Asia Pacific: partnership with Erasmus Mundus kicks off refugee higher level education project

19 November 2011

The AREaS kick-off meeting was held at HUST - Hanoi University of Science and Technology on 25-26 October 2011.

Bangkok, 19 November 2011 – Refugees and asylum seekers in Asia Pacific will have the opportunity to start a third-level education course certified by European universities in 2012, with support from the Academic Relations between Asia and Europe (AREaS) scholarship.

The applications process for the AREaS scholarship, financed by the European Commission through the Erasmus Mundus Action Two –Strand One programme, was officially launched on 1 November at a meeting of consortium partners in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Applicants fall into three categories: those from partner universities, Target One; individuals from priority countries, Target Two; and refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons, members of indigenous populations, persons with physical disabilities and those who live in vulnerable for political or economic reasons, Target Three.

JRS joined AREaS partnership as an associate member to assist in promoting and recruiting students from the Target Three category.

“AREaS seeks to ensure that vulnerable populations under the Target Three category are well-served”, said Bianca Buttiglione, Project Coordinator at Politecnico di Torino, the coordinating institution of a consortium of 24 partner universities and institutions from Europe and Asia.

Students from the partner universities (Target One) and priority countries (Target Two) are also eligible to apply. Target Two category includes nationals from Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam. Refugees and asylum seekers from other nationalities are also eligible to apply through other Erasmus Mundus projects catering for disadvantaged groups, including refugees, residing in other countries.

JRS and higher education in Asia Pacific

In 2009, JRS Assistant Regional Director, Louie Bacomo, then project coordinator of a consortium partner in a similar Erasmus Mundus project, was involved in referring refugees and asylum seekers interested in applying for scholarships. On that occasion, three vulnerable persons from Burma and one Thai were accepted to study in Europe that year.

JRS participation in this new initiative will also be coordinated by Mr Bacomo with support from JRS Asia Pacific Regional Programme Assistant, Youjin Jung.

“I am excited opportunities like this are available to people we serve. Our Afghan friends have expressed interest in the programme and are eager to start studying”, said JRS Indonesia Programme Officer, Taka Gani, who is now in a position to provide assistance to interested candidates as applications are processed online.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our refugee friends to whom doors are often doors. JRS is committed to this project, we will support the applicants and hope that those who are accepted will work hard and gain greater freedom and the capacity to better their lives”, said JRS Asia Pacific Director, Bernard Arputhasamy SJ.

For more information and instructions on how to apply, click here.

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