Coursera for Refugees: Here NOW

courseraCoursera and the Department of State have partnered to offer Coursera for Refugees as part of a larger White House private sector engagement initiative.

Read more in a previous Higher post or in a recent article in U.S. News if you aren’t already excited about the opportunity this presents for refugees.

Screen Shot 2016-08-02 at 5.10.21 PMHere is a link to the landing page for Coursera for Refugees.

At a glance – and in the screen shot from the portal on the right – you will see how to sign up and the benefits of doing so. There is a separate link to sign up for the Global Translator Community for volunteer interpreters to help translate Coursera courses into refugee languages.

Where to Start?

Higher strongly recommends that you first open the application, which includes additional information you’ll need in order to consider how your agency will proceed.  Here are three important points we learned by reviewing the application.

1. There are minimum client requirements for eligibility.  Organizations with fewer than 50 refugees with middle- to high-skills and the ability to complete courses in English will not be eligible for financial aid for organizations.  It might make sense to explore with other agencies in your community or at the national resettlement agency level.  You could also consider promoting individual financial aid for qualified refugees instead.

2. Technology access is required.  Internet connectivity and IT resources are required to participate and to afford meaningful access. That doesn’t mean that you have to have a computer lab to participate.  You might partner with a library, Goodwill computer lab or other community resource.  Refugees might have their own technology and connectivity, too.  Coursera courses are mobile optimized.

3. After 12 months, there may be costs to continue.  There is a modest reporting commitment and the financial aid expires after 12  months.  This means it’s important to develop a plan before you apply, so you make the best use of the 12 month access period.

Get in touch at if you are already making plans or have an organizational financial aid package already. We really want to hear how this looks on the ground.

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  1. Thanks for sharing this excellent piece, Lorel. I just learned about another online learning opportunity that might be of interest to refugees, called KIRON. Kiron lists 18 partner universities and has staff based in Germany, Turkey and Jordan. Courses are offered in English (free of charge) in study tracks that include business, engineering, computer science and social science. I am enclosing a description and resource link.

    Kiron At a Glance

    Less than 1% of refugees globally have access to higher education.

    At Kiron, we believe that everybody has the right to fulfill their potential and improve their life prospects via education. And we know that the obstacles refugees face in accessing education can be overcome.

    Our vision is to provide millions of refugees worldwide with the opportunity to graduate with an accredited university degree, free of charge. No more time, potential, or lives wasted.

    Kiron uses an innovative combination of online and offline learning to provide accessible, sustainable, and cost-effective education. To date, we have over 1,000 students, 18 partner universities, and 4 degree programmes. That’s over 1,000 lives changed already.

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