Main Results Achieved: 

  • More than 650 annual emergency scholarships awarded
  • 72 students graduated from Master´s Degree Programs
  • 4 students have completed their PhD programs
  • 3 students ranked top in Portugal having been awarded excellence prizes
  • Up to 420 opportunities provided to students to participate in summer activities and extraacademic programs 
  • New York Declaration adopted by all UN member States on 19 September 2016 – all committed to promote higher education opportunities in emergencies (paragraph 82)
  • Education in Emergencies and Protacted Crisis, EU Council Conclusions (2018)
  • Joint Pledge between the Portuguese Governement and the GP4SYS – Global Refugee Forum 2019
  • Rapid Response Mechanism for Higher Education in Emergencies implementation in progress
  • 24 refugees from different conflict-affected societies were awarded scholarships
  • In 2019, 3 awards bestowed on GP4SYS work and 1 vote of apraise
  • YES! FUND developed and ready for a pilot


Main Accomplishments and Figures 2019


Check out the main accomplishments and figures 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016

In the 2019, the Global Platform supported 171 students with scholarships and grants. 

Scholarships Programme



  • The GP4SYS is fully operational year and manages to maintain a number of scholarships up to around 171 students. Scaling up our program into a more relevant one and achieving widespread impact should be a priority for 2020-2021. 
  • More students completed their degrees under the GP4SYS’ scholarship program and joined the new group of GP4SYS´Alumni which reached 44 members. In 2019, 10 alumni got jobs.
  • In 2019, 23 Syrian students graduated: 15 got their Master’s degrees or MBA and 4 their Bachelor’s degrees, 4 Syrian students got their PhD.
  • In 2019, 6 new HEIs based in Spain joined the Academic Consortium and 3 new students based in Spain were awarded scholarships.
  • The fact that more students would graduate in the short term made the GP4SYS plan a new chapter in its activities to assist these former students to enter the market job and make a smooth transition. This set of activities compised namely: supporting in legal and administrativge procedures to entitle students to become job-seekers in Portugal; follow-up and support in search for jobs; social-psycological support for students at a critical juncture of their lives; providing opportunities to develop their linguistic skills.  
  • In 2019, the GP4SYS offered more opportunites to students strengthen their academic / scientific experience and background and enhance soft skills and resilience. One student participated in an ERASMUS exchange programme in Poland;
  • Thanks to the partnership established with Camões, Instituto da Cooperação  e da Língua, IP (Portuguese Cooperation Agency), CIAL (Language School) and the Social Services of Nova University of Lisbon, more opportunities for students to learn and improve their proficiency in the Portuguese language are offered each academic year and during summer. In 2019, 23 students attended Portuguese language courses during the academic year and in the summer.
  • Increased efforts to enlarge the network of partners and donors marked a true turning point in terms of raising funds. New, very important partnerships were forged that brought stability for the GP4SYS in the last years. The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa and Santander Bank are among the new partners. Furthermore, some very important partnerships were renewed, notably with the League of Arab States and the Babtain Foundation.
  • 3 awards bestowed on GP4SYS work and 1 vote of apraise in 2019
  • 1 student ranked top and has been awarded an excellence prize
  • 100 scholarships were pledged by BPI/La Caixa Foundation thanks to an agreement signed in May 2018. . 
  • The participation in several international forums and events allowed the GP4SYS to consolidate the international recognition of its work, especially with regard to advocacy for higher education in emergencies and to making the case for additional efforts to boost higher education opportunities for refugees and students in forced mobility together with other international stakeholders.
  • Relevant progress was also made in implementing a small pilot experience of the Rapid Response Mechanism for Higher Education in Emergencies (RRM) in Protugal. The cooperation agreement signed in July 2017 between GP4SYS and the Portuguese High Commission for Migrants, made it possible to award 24 scholarships to refugees of various nationalities in Portugal. With this new step, Portugal is at the forefront on the implementation of the commitment made at the WHS held in May 2016 aimed at boosting higher education opportunities for refugees and forced migrants through setting up a RRM. 
  • The communication strategy is being strengthened notably through the website ( and the participation in several social media platforms. 



