More Than 45 U.S. Colleges And Universities Have Opened Their Doors To 100 Afghan Refugee Students To Date; Half of the First Cohort are Women
When the government in Kabul, Afghanistan, fell in August 2021, millions of Afghan people—including thousands of university students—found their lives suddenly in limbo. A year later, the Qatar Scholarship for Afghans Project (QSAP) was launched, providing full scholarships for Afghan refugee students to continue their education at U.S. colleges and universities. The largest single-country scholarship for displaced students in higher education, QSAP is made possible by the Afghan Future Fund (AFF), Education Above All Foundation (EAA), Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD), Yalda Hakim Foundation (YHF), and Schmidt Futures.
To show our gratitude to our QSAP partners and host institutions, IIE hosted a breakfast reception during the 75th NAFSA conference in Washington, D.C. Honored guests reflected on a successful first year and discussed strategies to continue QSAP’s momentum. The speakers included: Jawaher Badi Al-Naemi, director of the Qatar Scholarship at QFFD; Arezo Kohistany, director at Schmidt Futures and a board member of the AFF; The Honorable Tom Malinowski, former U.S. representative from New Jersey; and Jennifer Dwyer, senior technical manager at EAA.
Said Al-Naemi: “Protection and support of access to higher education is more than an avenue for new knowledge and experiences—it is an opportunity for a second chance for individuals and their families.” Former Congressman Malinowski, an ardent supporter of the program, issued this call to action: “We urge more institutions to join this initiative and help support Afghan students. If every institution accepted just one student, we could create a significant impact.”
To date, more than forty-five U.S. colleges and universities have opened their doors to a total of 100 QSAP students, welcoming them into their communities, providing them with a world-class education, and making generous financial contributions to the program. Notably, women comprise 50% of the first student cohort. QSAP partners have pledged to support 250 students at prestigious U.S. universities in twenty-two states: the remainder of students are expected to arrive in the fall 2023 semester.
QSAP would simply not be possible without the generosity of our hosts, whether they are hosting dozens of students or one student. Among others, Bard College in New York has hosted forty students. The state-led Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Project created opportunities for students at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and Western Kentucky University. Other hosts include Rutgers University, Cornell University, the University of Texas, Lenoir-Rhyne University, St. Cloud State, and many others.
The world’s refugee crisis is not subsiding, nor are the hardships facing the Afghan people. We are calling on more colleges and universities to find creative and sustainable ways to make space for and support these inspirational young people. They will shape the future of their nations and our global community.
We are encouraging more institutions and individuals to join us in advancing the QSAP mission. If the level of enthusiasm and commitment among our reception guests is any indication of what we can accomplish together, there is no doubt that we and our partners can create educational opportunities for even more refugee and displaced students.
IIE welcomes additional universities to participate in providing educational access to displaced Afghan students. Universities who may be interested in hosting students can contact QSAP@iie.org.
IIE administers The Qatar Scholarships for Afghans Project (QSAP), a scholarship program supporting 250 Afghan refugee students, half of them women, to study at universities and colleges in the United States. Learn more at qasp.info.
Jonah Kokodyniak is the senior vice president of IIE program development and partner services. He leads the development and management of partnerships with foundations, corporations, and government agencies. In addition, he oversees IIE’s Research, Evaluation and Learning practice; supervises its offices in China, India, Thailand and Mexico; and serves on the board of its affiliate in Indonesia.