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Getting Syria's college students back into class

By Anna Patton

The world’s current refugee crisis is unprecedented not only in scale — with 65 million displaced, the highest number on record — but also in demographics: unlike in previous decades, many are from middle-class backgrounds. Fleeing one’s country vastly reduces chances of getting a degree: Globally, less than 1 percent of university-aged refugees of all nationalities are in tertiary education, according to the UNHCR, compared to 32 percent among the general population.

In February, the Syria donors conference directed attention toward resilience and rebuilding, including educating refugees as future engineers, doctors and other professionals. But this is no small task. Those fleeing war often leave behind the documents they need to apply.

“The problem is so multifaceted and tremendous that we need a multitude of different approaches,” said James King.

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Barred from the Classroom for Too Long: Why the U.S. Should Do More for Syrians Pursuing Higher Education

By Sarah Houston

Attending college is a rite of passage for young adults around the world, but also a daunting task and precious opportunity that many take for granted. The process requires research, support, and investment but in today’s globalized economy having an undergraduate degree has become an expectation, not a privilege. Since the Syrian crisis began almost six years ago, the international humanitarian community has focused on providing basic needs-food, shelter, and clothing- to displaced youth. But as the war drags on with no clear end in sight, it has become evident that many young Syrians will not return to their home country or university to complete their education. Why it is a moral imperative that the U.S. help.

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A Syrian family in New Jersey create art and music that they couldn't back home

By Jason Strother

Jumana Jaber has taught visual arts at Montclair State University in New Jersey since 2013. It’s been a little different from her job teaching art and theater design in the Syrian capital, Damascus. Jaber and her family of four are among the millions of Syrians who have fled their country since the start of the civil war in 2011. But they aren't living in the US as refugees. Instead, they arrived with the help of the New York-based Institute of International Education’s Scholar Rescue Fund. Since 2002, the program has helped connect about 650 persecuted intellectuals (many from Iraq and Syria) with schools in the United States or in other safe countries. The fund splits the cost of settling academics and their families with a host institution for the first two years. It also arranges their J-1 exchange visitor and companion visas.  

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World Refugee Day: A Look at Four Syrian Scientists

By Florence Chaverneff

The Syrian crisis has forced more than half of the country’s population to be displaced. Four and a half million refugees have fled to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, and over 350,000 to Europe. In total, over 160,000 Syrians refugees have been resettled globally since the start of the crisis and over 450,000 are still in need of resettlement. As the conflict is showing no signs of abatement, devising long-term solutions to integrate refugees into host countries is proving essential.

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Higher Education Under Assault: Spotlight on IIE’s Scholar Rescue Fund

The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) engages regularly with many scientific and human rights organizations to exchange information, provide referrals, and advance our overlapping missions.  One such partner is the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF).

At the May 2016 meeting of the CHR, James King, IIE-SRF Assistant Director, spoke to CHR members about IIE-SRF’s work, including its vital support of Syrian scholars during the 21st century’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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The crisis of higher education for Syrian refugees

By Mohammad Al Ahmad (translated by Will Todman)

"I witnessed the collapse of higher education in Syria firsthand. I lived and worked in eastern Syria as vice dean of the College of Arts and Humanities in the Raqqa campus of Al-Furat University. After the Free Syrian Army took the city from the regime in March 2013, chaos subsumed Al-Furat University’s colleges and institutes. The Islamic State took over the city on January 12, 2014, and imposed specific conditions on us to be able to continue teaching. I was rendered useless, and so I decided to leave Syria after receiving a fellowship from the Scholar Rescue Fund in the Institute for International Education, in coordination with Georgetown University." Read an IIE-SRF fellow's experience in Syria's higher education sector during the conflict and his plan to educate the estimated 100,000 university-age Syrian student refugees.

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GoAbroad awards reward innovation in international ed

By Natalie Marsh

Recognising innovation in international education, the awards were presented at the NAFSA conference last week across 12 different categories.

Meanwhile, winning the Innovation in Philanthropy award was the Institute of International Education with its Emergency Student Fund & Scholar Rescue Fund, which provides financial support for international students who are suffering with crises in their home countries.

“The purpose of these awards is to acknowledge institutions, organisations, and individuals who are creating initiatives to move the field of international education forward,” according to, based in Colorado. “And to commend leaders in the community for their efforts to go beyond the conventional.”

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What happens in a university run by IS?

By Sean Coughlan

Almost exactly two years ago, Iraq's second biggest city, Mosul, was overrun by the forces of so-called Islamic State (IS). But since then, the city's university has remained open most of the time. This has raised questions about whether it has been kept open to provide a facade of normality, or whether it was being used to develop weapons, including for chemical warfare. But there are clandestine networks of Mosul students and academics who have wanted the rest of the world to know what happens in a university under IS control and in the deteriorating conditions of their city. They have been helped by the New York-based Scholar Rescue Fund, part of the Institute of International Education, which once rescued academics in Europe from the Nazis. On condition of anonymity, they describe a city of violence and fear, with public executions, vice police patrols, persecution, air raids, worsening shortages and bans on communication. 

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After the Arab Spring: 5 Writers to Watch

By Alexandra Alter

Fiction “can’t stop a war or turn down a killing machine, but it can be a triumph of the oppressed.” So says an IIE-SRF alumnus who writes novels set in his native Syria. An English translation of his most recent novel, No Knives in the Kitchen of This City, comes out this fall. He's profiled here as a writer to watch after the Arab Spring.

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GCPEA Celebrates First Year of Safe Schools Declaration


Supporting the international declaration to protect education in armed conflict is more important than ever with wars raging in many countries, the Global Coalition to Protect Education from Attack said today, marking the first anniversary of the Safe Schools Declaration, and congratulating the 53 countries that have endorsed it. By joining the Safe Schools Declaration, countries make concrete political commitments to protect students, teachers, and educational facilities during times of armed conflict. 

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