On the basis of our short experience, there are some lessons learned and best practices that can be drawn, such as:

Resettlement of students > be they registered refugees or not – requires close contacts with receiving countries in order to ensure that they are granted full protection and are entitled to health care, legal access and stay, etc. Regarding Syrian students hosted by Portugal, the GP4SYS in close consultation with the Portuguese authorities has dealt with all these issues and offers permanent assistance to students in order to avoid them getting lost in bureaucracies and administrative hurdles.

Admission of Students into Universities and Academic validation of their applications > depending on the higher education regulations of each receiving country, specific negotiations with central authorities and with universities are necessary in order to ensure the admission or transfer of these students who may not be able to produce legal or certified copies of their certificates and transcripts of marks and when there are strict internal procedures for regular admissions. This mediation task was performed by the GP4SYS on behalf of the students before their arrival in Portugal. However the process of validation of previous qualifications often took some time depending on each university/polytechnic but was never a stumbling block. 

Integration of Students > providing proximity support and mentoring to students is a key point for the success of this emergency academic assistance. These are not students coming from regular settings. They need extra support and attention. For that reason, efforts of academic mentoring made by host universities, together with efforts directed towards facilitating the psychological well-being of the students and their integration into ordinary local life, are both critical to ensure full success of the program. Cultural diversity issues have also to be taken into consideration by guests and hosts. 

Risks > The main risk of this Program is indeed related to the impact on students of the situation in Syria and the fact that they left their families behind. From time to time they feel guilty and anxiety seems to take its toll. Another important risk is related to the efforts that are necessary to adapt to a new country, a new society, a new culture and a new lifestyle, including gastronomy. A third important risk is the language issue, although practical arrangements were found for all in a very satisfactory way. 



Summer Programmes

The Academic Summer break is too long for those who are not able to go on vacation. Remaining alone in an empty campus in particular for people who are prone to feeling guilty and anxious about their families and their future is a situation to be avoided.

Therefore the GP4SYS investes a lot to be able to propose annually a summer program for its students that would combine a mix of cultural and leisure activities as well as internships.

In 2017, the GP4SYS priority was to continue to enlarge the opportunities provided to students to strengthen their technical training through the particopation in workshops, seminars and international meetings addressing topics related to their field of studies. For example, 8 architecture students attended the Porto Academy in July 2017 and 4 PhD architecture students attended W.A.V.E 2017 Workshop on the Syria Rebuilding process organised by the Università luav di Venezia. moreover, 20 students attended in 2017 the Summer School "Young refugees as actors for social inclusion and intercultural dialogue" co-organised by the Council of Europe and the GP4SYS. Some other students improved their linguistic skills in Portugues language by attending summer intensive courses. 

In 2018, the GP4SYS co-organised with the University of Minho (Portugal) and the IUAV University (Italy) the "Summer School Rebuilding Syria from Within” between 8 and 18 July. The 2018 Summer School owes a lot to previous talks held in Beirut between 2017 and 2018 with the UN Economic and Social Commission-National Agenda For Syria (ESCAWNAFS) and to the strong support received by its team. 80 Syrian students participated in the Summer School. As in all activities developed by the GP4SYS, this Summer School was driven by the goal of achieving close cooperation with international organizations and partners in order to develop synergies, enhance collaborative coordinated actions and create multiplier effects.

In 2019, some students participated in international and non-formal training sessions in the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals. Moreover, 2 students attended the Summer School organized by the Gulbenkian Institute of Sci-ence from 29 July to 30 August 2019 in Oeiras (Portugal) and 2 MA students in public health attended the 3rd Summer School on Refugee and Migrant Health on the theme: “From emergency response to long-term inclusion policies”, which took place from 15 to 19 July 2019 in Çeşme, (Turkey).


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Wider Advocacy for Higher Education in Emergencies

“Education not only saves lives in emergencies, but it also sustains life by giving a sense of hope for the future”


Based on best practices and lessons learned with recent crises, namely with Iraq and Syria, there are a key number of questions that have to be addressed if we want to bridge the existing gap such as: how to integrate higher education opportunities into humanitarian responses? How to best coordinate interventions of actors on the ground? How to make financial resources available on time? How to organize and coordinate efforts for the effective implementation of quality programs of higher education during the emergency response?


