Close sites icon close
Search form

Search for the country site.

Country profile

Country website

DAFI Tertiary Scholarship Programme

DAFI Tertiary Scholarship Programme

“The experience [DAFI] also taught me that I want to go into a world where education should be free, and it should be available for all.”
- Nigara, DAFI alumna
Nigara, a DAFI scholarship student

Nigara is a DAFI alumna from Afghanistan and the founder of the Ariana Learning Center in Tajikistan (education centre for Afghan refugees, with a focus on providing courses and resources for women). She studied economics at the National University of Tajikistan.

Higher education is a priority for UNHCR, as outlined in Education 2030: A Strategy for Refugee Education, forming an integral part of UNHCR’s protection and solutions mandate.

Higher education makes it possible for thousands of refugee youth to develop skills and earn qualifications to allow them to become change-makers who can take the lead in identifying solutions to the challenges that affect them and their communities.

The DAFI scholarship programme constitutes one of the five core pillars of the strategy to achieve 15 per cent enrolment of young refugee women and men in higher education by the year 2030 – the 15by30 Roadmap.


The DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme offers qualified refugee and returnee students the possibility to earn an undergraduate degree in their country of asylum or home country.

2022 marked the 30th anniversary of the DAFI programme, which remains the cornerstone of UNHCR’s strategy to achieve and exceed 15 per cent enrolment of refugees in higher education by 2023 (the 15by30 target). As of October 2023, global enrolment of refugees in higher education reached 7 per cent.

In 2022, 9,043 refugees from 50 countries of origin were enrolled in DAFI scholarships in 56 countries around the world. Furthermore, women made up 43 per cent of the DAFI programme, which is on track to achieve gender parity by 2025. A total of 2,722 new scholarships were awarded in 2022 with the DAFI programme also receiving the highest number of applications to date, 18,818 in total, reflecting increased demand and greater need for investment in higher education scholarships and opportunities for refugees. 

Through the dedicated support of the Government of Germany, along with the support of the government of Denmark, as well as other private partners and foundations, the programme has supported over 24,000 young refugees to undertake tertiary studies since 1992.




In honour of 30 years of DAFI, the 2022 report is composed entirely of reflections written by 30+ DAFI scholarship recipients. Throughout the report, the writers reflect beyond the traditional asylum narrative that refugees are often asked to share. They focus on the specific moment that inspired them to pursue their chosen field of study, their work leading projects in the arts, sciences and community development, and the organisations and initiatives that they have founded or plan to pursue. Their insights, expertise and vision for the future reflect the dynamic impact of the DAFI programme as well as the true potential of investing in higher education for refugees.

To learn more, please see the 2022 DAFI Programme Annual Report and accompanying 2022 DAFI Country factsheets for a deep dive into metrics and highlights by country.

The strategic priorities of the DAFI programme are to:

An icon of a person pointing at a board

Promote refugee self-reliance

through increased access to opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship

An icon of people within a frame

Empower students to contribute knowledge, skills and leadership

and to facilitate peaceful coexistence with host communities during displacement and upon return

An icon of a book and a computer

Strengthen the protective impact of education

by encouraging lifelong learning

An icon of a little hand reaching for a bigger hand

Provide role models for refugee children and youth

to demonstrate the impact of education on individuals, communities and societies

The scholarship covers a range of costs, including tuition, fees, study materials, food, transportation, accommodation and other expenses.

To amplify academic achievement and skills development, DAFI scholars receive additional support through close monitoring, academic preparatory and language classes based on students’ needs, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities. DAFI student clubs and alumni groups are active in many countries and make valuable contributions in the communities that host them.

DAFI programme currently operates in:

  • Africa: Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
  • The Americas: Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico.
  • Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Islamic Republic of Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Thailand.
  • Europe: Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Republic of Türkiye.
  • The Middle East & Northern Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Yemen.

Are you a refugee looking for a scholarship?

If you are an eligible candidate and DAFI exists in your country, you can request a DAFI Application form from your UNHCR country office. All applications need to be directed to the respective UNHCR country offices.
Visit the DAFI programme FAQs page for more information.
See the Scholarship portal for other scholarship opportunities.
Stay up to date on UNHCR's latest news about education.
X icon
Facebook icon

Contact us

If you would like to share feedback or report a technical issue, please get in touch with the Education section: