Supporting refugees’ and IDP’s access to higher education


It is estimated that less than 3% of refugees have access to tertiary education, compared to 37% of their peers elsewhere. Tertiary education, however, gives young refugees the opportunity to gain knowledge and skills that will allow them to contribute to society and that are essential for post-conflict recovery and rebuilding.

The current session explored how to facilitate access of refugees and IDPs to higher education in African countries. Besides identifying challenges to be tackled, it presented innovative models implemented at education institutions in Africa and provide recommendations how to address the situation.

Policy recommendations produced by the workshop:


You can find the recommendations in detail here:

Recommendations of Workshop B [PDF 182.44 KB]

Speakers at the workshop:

© Almarat Mohamed Omar

Almarat Mohamed Omar is a 24-year-old student of Business Management. Originally from Sudan, Almarat has been residing with his mother and siblings in Kakuma refugee settlement in Kenya since 2006. He studies Business Management on an InZone scholarship and expects to finish his studies in December 2019. Additionally, he holds a diploma on Global Poverty from the University of Geneva. Almarat plans to take on the dire economic conditions prevalent in his community. Already, he has set up an adult learning centre in Kakuma. The centre, which is a space of learning for all members of the refugee community, provides skills training such as basic business management competence.

Almarat is determined to empower members of his community to make use of their potential even further. By mobilizing networks and online fundraising, he hopes to see his vision of tailoring classes for refugees come alive soon.

© Barbara Moser-Mercer

Barbara Moser-Mercer is professor and director at InZone, an academic center at the University of Geneva dedicated to advancing innovation in higher education in emergencies. Following her initial training as a conference interpreter she pursued her studies in psycholinguistics and cognitive psychology. Her research has focused on the development of expertise in complex cognitive skills of bilinguals, both from a cognitive psychology and a cognitive neuro-science perspective. These findings have been instrumental in informing the design and the development of student-centered multilingual digital learning environments in fragile contexts, which are leveraged across several refugee camps in Africa and the Middle East, where InZone has built Higher Education Spaces that promote research and critical scholarship to support the development of peaceful and economically viable local communities.

InZone presentation – University of Geneva, Switzerland [PDF 2.36 MB]

© Susan Alupo

Susan Alupo is an advocate of the High court and courts subordinate there under. She is a registered member of Uganda Law Society and East African Law Society. She is currently working at the Refugee Law Project as the Program Manager under the Access to Justice Program a position she has held since 2014. She previously worked as a legal officer in the same program and her duties involved the provision of legal aid to forced migrants, advocating for reform in law, policy and practice, strengthening state and non-state actors to deliver Justice, empowering forced migrants to realize their rights. She comes with vast experience in Refugee Law and forced migration.

Prior to joining Refugee Law Project, she worked with the Uganda Human Rights Commission as a Human Rights Officer in the legal department where she was involved in representing victims of human rights violations in the tribunal. Her passion and interest is in the promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable persons. Susan attained her Bachelor’s degree in Law from Makerere University (Uganda) and a post graduate diploma in legal practice from Law Development Centre. She completed her master’s degree in Public International Law from University of Oslo in Norway.

© Dr. Yohannes Woldetensae

Dr. Yohannes Woldetensae is a citizen of Ethiopia and a Senior Education Expert in the Department of Human Resources, Science & Technology Department of the African Union Commission. He is in charge of coordinating the AU higher education initiatives: Nyerere Scholarship Scheme, Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Programme, Harmonisation of Higher Education Programmes, African Quality Rating Mechanism, African Continental Qualification Framework and the Pan-African Quality Assurance and Accreditation Framework. He also supports the implementation of Continental Education Strategy for Africa in the various clusters.

Caroline Schmidt holds a Master of Arts degree in political science and economy from the University of Chemnitz. As an operations officer at the Secretariat of the Global Partnership for Education in Washington, D.C., she focussed her work on aid effectiveness and civil society collaboration. At the GIZ, where she worked as education advisor, she supported Ministries of Education and civil society partners in sub-Sahara African countries to engage in education sector planning and programming for multi-donor funding. In 2015, Caroline joined UNHCR as Regional Education Officer for West Africa based in Senegal. She worked on the regionalisation and expansion of the DAFI programme and the inclusion of refugees in national primary and secondary schools in the region. Caroline is now based in Berlin supporting UNHCR’s global work in tertiary education.

© Fouzia Warsame

Fouzia Warsame is currently the Dean of Faculty of Education & Social Sciences at the Somali National University (SNU). As one of the first academics to join SNU after it was re-instated in 2013, Fouzia has since made significant contributions with her leadership and commitment. She is a motivated educationalist with more than 10 years in the field of education and has expansive academic as well as practical experiences in educational programs and policies that incorporate instruction, research, curriculum development, managerial, administrative, and advocacy roles.

Fouzia is a staunch advocate for inclusive and equitable higher education. She believes that access to and provision of quality higher education is indispensable for Somalia in order to accelerate national development goals and to foster citizenship. Fouzia has worked very closely with the Federal Ministry of Education, Culture and Higher Education since 2012 in various capacities including as a senior advisor to the Minister (2014) and as advisor for Teacher Education Policy (2015). In particular, she has contributed to two Education Sector Plans, the National Work Plan, the National Teacher Education Policy and the National Curriculum Committee. Additionally, Fouzia is an active member of Borderless Higher Education for Refugees (BHER) project; the Connected Learning in Crisis Consortium (CLCC) as well as the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE).  Both her academic and professional work focus on the nexus between education, community and global connections, and how such connections can play a critical role towards systemic change, social justice and sustainable nation building in Somalia. Fouzia has M.Ed. from University of Alberta, Canada. Her Ph.D., at OISE – University of Toronto, is currently on hold while she is working in Somalia.

© Dr. Christian Hülshörster

Dr. Christian Hülshörster graduated from Münster university with a degree in German studies, social sciences and catholic theology and did his Ph.D. work in the field of German literature. He then worked as a lecturer / guest professor in the USA, Great Britain and Thailand. From 1998 to 2001 he was a DAAD lecturer at Chulalongkorn University and head of the DAAD Information Centre in Bangkok, before returning to Germany to take up a post in Bonn as head of the DAAD section responsible for international university marketing. From 2005 – 2010 he served as director of the DAAD regional office in Cairo, before taking up his new post as head of division 44 (North Africa, Middle East, Gulf States). Since 2016, he has been in charge of “Scholarship Affairs Southern Hemisphere” at DAAD HQ. Dr. Hülshörster lectures frequently on topics regarding Middle East affairs, science & cultural diplomacy and CIMIC (civilian – military cooperation). Being a reserve officer of the German Army, Dr Hülshörster also served with the European Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFOR MED), “Operation Sophia” in 2016.

Mareike Khaskeia graduated from FU Berlin with a master’s degree in political sciences in 2011. She then worked as a DAAD program manager for the German-Arab Transformation Partnership. Since 2018, she has been in charge for the DAAD scholarship section “Sub-Saharan-Africa” with a special focus on the In-Country/In-Region programs. In this context, she is also responsible for the scholarships that are awarded within the BMZ financed special initiative “Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees”.


Screenshot of map with location of DAAD-office marked