Covering tertiary education fees of refugees
The project in brief
The project was implemented by the State Migration Service (SMS) in Azerbaijan. It began in 2020 and ended in 2023.
Asylum-seekers, refugees, and persons under the protection of UNHCR are entitled and have access to education in Azerbaijan. However, tertiary education is not free of charge for foreigners, including refugees in the Republic of Azerbaijan, which limited their access to tertiary education. Therefore, at the first Global Refugee Forum held on December 17-18, 2019, a pledge was made by the Government of Azerbaijan “to cover the education fees of one person who has received refugee status in our country by one higher education institution every year" and the implementation of the mentioned pledge was ensured. Full scholarship was granted to eligible refugees for the entire period of higher education.
The key goal of the activity was to ensure education rights of persons recognized as refugees in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Taking into account that the number of persons who have received higher education among refugees in the Republic of Azerbaijan was low, as well as the fact that some of them have been living in our country for a long period of time, ensuring their self-reliance in the future via facilitating access to higher education was among the main purposes of the initiative.
Main activities of the Good Practice
The Government of Azerbaijan attaches special importance to the implementation of education rights of the population, including migrants and refugees. The current legislative framework allows refugees and asylum seekers, as well as persons under protection of UNHCR in Azerbaijan to enjoy the right to education. Refugees registered with the State Migration Service, asylum-seekers, as well as persons under the protection of the UNHCR and their children are provided with education in public schools of the country, as well as in higher education institutions in accordance with the current legislation.
However, according to the national legislation education at higher education institutions is not free for foreigners, including refugees. Therefore, a voluntary pledge was made by the Government of Azerbaijan in this regard. This initiative was expected to enhance financial independence of refugees and increase their social well-being, as well as to ensure their competitiveness in the modern labour market.
In order to implement the pledge, the State Migration Service launched interagency consultations. Working group meetings of focal points were held for swift coordination of the interagency activities, as a result of which agreement was reached to submit relevant proposals to the Government. Taking into account the vulnerability of these persons, the Government consented to cover tertiary education fees of eligible refugees.
Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice
In 1992, the Republic of Azerbaijan joined the 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees. Article 22 of the Convention, envisages “according to refugee’s treatment as favourable as possible, with respect to education other than elementary education and, as regards access to the remission of fees and charges and the award of scholarships”. At the same time, Article 6 of the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan dated May 21, 1999 "On the Status of Refugees and IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons)" persons who have been granted with refugee status are entitled to education in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Furthermore, Azerbaijan was among the first countries to support and join the Global Compact on Refugees, where paragraph 68 says that States and relevant stakeholders will contribute resources and expertise to expand and enhance the quality and inclusiveness of national education systems to facilitate access by refugee and host community children, adolescents and youth to primary, secondary and tertiary education.
Political will of the Government, the legislation in place and strong interagency cooperation were main elements that facilitated the implementation of the good practice.
- State Migration Service of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
- The Ministry of Science and Education of the Republic of Azerbaijan.
What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?
A number of practical and technical challenges regarding implementation procedures were faced during the application of the activity.
How they were overcome
The challenges were resolved thanks to interagency coordination and the swift reaction of focal points.
Results of the Good Practice
- Azerbaijan granted scholarship to 2 eligible refugees for tertiary education
- Education fees were covered by relevant higher education institutions
- Refugees got opportunity to acquire professions in accordance with the requirements of the modern labour market and engage in labour activities in the relevant profession
The Government works on proposals to continue the initiative in the future. Relevant measures are currently being taken by the State Migration Service and the Ministry of Education and Science to solve any difficulties that may arise.