28 August 2018

Meiji Gakuin University partners with the UNHCR to provide access to higher education for refugees

The United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), as part of its continuous outreach efforts about the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), shares this story related to Goals 4 and 16, submitted by Meiji Gakuin University, a UNAI member institution located in Japan. 

28 August 2018 - Meiji Gakuin University (Japan), a member institution of the United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI), in accordance with its principle of “Do for Others” launched the "Internal Internationalization Project” and on 24 May 2017, made an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and Japan Association for UNHCR in order to participate in the UNHCR-Refugee Higher Education Programme (RHEP) coordinated by these entities. 

Such programme, implemented by eleven Japanese institutions of higher education, supports refugees who live in Japan for them to complete a four-year undergraduate degree program through scholarships provided by participant universities that cover tuition fees and other expenses. The aim of the program is to grant access to higher education for refugees in Japan who would otherwise have difficulty completing undergraduate studies. The actual selection is undertaken by the coordinating entities.

The Representative of the UNHCR in Japan Dirk Hebecker sees the programme as a "powerful source of hope for not just the refugee students, but also their families". In the same line, Saburo Takizawa, from the Japan Association for UNHCR, says that a programme allowing refugees to be educated at universities "is like a dream come true" that also "broadens the perspectives of the students around them, motivating and inspiring them".

This is also noted by the President of the university, Yasuo Matsubara, who also highlights that the programme, aside from being a "positive influence", embodies "everything for which" the university stands for. Meiji Gakuin University hosts one refugee student per academic year and the selected one can be enrolled in degree programmes in English language, which are offered by the Department of Global and Transcultural Studies.