News and Events

In the News

Saving Syria’s ‘lost generation’

By Heather Horn

What do you call an entire generation that never even finishes college? That’s the threat facing Syria’s young adults. In the years leading up to the current civil war, enrollment figures for Syrian tertiary education had been climbing steadily upward—from 12 percent of the college-age population in 2002, according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, to 26 percent in 2010, on the eve of the Syrian uprising. Now, the estimated 100,000 university-qualified refugees currently scattered throughout the Middle East and Europe must place their hopes in schools outside Syria—and that’s to say nothing of those still inside the country, where few educational institutions remain functional. In neighboring Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan, all of which have been overwhelmed with refugees since the start of the conflict, only a fraction of students have found ways to continue their studies, despite the number of Syrian students in Turkish universities, for example, reportedly quadrupling in recent years. With professors and researchers displaced as well, Syria’s entire university infrastructure is at risk.

Go to original article »

View on Migration: Universities welcome Syrian scholars

By Shyamantha Asokan

SciDev.Net featured IIE-SRF in a recent article on the effect of the Syrian crisis on the country’s professors and the role that universities globally play in providing these scholars with safe haven to continue their academic work. IIE-SRF Senior Research and Communications Manager James King was interviewed about IIE-SRF and the program’s efforts in response to the Syrian crisis. King comments, “We’re not only working to save lives, although that is the most important thing, we’re also saving minds and careers.” He adds, “To ignore that intellectual capital is to the peril of Syria and the Middle East as a whole. That expertise will be essential to rebuilding Syria one day.”

Go to original article »

From Warzone to U.S. Campuses: Stories of Syrian Professors Making Impact

By Jim Luce

The Huffington Post recently featured a story about the impact of two IIE-SRF Fellows from Syria on their host university campuses in Salisbury, Maryland, where they continue their research. Dr. Adib Sha’ar specializes in computer engineering and has focused his research on detecting fraud in voting machines. A pharmacologist, Dr. Khaled Hasan researches the hormone leptin, with the potential to drastically lower the cost of blood pressure medications. The article highlights how these scholars and their stories have impacted IIE Trustee Mitzi Perdue and spurred her commitment to helping address the Syrian refugee crisis. As Ms. Perdue notes, “The reason I volunteer for IIE is because I believe so strongly in what they do…IIE-SRF knows that saving the lives of scholars means that two of the most important functions of civilization can be met: adding to our store of knowledge and teaching future students.”

Go to original article »

After the Bombs

By Elisabeth Pain

Science Careers interviewed an IIE-SRF fellow of computer science from Syria. The scholar describes her career before the war in Syria, the escalation of the conflict around her, her decision to leave the country, and IIE-SRF’s role in helping her revive her academic career. She also addresses the special challenges that scholars face professionally when escaping violence in their home countries, commenting that they “need opportunities to rebuild their personal and professional lives.”

Go to original article »

The Refugee Crisis and Higher Ed

By Elizabeth Redden

Of the more than four million Syrian refugees in the Middle East and North Africa, the Institute of International Education (IIE) estimates that as many as 450,000 are 18-22 years old. Of that group, it assumes based on prewar enrollment rates that 90,000 to 110,000 are qualified for university. More than four years into Syria's civil war, the number of displaced would-be university students may well be even higher.

Go to original article »

American Universities Offer Opportunities for Syrian Students, but Resources Are Drying Up

By Rebecca Prinster

The war has led to a breakdown of Syria’s educational system, and American scholars worry about the effect on the country’s future. In a joint report by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the University of California (UC), Davis, titled We Will Stop Here and Go No Further: Syrian University Students and Scholars in Turkey, the authors caution that if “successive age-cadres of Syrians are unable to continue their education, Syria will lose its future doctors, teachers, engineers, and university professionals.”

Go to original article »

Lost generation looms as refugees miss university

By Declan Butler

Human-rights organizations are calling on universities and governments worldwide to invest more in the education of the hundreds of thousands of student refugees who are fleeing war-torn regions of the Middle East. They warn that the countries in conflict risk losing a future generation of scientists, engineers, physicians, teachers and leaders — and that university-aged refugees who have found shelter elsewhere represent a crucial opportunity to reverse some of the lost intellectual capital.

Go to original article »

A Novel Approach to Getting Syrian Students Into Universities

By Benjamin Plackett

In Lebanon, the Lebanese Association of Scientific Research has developed an innovative program for enrolling Syrian students at local universities. This “very pragmatic model,” according to IIE-SRF's James R. King, prioritizes students who are the most likely to graduate and finds ways to enroll them in such a way that benefits partner universities financially. 

Go to original article »

New Universities To Teach Syrian Refugees

By Benjamin Plackett

In Turkey, there are preliminary plans to establish three new universities for Syrian refugee students and scholars. The universities aim to enroll large numbers of Syrians and, in some cases, allow them to study and teach in their native Arabic. IIE-SRF's James R. King interviewed.

Go to original article »

Saving Scholars Who Become Victimized in the Middle East

By Chris Chaky

PassBlue, a project of the Ralph Bunch Institute at the CUNY Graduate Center, interviewed IIE-SRF Director Sarah Willcox for a feature on IIE-SRF’s response to growing threats to scholars in the Middle East in the wake of continued civil war. “For scholars, the fund is a way not only to continue pursuing research safely but to also work on research that they could not do otherwise because of restrictions in their home country. Amid all the upheavals in the world recently, the safety of scholars remains the fund’s fundamental mission.” With a steadily increasing number of applications from the MENA region, IIE-SRF’s attention has necessarily “moved from persecution and individual concerns of the scholar who speaks up because of his or her academic work, to a focus [on] responding to a conflict where hundreds or thousands of scholars may be affected by civil conflict.”

Go to original article »