With this purpose the Global Platform for Syrian Students has been making efforts, together with other partners, to put high on the international agenda the wide topical issue of Higher Education in Emergencies. Read the article published at the Huffington Post: What Will Become of Syria's Students and Scholars?By Allan E. Goodman (President and Chief Executive Officer, Institute of International Education) and Jorge Sampaio (President of the Portuguese Republic from 1996 to 2006; Chairman of the Global Platform for Syrian Students).


The year of 2015 marked good progress in terms of advocacy made by the GP4SYS at the international stage to raise awareness about the unique role higher education plays in conflict situations and the need for the international community to deliver more higher education opportunities for refugees, IDPs and young people facing crisis situations. 


Following up on a first meeting convened in Brussels in December 2014, over 2015 the GP4SYS participated in a number of international meetings on the topic of higher education in emergencies, developed contacts at various levels to promote this cause, notably at political level through the leadership of President Sampaio, chairman of the GP4SYS, and launched a number of studies gathering information and data on higher education in emergencies.  


Read more


Annual Reports







2020 (To be published very soon, keep posted!)



ü  The GP4SYS entered its second full operational year and managed to increase the number of scholarships up to around 150 students (50% growth rate). Although the figures remained modest, they showed a fairly steady consolidation of the project. Scaling up into a more relevant dimension and achieving widespread impact should be a priority for 2016.

ü  First students completed their degrees under the GP4SYS’ scholarship program. This fact and the prospect that more students would graduate in the short term made the GP4SYS plan a new chapter in its activities to assist these former students to enter the market job and make a smooth transition.

ü  More academic opportunities were offered to students over the academic year thanks to extra support provided to them, such as participating in an Erasmus program during a term, attending seminars and workshops in other countries (Barcelona and Istanbul) or participating in study trips (Spain and France).

ü  More opportunities to learn and improve the Portuguese language were available over the Summer, thanks to a grant received from Camões, Instituto da Cooperação e da Língua, IP, and special arrangements both with Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Serviços Sociais that provided accommodation for more than 30 Syrian students gathered in Lisboa and with CIAL, a Portuguese Language Center.

ü  Several fund-raising events took place – the last dinner of the “gastronomic quartet” initiative launched in 2014 took place in Lisbon (21 March, Lisbon); a charity gala concert was organized by the Choir of former students of Coimbra university that also included other artists (31 October); a fund-raising lunch was convened by the American Club of Lisbon (25 November). The art auction and the mega musical performance initially planned for 2015 shifted to the following year.

ü  Increased efforts to enlarge the network of partners and donors paid off in 2015 which marked a true turning point in terms of raising funds. New, very important partnerships were forged that brought stability for the GP4SYS over 2015. The Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa and Santander Bank are among the new partners. Furthermore, some very important partnerships were renewed, notably with the League of Arab States and the Babtain Foundation.

ü  Progress regarding the international recognition of the work done by the GP4SYS was very clear throughout 2015. Together with other international partners the GP4SYS spared no efforts to push for more action from the international community to support higher education for refugees and in conflict situations.

ü  Two working missions by two of our funding partners (The League of Arab States and the Council of Europe) took place in 2015. The GP4SYS hosted respectively Ambassador Dr. Badr Eddine El Allali, Deputy Secretary General of the League of Arab States, in June and Mrs. Snežana  Marković, Director General of Democracy of the Council of Europe in December. In both occasions, the delegations met with students and held a number of contacts. 

ü  The launch of a dedicated website ( and the implementation of a communications strategy were instrumental for better knowledge of the GP4SYS activities and for international recognition of the ongoing work

ü  2015 was a year of awards for the Chairman of the GP4SYS, which sometimes also expressed the recognition of the achievements made by the GP4SYS under the leadership of President Sampaio - UN Mandela Prize, the Human Rights Award of the Portuguese Parliament and the “2015 Teresa Rosmaninho Prize”, a human rights and women’s rights award of the Portuguese Women Lawyers’ Association.