Online university offers refugees chance to study for free

Thu Oct 1, 2015 8:05am EDT
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By Astrid Zweynert

PHNOM PENH (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Christina Al Bdewi's plan to become a doctor shuddered to a halt in May when she fled fighting between Islamist rebels and the Syrian army in her home town Damascus, the Syrian capital.

She had just finished her first term studying medicine, but now wonders whether she will ever realize her dream as she waits for her refugee application to be processed in the small German town where she settled with her mother.

"It's very hard, it's like starting from the beginning again," the 19-year-old told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in broken English in a telephone interview.

"I don't speak German and I can't go to school to learn it because I'm waiting for my paperwork to be processed."

For students like her a new online university, due to launch this month, could come to the rescue - it promises to grant refugees internationally recognized degrees without fees and the need to provide all the required documentation.

Kiron University, named after the centaur Chiron, known in Greek mythology for nurturing others in times of need, was founded last year by a group of students in Berlin.

Germany is expecting a record 800,000 refugees and asylum seekers to arrive this year and finding them jobs is seen as key for their successful integration.

But it can take years for asylum seekers to be recognized by the state and often they lack proof of prior education as documents may have been lost when they fled, or may not be recognized in Germany.   Continued...