While the refugee crisis has impacted across the globe, the higher education and TVET community have often been on the ground driving local response. So, what can we learn about barriers and opportunities for lifelong learning and access to employment for refugees and asylum seekers? This session discusses two research reports exploring the role of Higher Education and – for the first time - TVET Skills provision - in global and local humanitarian response.

In 2016 a British Council report studied the response by higher education institutions in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to the Syrian refugee crisis (Fincham, 2016). The refugee community showed a strong desire to participate in Higher Education and Skills opportunities but strong differences in motivation for doing so and in the courses and approaches they saw as relevant. In this session, the British Council with UNHCR presents a further stage of this research, investigating the role of Higher Education and Skills as part of the humanitarian response to forced displacement.

The second piece of research presented in this session explores the availability, accessibility, acceptability and adaptability of TVET opportunities for refugees. Conducted by the University of London Institute of Education, this considers new data from countries across the world including Jordan, Pakistan, South Africa, Lebanon and Ethiopia.

In presenting the findings of the two reports, the panel will discuss what can be learned by the tertiary education sector locally and internationally about how they engage with government and humanitarian responses to protracted crisis.

Questions explored include:

  • How might these lessons shape the future response of the tertiary education sector nationally and internationally?
  • What is an effective intervention/provision of learning opportunities in a protracted crisis?
  • What other considerations, such as foundation courses or language provision, are important in supporting refugees to sustainable future pathways?


  • Gail Campbell, Director Education – MENA, British Council, Egypt (Chair)
  • Allison Church, Director of Educational Programme MENA, Kiron Open Higher Education, Jordan
  • Paul Grainger, Enterprise Lead – Education, Practice and Society, UCL Institute of Education, UK
  • Dr Mohamad Saad, Head of Department of Psychology, The British University in Egypt, Egypt