First Global Refugee Forum

A year after the Global Compact on Refugees was affirmed by member states at the UN General Assembly, the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) will be taking place in Geneva this December. 

10 Minutes readingtime

A year after the Global Compact on Refugees was affirmed by member states at the UN General Assembly, the first Global Refugee Forum (GRF) will be taking place in Geneva this December. A Ministerial-level event, the meeting will follow-up on  the implementation of the Compact, focusing on arrangements for burden and responsibility-sharing, education, jobs and livelihoods, energy and infrastructure, solutions, and protection capacity.


Only 3% of refugees have access to higher education, compared to 37% of their peers globally. While this is up from 1%, more can and needs to be done to meet the goal of 15% by 2030. In order to advance this goal, JWL has made pledges in a number of areas.


Environmental and social crises are affecting populations across the globe on a massive scale, particularly in fragile, conflict and post-conflict regions. All are concerned and have a part to play in turning the tide. In partnership with Xavier University Bhubaneswar (India) and the Newman Institute (Sweden), we will deliver a learning pathway to an accredited, blended learning degree in Sustainable Development to displaced persons so that they may have equal access to knowledge that may well change the lives of their local and host communities and environment. We aim to reach over 1,000 students by 2023 (the next Global Refugee Forum).


Limited language proficiency is one of the may obstacles refugees face in accessing employment higher education opportunities (both at local and international levels). Our Global English Language (GEL) programme, with testing provided by Cambridge Assessment English, provides a much-needed stepping stone to these different pathways. Within the next four years, we aim to have close to 3,000 displaced students enrolled in the GEL programme (for a minimum of one full year/covering three levels).


The professional certificates currently being offered by JWL and its partner universities (Catholic University of Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany; Hekima College, Kenya, Metropolitan State University of Denver, USA, St Mary’s University London, United Kingdom) aim to develop learners’ skills in three areas: supporting the learning of others (in both formal and informal settings) including by integrating the best practices of online and on-site learning; understanding how conflicts evolved and applying practical ways for preventing, de-escalating and resolving them, fostering peace; and design and implementation of initiatives that leverage the potential of sports as a medium to address critical issues within their communities. 

By the time the next Global Refugee Forum is convened, we aim to enrol around 1,400 students across the three certificate programmes, spanning existing and (potentially) new locations. As with all of our offerings, JWL will continue to strive to reach a greater number of female students to foster gender equality and achieve gender balance across programmes.


Recognising that refugee access to higher education cannot be fully (and effectively) realised without the perspectives and contributions of refugees themselves, JWL has recently held student consultations in Domiz Refugee Camp (Iraq),  Kakuma Refugee Camp (Kenya) and Dzaleka Refugee Camp (Malawi). The objective was to bring students together in a space where they could voice and reflect upon what they perceive as challenges and opportunities for scaling refugee access to higher education, also informing our work.