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Refugees access to higher education: Students' perspectives


Info about event


Friday 12 March 2021,  at 13:00 - 14:00


Online (Zoom)

The aim of this webinar series is to open a space for students, practioners and researchers to

engage together in issues related to the inclusion of students with a refugee background into

higher education (HE) structures. What brings the participants together is their wish to understand

further the dynamics at play, not only the obstacles but also the opportunities in widening access,

from multiple perspectives. We believe a diversity of voices should be heard to support the idea

that higher education can provide a range of answers and opportunities for people undergoing

forced migration in all their diversity; and to support further action to improve access to HE. And

we decided that the first voices that should be heard is that of the students themselves.


In this 5th session of our webinar series, former students with a refugee background, Cavid

Nabiyev and Malaz Safarjalani, were invited to share their experience and perspectives as

students on inclusion and communities.



Press here to watch the recorded webinar



Passcode: 2Oz$.zcZ


Cavid Nabiyev (original: Cavid Nəbiyev) is a diversity rights defender from Azerbaijan. The

preferred pronoun is [O]. Since 2012, Cavid works towards the improvement of the human rights

of the LGBTI persons in Azerbaijan. O is an International Advocacy officer at Nafas LGBT

Azerbaijan Alliance focused mainly on the UN’s human rights and development mechanisms. In

2016, O was awarded by the British Council as a global LGBTI rights influencer. Cavid is OLIve

scholar, and currently studying for a master’s degree in Human Rights at the Central European

University. Cavid’s research topic (for thesis) is “Claiming rights and justice for LGBTIs in the

post-pandemic era.”


Malaz Safarjalani studied Business in Damascus, then European Economic Integration in

College of Europe Bruges. He subsequently consulted for the EU delegation in Syria on study to

design Higher Education access response mechanism. He joined Jamiya Project in 2016, which

aims to create Blended Open Online Courses. After gaining experience in tech startups, Malaz

currently works as a Finance Officer for Out of the Box International which consults on

Erasmus+ projects for youth and micro businesses.

Cavid and Malaz’s very insightful contributions can be analyzed through the lens of intersection.

Their talks showed the complexities of being a refugee student, which cannot be reduced to

merely “being a refugee” and “being a student.” To help students with a refugee or forced

migration background to access, navigate and complete higher education studies successfully,

one has to take this complexity into account and go beyond reductive labelling. Both talks pointed to the fact that HE policies intersect at different levels with social policies, and prevent

students from experiencing smooth higher education pathways. The geopolitical context also

frames access to HE, in defining which type of education is accessible to whom, where and at

which cost.


Both presentations and the following discussions pointed to the fact that the people who can

and do make a difference in supporting students usually go beyond any limited categorization

and embrace the students’ full complexity, wealth and depth as individuals. Also mentioned was

the need to create safe spaces which make it possible for individuals to engage fully with

diverse academic and non-academic communities, and to contribute actively to higher


education programmes as full agents of their own educational pathways.