21 younger refugees arrived in France to check for a grasp’s diploma

Charles, Aymard Amour and Bachirou, refugees in Cameroon, will continue their studies in France as part of the UNIV’R university corridor project. © UNHCR/Helen Ngoh Ada

This project aims to develop a harmonized and sustainable university corridor to welcome refugees residing in a first country of asylum at master’s level. Personalized access to the university system, administrative, legal and psychosocial support and financial support (scholarships and living) are provided to selected students from the Central African Republic, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea and Mauritania, and refugees in Cameroon, Chad, Togo, Niger, Senegal, Morocco, Tanzania and Uganda.

They continue their studies at 12 higher education establishments: the universities of Bordeaux, Bordeaux Montaigne, Clermont Auvergne, Jean Monnet Saint-Etienne, Littoral Côte d’Opale, Nanterre, Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris 8 Vincennes-St Denis, Paris 13 Sorbonne Paris Nord, Picardie Jules Verne, Rennes 1 and ENIB in Brest. In total, more than 30 establishments have already expressed interest in the UNIV’R project, which will gradually benefit 50 refugees over two years.

21 refugee students in 8 first asylum countries and from 7 sub-Saharan African countries started their academic year in France. They were hosted in 12 higher education institutions as part of the UNIV’R project, led by UNHCR, the United Nations Agency for Refugees and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie, with the support of the Migrants Network. . © UNHCR/Josselin Bremaud

Only 6% of refugees have access to higher education

Currently, only 6% of refugees worldwide have access to higher education. UNHCR has set a target of reaching 15% of registered voters by 2030 (report Refugee Education 2030: A Strategy for Refugee Inclusion, 2019).

Complementary admission pathways, such as university corridors, provide safe and regulated pathways for refugees in addition to resettlement. They allow refugees already established in a first host country to legally stay in a third country. While 85% of refugees worldwide live in low- and middle-income countries, these durable solutions facilitate access to protection and are a manifestation of solidarity with first-reception countries.

A multi-stakeholder project

Many actors collaborated to allow the UNIV’R project to see the light of day, including the refugees themselves. Higher education establishments, in charge of selecting and hosting the winners, also mobilized funds, from their budget or thanks to the support of the private sector and foundations, to grant a scholarship and life grant to students.

The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs – and its operator Campus France -, the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the General Secretariat for European Affairs actively participated in the development of the project.

Associations such as the Forum Réfugiés or the Fédération de l’Entraide Protestante (FEP) with the Protestant Social Action Center (CASP)as well as civil society, establishments supporting administrative and social support for refugee students.

project coordination

UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency, is an international organization whose mission is to protect forcibly displaced people. For more than 70 years, UNHCR has been helping uprooted people on their journey of exile: it is present in 130 countries to meet vital needs, providing shelter, water, medical assistance, etc.

The University Agency of the Francophonie (AUF)created 60 years ago, it is today the world’s leading university network with more than 1,000 members: universities, colleges and research centers in nearly 120 countries.

The MENS Network It is made up of more than 50 French ESR establishments, civil society partners and public institutions. All work to better welcome and support students and researchers in exile. It relies, in particular, on transitional training courses that allow for the resumption of studies and integration into society.

For more training

UNHCR in France

Céline Schmitt, Spokesperson and Head of External Relations, [email protected]

Caroline Laly-Chevalier, Legal Adviser, [email protected]


Annick Suzor-Weiner, professor emeritus at the University of Paris-Saclay, project manager at the AUF and vice-president of the MEnS, [email protected]

Béatrice Cadilhac, Deputy Director of Communication, AUF, [email protected]


Mathieu Schneider, Vice-President Culture, Science-Society and Solidarity Actions at the University of Strasbourg and President of the MEnS network, [email protected].org

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