Syrian Generations: Supporting Syrian refugee students to learn and train at the Sulaimani Polytechnic University


Since the start of Syrian crisis, the city of Sulaimani in Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) has been welcoming Syrian refugees both in camp and host communities, reaching about 29,229 refugees in October 2016 according to a statistic from UNHCR. The same statistic shows that a high majority of these refugees age between 18-59. Among them, many university level students are on the verge of being a lost generation and are desperately waiting for opportunities to study at the local universities.

Understanding the concerns and the critical needs of the young Syrian students and their families to build secure and build their future through post-high school formal education and training, the Sulaimani Polytechnic University (SPU) has been actively and keenly looking for opportunities to support Syrian refugee students with their post-high school education goals and aspirations.

SPU has successfully secured fund from Education to Refugees in Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI) Scholarship Program in partnership with UNHCR, DAAD, British Council, and KRI’s Ministry of Higher Education to welcome eight Syrian students to complete their Diploma and Bachelor’s studies at SPU as the following:

  • Four students in Administration Department, Technical College of Administration
  • Two students in Production and Metals Department, Technical College of Engineering
  • One student in Pharmacology Department, Sulaimani Technical Institute
  • One student in Database systems Department, Computer Institute

Among the local universities, SPU offers the advantage of teaching and training in a wide range of specialties in college (Bachelor’s level), institute (Diploma level), and TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) for short and longer term studies and across different geographic locations in Sulaimani province, some very close to IDP and refugees camps.

As a polytechnic university, SPU’s teaching pedagogy, training approach, and motto emphasize “learn to apply”. SPU students graduate with latest knowledge and life skills that can help them build a successful career in academia and public and private sectors.

In line with its social responsibility goals and strong connection to its community’s needs (including those of the Syrian refugees in Kurdistan Region and Iraq), SPU is seeking financial support from RESCUE and Erasmus+ programs to extend its supports to the eager Syrian students awaiting to resume/start their post-high school studying at their host community.

More information at Sulaimani Polytechnic University


Due to the limited scholarship seats from DAFI and lack of other funds, currently only eight students are enrolled at the Sulaimani Polytechnic University in the fields explained above.

In addition to all the regular services offered by the university to all the registered students (including the Syrian students), the followings are some of the extra services secured/offered to the Syrian students:

  • Securing accommodation units within the University’s limited number of students housing (5 of the students are from outside the city). The accommodation annual fee of 100,000 IQD (about 80$) and pocket money for personal expenses are paid by UNHCR.
  • Offering special student registration services with dedicated staff to facilitate a smooth and easy registration and transition to SPU system.
  •  Removing logistical and bureaucratical barriers that may hinder or delay the students’ registration at a local university and settling processes by taking a few measures:
    • Accepting non-original transcript copies for registration purposes (after obtaining a written pledge from the students about the authenticity of the content) until UNHCR arranges and send the accepted students’ original transcripts to SPU (after certifying them at the Ministry of Education of Kurdistan Region).
    • Waiving accommodation guarantee requirements and accepting UNHCR pro42 Refugees Education Support in Mena CoUntriEs vided ID as guarantee.
    • We apply the same local fee rates (which varies from a program to another) as the local students who enter SPU in the so called parallel education system, as per KRI’s Ministry of Higher Education regulations.
    • The students’ very positive experience testifies to SPU’s interest and abilities to offer best practices in teaching and training Syrian refugee students, as a tested by an end year evaluation session carried out by Darya Organization for Developing Women and Community in partnership with UNHCR

SPU has received DAFI scholarship funding in partnership between UNHCR, DAAD, British Council, and KR’s Ministry of Higher Education in support of the initiation.

The financial aid is used to cover the tuition fee of the programs. SPU’s support and aids come in non-cash contributions to the program.

As indicated above, the program terms and agreements are done in collaboration with the funding bodies, UNHCR and KRI’s Ministry of Higher Education. The tuition and student housing fees are paid by DAFI and UNHCR.

