One per cent of refugees 'reach tertiary education'

Figures highlight challenges faced by European universities seeking to educate refugees

May 9, 2017
Child playing in refugee camp
Source: Alamy

Only 1 per cent of young refugees will reach tertiary education, says a new report into the educational chances of asylum seekers in Europe.

Highlighting statistics published by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees last year, a study by the European Students’ Union says just 1 per cent of young people with a refugee background will access post-secondary education.

The study, titled ‘Refugees Welcome? Recognition of qualifications held by refugees and their access to higher education in Europe', profiles how Romania, Belgium, Norway and Germany are providing higher education to displaced people. It also explains how around half of the refugees arriving in Europe (some 426,000 arrived in the final three months of 2015) are under the age of 18 and will stay, on average, for about 20 years.

Refugees should be provided with access to education if they are to contribute to their host country economically and societally, the report argues, but many struggle to reach university due to a lack of advice and individual guidance, limited recognition of their pre-existing credits and qualifications, particularly for those without documents and inadequate language support.

Liva Vikmane, the ESU’s vice-president, said: “This report challenges the common belief that the refugees are the problem and points in the direction of the European structures and systems that clearly need to be more inclusive."

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