Expanding Access to Higher Education for Refugees

Providing displaced populations worldwide with continuity of higher education.

Location: Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Syria and Tajikistan

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  Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school compared to their non-refugee peers. In higher education as well, only one percent of refugee students enroll in college or university and many existing university students may need to unenroll once they become refugees. The disparity in educational attainment between refugees and non-refugees is actually increasing over time.

Refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school compared to their non-refugee peers. In higher education as well, only one percent of refugee students enroll in college or university and many existing university students may need to unenroll once they become refugees. The disparity in educational attainment between refugees and non-refugees is actually increasing over time.

The MIT Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the Refugee Action Hub (ReACT) partnered, with support from the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), to provide displaced populations worldwide with continuity of higher education. With ReACT’s educational models and support, refugee scholars enroll in the MITx MicroMasters in Data, Economics, and Development Policy (DEDP) program, a carefully crafted model of blended online and in-person learning that is augmented to address the unique educational and professional obstacles facing refugees.

The goal is to make graduate-level education in data analysis and development economics accessible and affordable, especially those who face heightened barriers to accessing online content, higher education, and employment opportunities.

In the summer of 2018, ReACT sponsored seven refugee learners from Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iran, Syria, Tajikistan who took and passed the online portions of two courses. As they continue with the program, they will complete the remaining three courses in the MicroMasters series, partake in a paid internship, attend skills-building workshops including entrepreneurship, innovation, and professional development, and take the proctored exams required to earn the MicroMasters credential.

Upon earning their MicroMasters in DEDP in summer of 2019, we hope to see some of these learners selected as part of the blended Master’s program, where MicroMasters credential holders spend a semester at MIT and complete a capstone to earn a Master’s in Data, Economics, and Development Policy.

For further information, please contact Maya Duru at mduru@povertyactionlab.org and Robert D. Fadel at rdfadel@mit.edu.