Nov 27, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

More than 5.5 million refugees have fled Syria since the civil war began in 2011, according to World Vision. This includes just under 2.5 million children, who face significant barriers to education. The good news? There is help for the approximate 100,000 college-ready Syrians who want to pursue college degrees. Here’s a closer look at the situation, along with a roundup of countries offering scholarship programs for refugees.

The Education Imperative

While young Syrian refugees have been through tremendous ordeals, their desire for higher education has not wavered, according to a recent report by Al-Fanar Media.

Many governments and organizations in Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, other EU countries, Canada and Japan have jumped in to help, including the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI); the Al Ghurair STEM Scholars Program; the Edu-Syria Scholarship Program; the Global Platform for Syrian Students; Higher Education for Syrians; HOPES; Scholarships for Syrians; New Perspectives through Academic Education and Training for Young Syrians and Jordanians; the Jusoor Scholarship Program; the IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis; Integra; Welcome -- Students Helping Refugees; the Student Refugee Program; the Japanese Initiative for the Future of Syrian Refugees; and the Chevening Scholarships.

But More Help is Needed

Unfortunately, obstacles still remain -- starting with the fact that many students lack the English skills required to achieve the test scores necessary for scholarship support. Not to mention that scholarships are increasingly limited as donor interest shifts from scholarships to vocational programs.

Yannick Du Pont, director of Spark, which promotes higher education in post-conflict societies, said, “We saw a huge surge [in scholarships] after the migrant waves into Europe. I don’t see the same kind of drive now.”

Experts suggest the solution may lie in taking a more holistic approach. Unimed researcher Marco di Donato told Al-Fanar, “If you want to be more effective as a scholarship provider, you need to discuss with each university how not only refugees will benefit, but how the local community will benefit as well. It’s not about having a national strategy, but a local strategy.”

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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