Internationalization: a win-win situation

Internationalization both benefits refugee students in obtaining European accredited courses and meets the strategic objectives of partner Universities

At the Jamiya Project, partnering with European universities has been an integral part of our model in reconnecting Syrian students with higher education. While the provision of “western” education — content, pedagogy and accreditation — may appear to primarily benefit refugee students, we’ve found through our collaborations with various European higher education institutions that it is also very much to the advantage of their internationalization strategies.


From the perspective of refugee students, academic recognition or certification from a well-known European university is a stamp of approval with the potential to either open doors in MENA should they remain in the region or serve as a transferrable and internationally accepted credential or standard should they move to say, Europe. Additionally, European university courses often introduce students in the Middle East to more project-based collaborative pedagogy and discursive learning environments.


Partnering with organizations like the Jamiya Project delivering education in an international context, has three evident advantages for European universities:

  • Builds the necessary skills to accommodate an increasingly culturally diverse student population at home
University of Gothenburg recording studio used to create some Jamiya course content

The ongoing political, economic and social instability globally has contributed to the rise in migrants and refugees seeking new and safer lives in Europe. With a record 1.3 million seeking asylum in Europe, institutions play a critical role in the integration of these newcomers. By partnering with international education organizations, these universities gain experience working in a global context; adapting courses and teaching to be culturally relevant for diverse audiences.

  • Creates a more culturally competent community

Evident from long established programs like Erasmus, internationalization does not only benefit international students. Domestic students and members of the local university community are also able to increase respective knowledge and cultural exposure giving them a competitive advantage in the skills necessary to succeed in a global labor market.

  • Strategically attracts more international scholars

Within the internationalization strategic objectives of competitive universities across the world is a desired increase in international student enrollment for reasons such as the aforementioned building of cultural competent learning communities. However, beyond that, with the rising costs of higher education, universities benefit from the greater funding from international tuition fees. Expanding their education influence to regions such as the Middle East makes the university more enticing, more internationally-experienced and reputable for prospective international students.

With the disrupted higher education of 90,000+ Syrian refugees and the number of asylum-seekers fleeing to Europe, universities on the continent have a responsibility to step-in and mitigate the best they can whether that’s through scholarships, social integration or partnering with organizations delivering higher education abroad. Thankfully, it is a win-win situation: in exchange for reconnecting refugees with education, European Unis gain capacity, cultural competency and competitive advantage. That being said, the implications of these partnerships far surpass a mere best practice or recommendation and the onus is on both sides. As NGOs or non-profits, it is our responsibility to leverage the other side: these seemingly profit driven policies, institutions or contexts of higher education. With the increasing demand of higher education needs in today’s crisis, we cannot be made complacent solely by advocating for changing said policies; we must actively make use of them to achieve social impact.

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