Kiron Open Higher Education

2016 UBS Social Innovator for Europe, Middle East and Africa

Integrating refugees through higher education

Kiron Open Higher Education is a non-profit organization aiming to integrate refugees through higher education in their host countries. Kiron relies on an innovative combination of online and offline learning to provide accessible, sustainable, and cost-effective education to refugees.

The Problem

Refugees and asylum seekers face high obstacles when accessing higher education in their host countries. The UNHCR identified the main challenges as: 

  1. the need for legal documentation; 
  2. high student fees; 
  3. the lack of capacity in educational institutions; 
  4. language barriers. 

These obstacles prevent around 5 million people from living up to their potential and lead to high integration costs in host countries. 

The Solution

Kiron offers a blended-learning study programme. The students participate in online studies up to two years. Afterwards, they transfer to one of Kiron's partner universities, where they graduate with an accredited university degree. 

Kiron resolves the four obstacles by the following measures: 

  1. enabling its students to enroll into university without immediate submission of legal documents; 
  2. exempting them from tuition fees; 
  3. building high capacities by combining online and offline study elements and using vacant university places from student dropouts; and 
  4. offering mainly courses in English and teaching necessary language skills in English, German and other languages.