Complementary pathways through education

UNHCR and partners are working towards the creation of additional, complementary pathways that offer protection and solutions in third countries through higher education scholarships.

With partners, UNHCR is currently supporting the ‘Japanese initiative for the future of Syrian refugees’, under which 100 Syrian students are sponsored over five years from 2017 onwards to complete a masters’ degrees in Japan. The Japanese Government has guaranteed their protection under international law until employment or further study opportunities become available, either in Japan or elsewhere. Immediate family may accompany the students, and tuition and living expenses will be covered by Japanese International Cooperation Agency. UNHCR will assist in publicizing the programme and in the identification of candidates.

While such initiatives can greatly benefit refugees, implementation of complementary pathways requires both protection safeguards and administrative measures. UNHCR supports states with technical advice in these areas.

Key considerations for third countries when developing complementarity pathways through education include:

  • Access to legal status in the country where the scholarship will be provided – including support to obtain the necessary travel documents and the possibility for the refugee to remain in the third country after completion of the scholarship programme;
  • Participation in the programme should not jeopardize the right or legal status of refugees or other protection afforded to refugees under international law;
  • The programme should take into account the needs, interest and situation of refugees, including the cultural context, their specific educational and learning needs, disabilities, inability to provide required documentation, as well as language proficiency;
  • Scope of the scholarship programme, such as provision of financial support, living costs, counselling and psychosocial support, language support, travel costs, possibility for family members to join, etc.

Are you a refugee looking for a scholarship? Please visit our Scholarship portal for more information.​