DAFI Tertiary Scholarship Programme
- Nigara, DAFI alumna
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.
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.
The strategic priorities of the DAFI programme are to:
Promote refugee self-reliance
through increased access to opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship
Empower students to contribute knowledge, skills and leadership
and to facilitate peaceful coexistence with host communities during displacement and upon return
Strengthen the protective impact of education
by encouraging lifelong learning
Provide role models for refugee children and youth
to demonstrate the impact of education on individuals, communities and societies
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, 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.
- Europe: Azerbaijan, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Serbia, Ukraine, Republic of Türkiye.
- The Middle East & Northern Africa: Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Syria, Yemen.