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The UNICORE Scholarship Program: Empowering Refugees Through Educational Opportunities

Article by Luwam Mebrahtu | April 8, 2024

Programs such as the University Corridors for Refugees (UNICORE) scholarship programs offer a possible pathway to higher education for individuals who have been displaced due to conflict and persecution. These programs serve as beacons of hope in a world characterized by displacement and uncertainty. As a beneficiary of this program, I can attest to its substantial impact on my journey towards academic achievement and personal growth.

This year UNICORE 6.0 exemplifies the strength of cooperation, bringing together 39 Italian universities, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and esteemed partners including Caritas Italiana, Diaconia Valdese, and Jesuit Refugee Service. UNICORE collaborates to establish educational settings that are inclusive, welcoming diversity and promoting opportunities for refugee students who are currently residing in Kenya, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The eligibility requirements UNICORE 6.0 places an emphasis on inclusiveness, extending a warm welcome to individuals who come from a variety of academic backgrounds and interests. In order to be accepted into the Second Cycle Degree Program of their choice, applicants must prove that they are officially recognized as refugees by UNHCR and meet the academic requirements and apply by 15th April 2024 at 12 pm (noon, UTC+2)*. The Committee of Experts will evaluate the documentation and online interviews; the selection process is defined by transparency and impartiality, ensuring that all candidates are given an equal opportunity throughout the process.

Once admitted, students gain access to a comprehensive assistance system that is provided by universities that collaborate with one another. This support includes financial assistance, academic coaching, assistance with accommodation, and necessary supplies, all of which are designed to facilitate academic performance and personal well-being simultaneously. UNICORE places a strong emphasis on English language proficiency, which reflects the organization's dedication to maintaining effective communication and global participation.

My personal experience with UNICORE demonstrates the program's capacity to generate significant transformation. In 2019, I fled from Eritrea in order to escape from forced military service and persecution. I was able to obtain international protection in Ethiopia and used the opportunity to apply for the UNICORE 3.0 scholarship, one of the few avenues for refugees to pursue higher education. Persistence paid off and I was granted a Veneto regional scholarship to attend a master’s program in Human Rights and multi-level governance at Padova University in Padua. The UNICORE scholarship opened the door for me, despite certain challenges I encountered while applying for the scholarship.

As I boarded an aircraft headed for Italy, I experienced a range of emotions as I thought about the difficulties that countless refugees had to overcome while making dangerous journeys. Although my journey to Europe was somewhat comfortable, I couldn't ignore the challenges faced by those who had to cross deserts and navigate through risks posed by smugglers.

Yet, amidst these reflections, I found solace in the knowledge that UNICORE offers a safer, legal pathway to higher education for refugees. I am encouraging refugee students to take advantage of this opportunity as it represents hope and gives them the freedom to pursue their academic goals and make significant contributions to society. Through UNICORE, I can gain a sense of purpose and belonging, enabling me to embrace my identity as a refugee scholar and advocate for education worldwide.

Looking forward, UNICORE continues to drive positive transformation, not only for individual recipients but also for global refugee education. By investing in the potential of displaced youth and promoting inclusivity in higher education, UNICORE paves the way for a more equitable and prosperous future. As I gained this opportunity, I am committed to paying it forward, dedicated to promoting refugee education and empowerment on a global scale.

Lastly, UNICORE is an actual example of both the transformational potential of education and the tenacity of the human spirit. It provides optimism in situations formerly filled with hopelessness, granting refugees the chance to achieve their maximum capabilities and make positive contributions to a more promising future. Let us collaborate in constructing a global society where knowledge is limitless, and every displaced person has the opportunity to flourish.

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thank you luwam, for sharing your experience with us. i hope this will help for so many refugees out there, and please keep going on what you are doing with our community and follow refugees.

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