Specific program design and implementation (including student services and educational activities) are done by SPU.

Define the institutional collaboration agent: Municipalities, Governorates, Education ministries, NGOs, co-funded projects, DAFI and UNHCR are co-funding the project.


This and similar projects have been part of SPU’s current and future strategies for the extending its supports, services, and outreach to the local community (including the refugees and IDPs). The initiation also complies with our social responsibility, diversity, and internationalization goals and commitments. We believe that the refugees and IDPs are an integral part of the local community and we will continue to serve and expand our timely support to them to achieve their long-term career and life goals. We continue to work on helping and involving the refugees, IDPs, and other disadvantaged learners in our community.

There is a variation in individual program’s tuition fees, but in general the fees range between 1,200 to 2,400$. This is the same fee amount applied to local students admitted to the highly competitive and limited seats of parallel system. The current funding will cover all the eight students’ tuition fees for the duration of the entire duration of their studying. As we hope and plan to expand our support, we will continue to actively look for and so licit for additional funding from the local and international aiding organizations and local government. We will also explore options to self-fund some of our initiations based on our university’s budget and income.


The SPU initiative has great potentials to be transferred and replicated by other educational institutions in the region and other countries. We will be happy to share our experience and expand our program’s practice and scope by collaborating with other members from the Association of Arab Universities and outside.

The SPU initiative is inclusive and responsive to different groups’ needs. So also beneficial to other groups of disadvantaged learners, including IDPs (Internally Displaced People).


This was the first initiative from SPU, but we are in contact with related local and international organizations to expand and enhance our initiation based on feedback and needs. That is how we got involved with Darya Organization for Developing Women and Community in their end year evaluation to the initiation.

Innovative character

Education approach at SPU is innovative and is informed by its community’s needs, stateof- art applied knowledge, and the experience of the existing approaches. In laying its strategy, SPU consult ad involve its local community as well as academic and industry partners inside and outside the region (including growing international partners). In admitting the Syrian students to our programs, we responded to the demands for specialties that with good career prospect in the region.

University of Duhok (Iraq)

Country: Iraq
Institutions: University of Duhok
Name of Experience:

Description of the initiative
The University of Duhok accepted around (1200) undergraduate students at their different Colleges and departments as guest students (IDPs and Refugees) and eventually sends the credentials to their home universities.

The ongoing services are for English language given by the British Council.

The University of Duhok, College of Nursing has conducted a campaign on “Breast Cancer Awareness” for the IDPs and Refugees women at the camps.

The University of Duhok, College of Dentistry has conducted a campaign on children teeth examination.

The University of Duhok, Center for Peace and Conflict Resolution Studies with the help of the New York University conducted hundreds of lectures and workshops on peace building and consolation among the youth of the (IDPs and Refugees) at the camps.

An International Conference on Peace Building has been hosted at the UoD and sponsored by the US Consulate General in Erbil and the Kurdistan Regional Governorate.

The UoD gave premises to the University of Mosul to use for their students to have classes during a period of one year after ISIS breakthrough. Our Volunteer students frequently go to the camps to help (IDPs and Refugees) through the UoD, NGOs and Governmental bodies.

More information at University of Duhok


The number of IDPs and refugee enrolled students in Duhok city is around 1200 students, the rest of them could not attend the university. The main reason for that is the limited capacity of the public universities in Duhok, the missing documents and the hard living conditions of students and teachers and also most of them have to work to maintain life for their families.

Therefore, only around 1200 students and only 80 teachers were able to find teaching opportunities to participate in the different departments and colleges of the University of Duhok.

The impact of the initiative was good because those students have the chance to continue their study and did not lose any year of study. In the case of teachers, some of them were able to teach their students and help their families financially. Many of the students get benefitsfrom the summer vocational trainings, workshops and computer and English courses. These activities made them capable to find jobs and increase their income.