Press Release

Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence of the German DAFI Scholarship Programme

27 July 2022

Erbil, 27 July 2022 - This year marks 30 years of the DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme. This program offers qualified refugee and returnee students all over the world the possibility to earn an undergraduate college degree in their country of asylum or home country. Since 1992, the programme has supported over 18,500 young refugees around the world to undertake tertiary studies. 

UNHCR celebrated this anniversary with over 100 DAFI scholars and alumni in a day full of events, discussions, and exhibitions. Videos were presented at the event showing success and achievements of some of the graduates.  Awards of Recognition were handed out to 5 DAFI scholars who exceeded expectations in their work.

The event was attended by representatives of the Kurdistan Regional Government, representatives of the diplomatic missions, NGO partners and UN agencies, as well as DAFI scholars and alumni.

Higher Education makes it possible for a generation of change-makers that can take the lead in identifying solutions for refugee situations. Higher Education is a priority for UNHCR, as outlined in Education 2030: A Strategy for Refugee Education, forming an integral part of UNHCR’s protection and solutions mandate.

The DAFI 30th Anniversary seeks to celebrate DAFI students and alumni excellence and thank the Government of Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and all stakeholders who facilitate access to higher education opportunities for refugees and returnees in Iraq and contribute to UNHCR’s 15by30 vision, the roadmap for which includes the aim of achieving enrolment of 15% of young refugee women and men in higher education by the year 2030.

Since 2016, 420 refugee students (of which 239 are women) have been sponsored by DAFI to study at 19 universities in Iraq, both in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) and in federal Iraq.

In 2021, UNHCR received 665 applications for the new DAFI program, and 249 students were sponsored and supported with scholarships. The program covers tuition fees, study materials, food, transportation, accommodation, and other expenses. To amplify academic achievement and skills development, UNHCR provides DAFI scholars additional support through close monitoring, academic preparatory and language classes, as well as mentoring and networking opportunities.  

UNHCR also supports access to higher education and the job market through the identification of other complementary pathways for refugee students.  

 UNHCR wishes to thank the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Education to ease the access to higher education to all students in the country and in the KRI, and NGO partners and UN agencies for their support to refugee students. UNHCR appreciates the dedicated support of the government of Germany, assistance from the governments of Denmark and the Czech Republic, as well as other private donors who contribute to this programme, in the promotion of refugee self-reliance; empowerment of students to build knowledge, skills, and leadership, facilitation of peaceful coexistence with host communities during displacement and upon return; strengthening of the protective impact of education and encourage lifelong learning; and the provision of role models for refugee children and youth to demonstrate the impact of education on individuals, communities, and societies.

Celebrating 30 Years of Excellence of the German DAFI Scholarship Programme

Firas Al-Khateeb

Firas Al-Khateeb

Public Information Officer

UN entities involved in this initiative

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

Goals we are supporting through this initiative