• Posted 14-Jun-2022

University of Nicosia: Refugee scholars share their university experience

70+ deserving refugees have been awarded with full or partial scholarships through the UNIC – UNHCR Refugee Scholarship Programme since 2017

Nicosia, 08 June 2022 – Young refugees who received scholarships by the University of Nicosia (UNIC) under the UNIC – UNHCR Refugee Scholarship Programme opened up about the opportunities these have provided them with, as well as some of the challenges they have faced during their studies. The meeting took place on 7 June at the University’s premises, with a delegation from both UNIC and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in attendance, to also renew the dedicated scholarship programme the University has been running for the past 5 years under an MOU concluded with UNHCR.

The refugee scholars expressed their heartfelt appreciation for the opportunity to study at the University of Nicosia, underscoring that they would not have otherwise had the opportunity to pursue higher education. They spoke of the benefits that have accrued by pursuing tertiary education and the empowerment this has brought them in their lives. In discussing the challenges, the refugees touched upon the added difficulties of being a refugee student, whether this relates to overcoming language barriers, or facing prejudice, along with the lack of family or a social network to support their studies and subsistence.

UNHCR Representative in Cyprus, Ms. Katja Saha, commended UNIC’s Refugee Scholarship Programme, which has considerably expanded over the years, noting that by providing such opportunities universities remain true to their values and mission. “Access to higher education can transform the lives of refugees by opening new horizons and creating great opportunities paving the way to self-sufficiency and to a sustainable future. I appeal to other higher education institutions in Cyprus to offer similar openings. Though there are challenges, UNHCR remains ready to find solutions in an ongoing dialogue with the University, the refugee scholars and other relevant stakeholders who may be able to contribute resources and expertise in that regard”.

The Senior Vice Rector of the University of Nicosia, Professor Constantinos N. Phellas, highlighted the multiple dimensions of the ongoing European migrant crisis. “It is, first and foremost, a humanitarian crisis for the refugees and migrants involved, but it has also revealed areas for improvement in European infrastructure and services. UNIC proudly collaborates with the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, to award a series of scholarships to deserving refugees, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue higher education. In service of this most sacred of duties, the UNIC Refugee Scholarship Programme has offered over 70 full or partial scholarships since 2017”.

Iskandar, a Syrian refugee scholar, recipient of a scholarship for UNIC’s Master in Blockchain and Digital Currency, shared his educational journey at UNIC via video. Another social media video covering the meeting will be published shortly.

With only 5% of refugees having access to higher education, compared to 39% of the global average for higher education enrollment among non-refugees, UNHCR calls for an expanded participation of refugee students in higher education globally, greater enjoyment of rights for all, and improved development outcomes in line with Sustainable Development Goal 4, the Global Compact on Refugees and the Global Refugee Forum. UNHCR and partners are committed to achieving enrolment of 15% of young refugee women and men in higher education by the year 2030 – the 15by30 target.

Source: University of Nicosia (https://bit.ly/3xOC8Xp)