Introducing the IIE Platform for Education in Emergencies Response

IIE is calling on more universities and foundations to offer educational opportunities on the new site.

NEW YORK, March 8, 2017—The Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education have launched an online clearinghouse to connect displaced students with opportunities to continue their education in safety around the world. With support of eight international organizations, the new IIE Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (IIE-PEER) currently offers more than 600 scholarships, language learning and online courses in numerous countries for college and graduate students whose access to education has been cut off by crises in their home countries.

Education in emergencies is one of the most underfunded sectors in humanitarian aid. However, the need for higher education is especially acute in places of conflict, where it is crucial in rebuilding societies and maintaining stability. Higher education is strongly linked to increased opportunity, strengthened economic development, improved public health and safer communities. It offers young people hope and a path towards a sustainable and independent future. Current conflicts, persecution and violence are hitting university-aged youth particularly hard. IIE estimates that as many as 200,000 Syrian students are currently out of university because they have been forced to terminate their studies due to the ongoing crisis. While will initially feature opportunities specifically intended for displaced Syrian students, PEER aims to expand in order to help students displaced by conflict from anywhere in the world to resume their studies online and at locations worldwide. PEER will also add personalized advising services for students.

IIE and the Catalyst Foundation are joined in this effort by eight international partners: the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the British Council, the Global Platform for Syrian Students, Global Citizen, Jusoor, World University Service of Canada (WUSC), the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education and Universities UK, reflecting a growing commitment in the international community to address the higher education needs of displaced populations.

John Sexton, former NYU president and founder of the Catalyst Foundation, said, “If they have school, the displaced students can turn their lives around. We aim to provide them with the education they deserve.” PEER is the first major initiative of the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education. At the celebration of its founding held in September at IIE’s headquarters in New York, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the United Nations special envoy on global education, led a discussion on ways that leaders in education, government and philanthropy can help meet students’ emergency needs.

“Education is a basic human right,” Brown said in a recent commentary piece, Educating Syria’s Rebuilders. “We already know that, on average, refugees spend at least ten years away from their home country. If they are deprived of an education during that time, they will have few employment opportunities in the future. Not providing an education for displaced people has been one of our humanitarian-aid system’s biggest failures.”

Allan Goodman, president and CEO of the not-for-profit Institute of International Education, remarked, “As the crisis multiplies, there is a real prospect of a lost generation. We must not let that happen. IIE’s new partnership with the Catalyst Foundation to build the PEER clearinghouse is a tremendously valuable breakthrough in connecting displaced students with resources anywhere in the world.”

Governments and other donors are asked to join the effort to expand its reach to displaced students in higher education in all world regions. To pledge emergency student support through PEER, please email

About the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education

The Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education works to expand access to high-quality education for children and youth around the world. It provides catalytic funding for educational projects that advance its goal of a world where every single child goes to school and receives a meaningful education. Together with its partners, Catalyst works to support the creation of structures and materials necessary to achieve this goal, and advocate for the increased government and private sector support from around the world, which is urgently required to address the global education crisis.

About the Institute of International Education

The Institute of International Education (IIE) is the leader in providing international education strategies and program services. Our international approach to education—diverse, borderless, impactful—is a proven way for governments and companies to invest in global talent and solidify overseas relationships. We work with policymakers, educators and employers across the globe to prepare students and professionals for the global workforce and equip them to solve the increasingly complex challenges facing our interconnected world. An independent, not-for-profit organization founded in 1919, IIE has a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide and over 1,300 member institutions.

IIE has a long history of providing emergency assistance to students and scholars facing threats and danger throughout the world, including the conflict in Syria since its outset in 2011 through the IIE Emergency Student Fund and the IIE Scholar Rescue Fund. IIE manages the Platform for Education in Emergencies Response (PEER) with major support from the Catalyst Foundation for Universal Education.


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