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Demand for refugee HE remains high

The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) assisted almost 7,000 individuals in 2018, with more than half originally from three countries: Syria, Afghanistan and South Sudan. However, limited resources mean applicants are still missing out.

Around 1,130 new students were awarded scholarships and accepted into universities in 2018 although more than 10K applied. Photo: DAFI

Resources limitations meant that 11% of applicants were successful – in the previous year the acceptance rate was 20%

In 2018, 6,866 DAFI scholars were supported across 768 institutions in 51 countries, the DAFI Annual Report revealed. Of the DAFI scholars in 2018, 41% were women, and the cohort represented 39 nationalities.

The largest DAFI hosting countries were Turkey (12%), Ethiopia (12%), Jordan (11%), Uganda (7%) and Kenya (6%).

“This represents the immense need to step up international support for refugee HE”

While Turkey has consistently hosted over 800 scholars over the past three years, 2018 marked the first time that Ethiopia hosted a similar number, with 830 students.

In September last year, 1,134 new students were awarded scholarships and accepted into universities while 5,732 students continued their studies from the previous year – however that is a fraction of the 10,195 refugees who applied for the scholarships.

Resources limitations meant that 11% of applicants were successful, according to the report.

In the previous year, the acceptance rate was 20% when 2,582 new scholarship places were created.

“Demand for higher education for refugees remains high,” the report explained. “This represents the immense need to step up international support for refugee higher education.

“Additional resources and partnerships are needed to ensure that DAFI scholarships continue to be a higher education option for more young refugees.”

The German government contributed 90% of the total USD $20.1m program budget in 2018, while the remaining budget came from The Saïd, Asfari, and Hands Up for Syria Foundations and other private donors.

The DAFI program aims to prioritise enrolment in public universities, which represent 73% of DAFI student enrolments in 2018.

The program is also working towards its goal of gender parity. With young women representing 41% of DAFI scholars in 2018, 19 countries improved their ratio of female enrolment compared to 2017.

“Challenges include lower prioritisation of education for girls and women at all levels, competing demands of household work and childcare, and risk of sexual and gender-based violence travelling to and while at school,” according to paper.

Since its launch in 1992 by UNHCR and the German government the DAFI refugee scholarship has supported more than 15,500 young refugees. Last year, 787 people graduated thanks to the scholarship program.

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