British Council

'Overall, I can’t help but be fortunate to be granted this teaching opportunity because nothing can ever make a teacher more delighted than perceiving a Syrian and a Lebanese student progress by leaps and bounds in a 100 hour course.' - Hiba, Teacher, The Lebanese University, Beirut

Life cycle



Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Kurdistan Region of Iraq


European Union, The Madad Fund


To provide better access to higher education for refugees from Syria and young people in host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey.​


As a result of the enduring Syria refugee crisis, higher education systems in neighbouring host countries have been overwhelmed and only a small fraction of the vulnerable young refugees are currently enrolled in a university programme.

The HOPES project provided better access to higher education for refugees from Syria and young people in host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. As part of our Language for Resilience work, our role focused on supporting Syrian students entering education systems that are largely in English to overcome the language barriers they face. 


HOPES offered student counselling, scholarships, HEEAP English access courses, additional funding for local partners through an applications process, and a series of stakeholder dialogues and regional conferences. The consortium approached Ministries of Higher Education and suitable partners to offer benefits to students. We worked with 19 HOPES partner institutions to deliver HEEAP. In response to feedback, HEEAP was adapted to include travel stipends, student IT support, and a pathway to an IELTS (International English Language Test) programme. In providing better access to higher education, HOPES helped 620 students through full scholarships, advised 24,821 students on academic paths, funded 32 local projects (with 8,525 direct beneficiaries), and enabled policy dialogue through two regional conferences and 15 NSDs. 


The HOPES programmes helped students overcome language barriers and built the capacity of institutions by training 283 teachers, offering 10,283 entry tests and 8,514 places on courses. This resulted in 4,314 students successfully completing courses, with 404 students completing the IELTS programme in the final year. Many students completing HEEAP courses reported that the learnings helped with their academic courses. The majority of course participants improved their level of English by at least one CEFR band. HOPES benefited Syrians and locals at a 70/30 ratio and has a near 50/50 distribution between male and female beneficiaries, with 54 per cent of HEEAP graduates being female.

Mutual benefit

A large network of universities demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the Middle East and the Syrian community by sharing expertise in the fields of language learning and higher education, with 18 being directly involved in delivering HEEAP courses in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The project demonstrates the UK’s commitment to continue to be a strong partner for EU-funded interventions, generating influence and attraction in the UK’s higher education community and ability to deliver with international partners.