Kiron University – A Crowdfunding campaign to provide refugees access to a free academic education and degrees
In this guest entry, Ronny Röwert puts the spotlight on a recent crowdfunding-based non-profit initiative to provide education for refugees. Ronny Röwert is an analyst at CHE Consult, a German consultancy and research company on higher education, based in Berlin. He holds a Diploma-Degree in Economics from the University of Freiburg and has also studied at the University of Kiel and University of Auckland, New Zealand. His research interests relate to internationalisation, change management, digitisation and economic impact analysis in the higher education system.
Worldwide, 59.5 million people are on the move as refugees or displaced people within their home countries according to the UN refugee agency UNHCR . That population would be equivalent to the population of Great Britain or enough to make them citizens of the world’s 24th biggest country. Although the current reception of these high numbers of displaced people in the world in the media and political arena is mainly limited to the notion of a temporary crisis, the international community as well as national states will inevitably have to deal with not only short but also medium and long term remedies for this permanent humanitarian global challenge. The major causes of migration – poverty, conflicts, economic crises and negative consequences of climate change – will not disappear and so does not the flux of refugees and internally displaced people.
The majority of refugees are young and often well qualified and talented people. Refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people in regions of crisis face particular obstacles to access education in general and higher education in particular both in their home as well as in their host countries. In the 2013 Global Trends Report, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees identified as main challenges: lack of legal documentation and school certificates, high international student fees, lack of capacity of educational institutions as well as language barriers. All these factors prevent people to live up to their potential and therefore cause despair, unstable societies and high integration costs for host countries.