Student Emergency Initiatives (SEI)

Student Emergency Initiatives

Education in emergencies is one of the most underfunded sectors in humanitarian aid with higher education often considered a luxury. Through our Student Emergency Initiatives, IIE provides students impacted by natural disasters and social, economic or political conflict with an opportunity to start or carry on their higher education to foster economic development, improve public health, and build safer communities around the world.

IIE welcomes additional contributions for our Student Emergency Initiatives.

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Current Efforts

IIE Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (PEER)

In response to the world's global education emergencies, IIE, supported by the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education, developed the Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (PEER), an online clearinghouse enabling the displaced and refugee students to connect with educational opportunities so they may continue formal and informal higher education. PEER also includes student stories from a variety of Student Emergency Initiative programs.

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IIE Emergency Student Fund

IIE's Emergency Student Fund (ESF) provides grants to international college students in the U.S. when natural disasters, war, or other crises threaten their education. Many face financial pressure to return home or drop out because their family circumstances have changed dramatically. IIE helps these students cover essential needs, including basic living expenses. When an ESF effort is open, institutions in the United States may nominate international students for funding. Since 2010, IIE has awarded over 2,000 ESF grants, providing over $5 million in critical support to students from around the world.

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IIE Refugee EdTech Program

IIE's Refugee EdTech Program is designed to help displaced and refugee students pursue advanced education online, from anywhere in the world, without the need to travel to a university campus. Scholarship recipients pursue a MicroMasters® certificate, offered through edX, the online education platform build by Harvard and MIT. In addition, IIE partners with University of the People, supporting refugees and displaced persons completing their online master's degrees.

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IIE Odyssey Scholarship

In 2021, IIE launched and funded The Odyssey Scholarship - a comprehensive scholarship package for student refugees and displaced individuals. Working directly with our refugee-serving partner organizations - who identify, vet and nominate potential scholarship recipients - IIE is able to quickly pair qualified students who have recently fled their homeland with the funding, care and support they need to flourish.

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Past Efforts

IIE Syria Consortium for Higher Education in Crisis

In 2012, the Institute of International Education (IIE), in collaboration with Jusoor and the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), announced a commitment to action at the annual meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative that included providing emergency grants to students whose education had been interrupted by the crisis, and to scholars whose lives were threatened in Syria. With funding from partners including the U.S Department of State, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and many colleges and universities, the IIE Syria Consortium provided more than $4.5 million to over 500 students.

In 2016, IIE expanded its work with refugee students globally through IIE's Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (IIE PEER). IIE PEER initially focused on the educational needs of Syrian students at the university level, but quickly expanded, and is now a global resource for all refugee and displaced students, connecting them to scholarships, language classes and online learning.

IIE Scholarship for Syrian Students

From 2016-2021, IIE funded 29 Syrian students pursuing degrees in the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Finland, and Turkey with full scholarships. IIE also awarded almost 200 top-up grants to Syrian students studying at Syria Consortium Institutions to help them cover academic expenses.

Julia Stasch-IIE Scholarship for Refugees

From 2019-2021 IIE funded 39 refugee and asylee students who were pursuing an associate's degree at one of the City Colleges of Chicago or a Community College in Chicagoland.

IIE PEER Travel Grant for Displaced Students

In 2018, IIE awarded 25 Syrian students with travel grants of $2,000. Supported by the Open Society Foundation, grants helped students cover expenses such as the costs of visas, airfare, and other expenses incurred related to their travel to their host university. Students supported by this grant studied at the Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD level in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Russia, Lithuania, France, Italy, Canada, Mexico, and Switzerland.


For any inquires, please contact sei@iie.org.