UNIV’R Undertaking: 21 younger refugees arrived in France to review for a grasp’s diploma

21 refugee students in 8 first asylum countries and from 7 sub-Saharan African countries started their academic year in France. They were received in 12 higher education establishments under the UNIV’R project, led by the United Nations Agency for Refugees (HCR) and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), with the support of the Network of Migrants in Higher Education ( MEnS ).

This project, which is part the AUF-UNHCR agreement signed in 2021, aims to develop a university runner, in order 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 life grants) are provided to selected students, originating from 7 different countries and residing in 8 countries of asylum:

native country

(number of students)

country of first asylum

(number of students)

Burundi (2)

Guinea (1)

Mauritania (1)

Central African Republic (10)

Democratic Republic of Congo (3)

Rwanda (2)

Chad (2)

Cameroon (6)

Morocco (2)

Nigeria (2)

Uganda (1)

Senegal (2)

Tanzania (2)

Chad (3)

Togo (3)

They continue their studies at 12 universities and higher education establishments:

Only 6% of refugees have access to higher education

Currently, only 6% of refugees aged 18 to 34 worldwide have access to higher education and less than 2% in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is home to the largest number of refugees or displaced persons. UNHCR has set a target of reaching 15% of registered voters by 2030, a target that remains far from the world average of 40%.

O university halls allow refugees already established in the first host country to stay legally in a third country that offers them university accommodation. With 85% of refugees worldwide living in low- and middle-income countries, these durable solutions are a manifestation of solidarity with countries of first asylum.

A project with multiple stakeholders (2022-2025)

Many actors collaborated to allow the UNIV’R project to see the light of day. Higher education institutions, 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 students a scholarship and life.

The Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs paid for the trip (organized by its operator Campus France), the cost of visas and 3 months of social security coverage on arrival. 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), as well as civil society and students, support administrative and social support institutions for students.

For more informations

FAU : Annick Suzor-Weiner, Professor Emerita at the University of Paris-Saclay, responsible for the AUF AIMES-International program (annick.suzor-weiner@auf.org )

UNHCR-France : Caroline Laly-Chevalier (laly@unhcr.org), Lara Torri (torry@unhcr.org)

MENS network : Matthew Schneider, President of MEnS and Vice-President of the University of Strasbourg (contact@reseau-mens.org)

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