84 million refugees and displaced persons
The United Nations estimates that more than 84 million people are now living as refugees or displaced from their homes as a result of political unrest, economic or environmental disasters, or human rights abuses; The most in human history and double what it was just 10 years ago. Thousands are university-aged young people for whom education is the key to a secure future, yet only 5% of refugee students will have access to higher education.
The solutions, like the causes, are complex and require help and cooperation not only across borders from our political institutions, but from academia. For this reason, in 2018, the Columbia Global Centers created the Commission on Forced Migration. The Commission serves as a platform to engage, support, and share information across the community of faculty, students, and staff on issues related to forced migration. Through workshops, research, webinars, and extensive contacts with the world’s academic experts and thought leaders in the field of global migration, the Commission provides an institutional environment for more than 80 faculty members from across Columbia schools and affiliates to share research findings, create interdisciplinary networks, and explore New approaches to address the problems of forced migration.
Scholarships for displaced students
The university also established the Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students two years ago and is currently working to expand its mandate to ensure that many students are offered from Afghanistan.
“The Columbia University established the Scholarship for Displaced Students to support refugee students as they resume their studies and rebuild their lives,” Columbia University president Lee C. Bollinger said last month. “We believe colleges and universities should be leaders in this issue, and we are very proud of our success so far.”
The scholarship supports displaced students from anywhere in the world who are unable to complete their higher education. These students receive up to full tuition, housing, and living assistance while pursuing undergraduate or graduate studies at all 19 Columbia schools and their affiliates, reflecting Columbia’s full institutional commitment to addressing this global crisis. As the first scholarship at the Columbia level, and the first of its kind in the world, this program commits up to $6 million in aid to up to 30 new students each year. Guidance and support is provided through the scholarship, as well as by schools and student groups in Columbia. Across its first two cohorts, the scholarship has now supported 33 students from 19 countries, who are enrolled in 14 schools in Colombia. Applications for the following group are now open.
To donate money to help fund a scholarship for a displaced student to obtain one of 15 undergraduate degrees at Columbia University, or one of four undergraduate degrees, please go here.
Marika Olsen is Director of Communications at Columbia Global Centers.