Conflict, forced relocation and climate change have disrupted the lives of millions of people around the world. In Ukraine, for example, a year of armed conflict has resulted in the displacement of more than 13 million people and the destruction of much of the nation’s infrastructure, including schools and universities. As a result, the education of many young Ukrainians has been interrupted, as has their ability to build their futures.

By offering a vital link between learning and earning, education beyond the primary grades improves both an individual’s quality of life and society at large — but for refugees and for students affected by conflict, it is largely inaccessible. They are confronted by such barriers as language difficulties, unrecognized qualifications, missed coursework, high tuition costs and limited job prospects — not to mention the emotional and psychological toll of displacement. According to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, among the world’s more than 82 million refugees, only 5% of eligible youth are enrolled in higher education programs.

Three important steps would expand opportunities for refugee and displaced students:

Expand pathways to higher education

Complementary education pathway programs allow displaced young people to seek higher education in places outside their home country without the logistical hurdles found in traditional application processes. These programs are typically driven by several coordinating partners, such as governments, civil society organizations, academic institutions, and faith-based organizations, which provide housing, emotional and financial support, and more.

Invest in psychosocial support and social-emotional learning

To help students from conflict settings succeed in the long term — and in higher education — host governments and academic institutions must offer both psychosocial support, which addresses the impact of their contexts and experiences, and social-emotional learning, which helps them develop soft-skill competencies. These types of support can come in a variety of forms, such as counseling, mentorship, peer support and group therapy. Providing these services can help students cope with the trauma they have experienced and create a safe and supportive environment in which they can learn and grow.

Open pathways to entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship programs can provide alternative pathways for refugees and displaced people to learn a new skill or trade and earn a living. Such programs equip students with the skills and knowledge to start and run their own businesses, setting them up for future success and contributing to the economic development of their host communities and of the areas where they eventually settle, whether back in their home country or elsewhere.

Read the full article about refugee and displaced students by Snizhana Leu and Uzma Ansar at Degrees.