What is unique about third country scholarships?
A third country scholarship will require you to travel to a third country – other than your country of origin or your current country of asylum – to complete your chosen study programme. Most third country scholarship programmes offer a very limited number of places, involve a rigorous selection process, may require you to be separated from your family for a prolonged period of time, or to learn another language. Some third country scholarships offer the chance to remain in the third country to work or live after you have completed your studies.
There are also a number of higher education scholarships for refugees in their country of asylum. These do not require international travel, may cost less than third country programmes and will allow you to remain close to your family or other people who may be with you in the host country. You can look here for some available in-country scholarship opportunities.
What legal matters should I keep in mind when considering a third country scholarship?
Some institutions will inform you of visa requirements needed to enter and reside in the country of study. You will likely need to have a valid passport in order to travel. If you do not have a passport, please consult with UNHCR with respect to travel arrangements, including documentation. Often it is your responsibility to renew your visa or permit in order to maintain your lawful residency status in the country. Make sure you know the period of validity of your visa, and be aware of any restrictions that may be in place – for example, the right to work – once you are in the country of study.
Is the country of study a place where I would be able to live for a period of time?
Most countries in the Middle East region and Turkey will not allow you to return once you have departed, even if you left with the intention to study abroad for several years. With that in mind, your family, community, friends and UNHCR counselors can help you decide whether you are financially and emotionally prepared to live in another country, perhaps far away from your family and support network, for the length of time needed to complete your studies and beyond.
Do as much background research as possible on the country of study before making a final decision.
Consider any special requirements you may have and do not hesitate to raise concerns or questions with UNHCR counselors.
What length of time does the scholarship cover?
In most circumstances, a short period of study may not enable you to gain the level of qualification you would need in order to increase your academic and professional opportunities. Be sure that the qualification you will gain meets your expectations in terms of contributing to your educational and employment goals, and that the scholarship gives you a reasonable amount of time to complete your qualification. Scholarship programmes listed on this site allow you to obtain a widely recognized qualification from a reputable institution.
Does the scholarship programme or third country allow your family members to accompany you?
Some countries or scholarship programmes allow refugee students to bring their close family members with them to the country of study. Be sure to explore what visa status family members may apply for, whether they can work and access social benefits, how the cost of living and accommodation will be covered and related issues.
As a refugee, what level of support does the scholarship opportunity provide me with?
Some refugees may be affected by their experiences or may have special needs. In these cases, students may need more intensive and longer-term support to benefit in a meaningful way from their scholarship. Make sure the opportunity you are considering can meet your individual needs, and that you will have access to the support you require. You should also ensure that you will have access to orientation programmes at the start of your scholarship, as well as language courses and extra tutoring or coaching, if needed.
Will a third country scholarship have an economic or other impact on your family remaining in the host country?
When undertaking a third country scholarship it is important to be realistic about the impact your absence could have on your family. Prolonged separation can be difficult for you as well as for those who remain in the host country or elsewhere. Be sure to clarify expectations about whether they expect you to send money? How often you plan to communicate and by what means? Will they expect you to return to visit?
What opportunities may be available to me once I finish my course of study?
It is important for you to understand what options you may have following the completion of your study to ensure that you do not find yourself in a situation where your residency status expires in the country of study, or you face difficulty traveling abroad if your passport expires or cannot be renewed, or become unable to support yourself. Some countries allow graduating foreign students to obtain a work visa following their study permitting longer term residency. If this option is available to you, it would allow you to work legally. Job placements, internships or other opportunities may also be available once you have finished your studies. Be sure to clarify the specific rules that are applicable in the country in which you wish to study. Be sure you understand the asylum procedures in the country of study in case you are unable to return to your home country following your course of study and need to seek further international protection.