Refugee Advocacy and Higher Education Access

Friday, February 5, 2021 05:00 pm - 06:30 pm


This meeting,* co-hosted by the University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants (UARRM), Student Voices for Refugees (SVR), the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and Rutgers Global, will be an opportunity for U.S. undergraduate and graduate students to learn about trends in refugee higher education access. Students will be introduced to ways they can get involved as advocates for increasing educational opportunities and in creating more accessible, welcoming, and inclusive campuses for refugees living in and outside of the U.S.


• Energize a large cohort of students - both those already engaged and those interested in the issues - for broader engagement in refugee higher education advocacy. 

• Move toward a collective vision for U.S. students, faculty, and university leaders to work together on refugee advocacy issues. 

• Galvanize support from a broad ally base, targeting U.S. college students, to involve them in a public education campaign focused on creating more accessible, welcoming campuses for forcibly displaced students. 

*This meeting will be recorded.


Welcome (5:00-5:05 p.m. EST)
Dr. Kyle Farmbry, Chair, University Alliance for Refugee and At-Risk Migrants (UARRM)
Dr. Miriam Feldblum, Executive Director, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration 

Session 1: Overview of Refugee Higher Education Access (5:05-5:25 p.m. EST)
This session will provide a general overview of issues related to refugee mobility and higher education and the humanitarian community’s response to these issues. To what extent can civil society and students help promote higher education opportunities and create more inclusive and welcoming campuses, for forcibly displaced peers in the U.S. and globally? 

Dr. Colleen Thouez, Director, Welcoming and Integrated Societies Division, Open Society Foundations
Rosie Hughes, Refugee Education Pathways Expert, UNHCR - Washington, D.C. 

Moderator, Olivia Issa, Co-Chair, Student Voices for Refugees (SVR), Executive Director, No Lost Generation - George Washington University Chapter 

Session 2: Institutional Approaches to Welcoming Newcomers (5:25-5:45 p.m. EST)
This session will focus on institutional approaches that leverage campuses and community assets to support refugee access to higher education and integration on campus. The panel will offer concrete ways for participants to identify and mobilize campus resources to foster more accessible, welcoming campuses for displaced students. 

Dr. Diya Abdo, Founder, Every Campus a Refuge, Director, Center for New North Carolinians, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Jonathan Goldman, Executive Director, Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice (SCIJ), Brown University 

Moderator, Matthew La Corte, Government Affairs Manager, Immigration Policy, Niskanen Center 

Session 3: The Student Voice (5:45-6:20 p.m. EST)
This session will provide members of the Student Voices for Refugees (SVR) Network, which includes students from refugee backgrounds and student allies, a platform to share their stories, advocacy work, and recommendations for what they think civil society and college students can do to be better allies.  

Miriam Cing, Trinity College, Advisory Board, Girl Forward
Neh Meh, Brigham Young University, Advocates for Refugees in Higher Education
Asaad Hanna, Columbia University Scholarship for Displaced Students (CUSDS), Founder, EmissaLLC
Iman Siddiqi, UCLA, Founder, University of California Refugee Students Scholarship Program

Moderator, Christina Smith, University of Maryland 

Ways to Get Involved 

Olivia Issa

Closing Remarks (6:20-6:30 p.m. EST)

Meet the Panelists

Concept Note


Additional Resources:

UNHCR Education 2030: A Strategy for Refugee Education

UNHCR Three-Year Strategy on Resettlement and Complementary Pathways

UNHCR Global Compact on Refugee


The Presidents' Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration:

Presidents' Alliance Overview

2020 Annual Impact Report 

Legislative Principles for Immigration Reform 

Higher Ed Immigration Portal 


Learning Together: Creating a Refugee Sponsorship Program Through U.S. Universities 

Student Clinic for Immigrant Justice (SCIJ) & The SCIJ Student Journey