Kiron Open Higher Education France

Project Representative
Callum Hamilton, Kiron France
Creation Date: 2015
Headquarters: Paris
Geographical Reach: Global
Nature and number of beneficiaries: Refugees and displaced persons.

Kiron Open Higher Education France

About the Project

Less than one percent of refugees globally have access to higher education.

Kiron believes that everybody has the right to fulfill their potential and improve their life prospects through education. The association believes that the obstacles refugees face in accessing education can be overcome.
Kiron's vision is to provide millions of refugees worldwide with the opportunity to graduate with an accredited university degree, free of charge. No more time, potential, or lives wasted.

Kiron uses Blended Learning 2.0 - an innovative combination of online and offline learning to provide accessible, sustainable, and cost-effective education. To date, we have over 2000 students on the platform, twenty two partner universities, and four study tracks.

Kiron France is the French branch of Kiron Open Higher Education, an NGO created in Germany at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015.

Context and Issue

Kiron is a social startup non-profit organisation which aims to tackle the challenges refugees face in entering the higher education system. Kiron holds that education is a pathway to social integration; its platform provides access to online education to those with refugee status in order to facilitate this process.

The aim is not to become an alternative to traditional universities, but to provide open higher education to a group of people who currently face huge obstacles in starting or continuing their studies.

Refugees face many obstacles in accessing higher education. The United Nations Human Rights Council identifies four main barriers in their current education strategy:

1) Legal.
Refugees often do not have access to the documents necessary to apply for university, for example high school certificates from their home country or a passport. Traditional universities require proof of permission to reside in the host country, which can take years to finalise, and refugees are unable to study during this time.

2) Language.
Universities have certain language requirements that refugees new to the host country are often unable to fulfill.

3) Financial.
Refugees generally cannot afford the tuition fees associated with a traditional university education, and the cost for host governments to support them can be high.

4) University capacity.
Traditional universities can only offer places to a certain number of students, and funded places are even more rare. They often do not have the capacity to cope with large numbers of refugees.

This situation means that the process of seeking asylum, which can take years, is lost time for most refugees. They are unable to continue or begin their education, despite being motivated to learn and fulfill their potential academically and professionally. A large proportion of displaced persons lose out on years of study due to their precarious situation - 25% of Syrians aged 18-24 studied before the war started. When refugees arrive in a host country, a lack of job prospects limits their smooth integration into society.

Nobody benefits from this situation. Successful integration is key to retaining global stability in the face of the current refugee crisis. The infrastructure of host countries faces enormous social and economic strain from difficulty in integrating refugees.

Solution and Impact

Kiron offers much more than just online learning. The project believes in blended learning, where online courses are complemented with live and direct online tutoring and offline services like our Buddy Program, Mentoring Program, Study Hubs and Career Services. With a diverse range of partners, we strive to create an education model that is more accessible, more human-centred, and more supportive of personal growth.

Kiron is at the forefront of innovation and research in education and migration solutions. Its network of educational, entrepreneurial, and research initiatives is aimed at targeting the broader issues of migration and developing pedagogy in the digital age.

As of September 2016, Kiron had over 4000 applicants to its program and over 1500 students have enrolled on the platform.

Future Developments

Kiron is working tirelessly to create working partnerships with higher education institutions, non-governmental organizations and private donors. Kiron offers different paths to partnership with academic institutions. Overall, the possible partnership avenues with Kiron boil down to the following three main aspects: 1) Development and recognition of our study program, 2) Curriculum development (encompassing Direct Academics program and MOOC development), and  3) Additional ways to collaborate, which includes development and implementation of study hubs, research, and partaking in ‘Competence Pool’.

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