We’re witnessing the largest migrant crisis in human history. 65 million people have been displaced as a result of conflict.

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 1.20.58 PMWhile the demands of survival have taken priority, deep beneath the surface is a crisis for higher education. Tens of thousands of university students are fleeing their homelands with their educations interrupted, educations needed for those nations to rebuild if and when the conflicts end.

Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 12.30.38 PMThe United Nations estimates that there are at least 200,000 Syrians who have had their post-secondary education cut short since the war began in 2011, roughly the student population of 13 large universities. Barely 1% of college-age refugees are in university courses in their host countries, compared to the global average of 34 percent, the Institute of International Education estimates.

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Today, only 1.4 percent of worldwide humanitarian aid goes to education of any kind, according to UNESCO.
Many university-age refugees want to study in the United States, but only a handful succeed as student visas account for only 6% of all visas issued by the U.S.

While UNHCR and its partners have long worked to integrate refugees into local education systems, it has not always been feasible due to host country restrictions. Even if a country is willing to integrate refugees, a lack of resources can limit its ability to absorb students into existing systems. There also is a dearth of qualified teachers in refugee contexts, which limits the community’s ability to graduate through the educational continuum. There are some international aid organizations working to address this problem, but very few educational institutions. Several universities in the host countries, some of them in the U.S., have offered scholarships, but these universities are few and far between. Again, this is not a scalable solution, not accounting for the complexity of trying to obtain a visa for these students.