Since 1992, the German government has funded the annual Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) to support tertiary education for deserving refugees worldwide. The programme grants scholarships to refugees at universities, colleges and polytechnics in their host countries. In 2008, the programme also started offering education opportunities in their countries of origin to refugees considering repatriation.
The DAFI programme contributes to skills development, empowerment and academic achievement as part of a broader UNHCR strategy of promoting self-reliance and durable solutions for refugees. Its main objectives are to achieve self-reliance by providing a higher education that will lead to gainful employment; develop qualified human resources among the displaced population and build the capacity and leadership of individual refugees for when they return home; support the refugee community in camps as qualified professionals, including teachers and community workers, until a durable solution is found; facilitate integration and contribute skills and qualified human resources to the host country if repatriation is not desired or not possible; and serve as a role model for other refugees to further their education, particularly female students.
While the numbers of DAFI students are small, their impact is huge because of their areas of expertise. Some work in business and government, others are employed by UNHCR and other United Nations agencies.