Students at Milan's Politecnico | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA
Students at Milan's Politecnico | Photo: ARCHIVE/ANSA

Eleven Italian universities together with the UN refugee agency UNHCR, the foreign ministry and other organizations have joined forces to launch ''university corridors'' to give refugee students from war-torn countries the opportunity of continuing to pursue their studies in Italy, organizers said on June 15.

Eleven Italian universities together with UNHCR, the Italian foreign ministry, Italian Catholic charity Caritas, the Valdensian Diaconia Valdese and the Gandhi Charity have adhered to a protocol of understanding to give 20 refugee students who are currently in Ethiopia the possibility of continuing to pursue their studies in Italy through scholarships. 

The project, called University Corridors for Refugees (UNI-CO-RE), involves the universities of L'Aquila, Bologna, Cagliari, Florence, Milan, Padua, Perugia, Pisa, Sassari, as well as Iuav in Venice and Luiss in Rome. 

Scholarships for refugees 

The University of Florence said in a statement that the initiative was the continuation of a pilot project launched in 2019 with the participation of two universities and six students. 

Under the new protocol, the statement said, the universities will support students to complete a two-year university degree and integrate in university life, also through the support of a network of local partners. 

In particular, the University of Florence is adhering to the project with two scholarships. Students will be selected based on merit, through a public application process and by committees of experts selected by each university. 

A project for give back hope 

"Too many refugees in the world don't have access to education," said Chiara Cardoletti, UNHCR representative for Italy, the Holy See and San Marino. 

"The situation is dramatic for higher education," she said with only 3% of refugees who have access against a global average of 37%. 

''Thanks to the work of the universities involved, projects like UNI-CO-RE not only allow refugees to reach Italy safely but also to develop their talents, contributing to the local community and giving once again hope to millions of children and youths who are currently in exile due to war and persecution'', she added.

By 2030, UNHCR pursues the objective of reaching an enrollment rate of 15% in higher education programs for refugees in host and third countries. The UN agency also wants to increase safe corridors that take into consideration the specific needs and legitimate aspirations of refugees.

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