On May 24, 2017, Meiji Gakuin University signed an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the nonprofit organization Japan for UNHCR, regarding the UNHCR’s Refugee Higher Education Program, a recommendation program for admission of refugees.
The signing ceremony was held at Meiji Gakuin University, where University President Yasuo Matsubara and Vice-Presidents Atsushi Yoshii and Shinji Nozawa welcomed Japan Representative Dirk Hebecker and Sara Minamikawa from the UNHCR, as well as Executive Director Saburo Takizawa, Secretary-General Takanobu Himori, incoming Secretary-General Mamoru Hoshino, and Kyoko Senda from Japan for UNHCR.
According to the terms of the agreement, beginning in April 2018, Meiji Gakuin University will accept one refugee per year as a student with full exemption from enrollment fees and tuition. The University will also support each refugee student’s academic life by providing them with a monthly stipend.
At the signing ceremony, UNHCR Japan Representative Hebecker said, “Thanks to this program launched in 2006, twenty-two refugees are currently studying at various universities. I am delighted at the addition of Meiji Gakuin University to the program. It will be a powerful source of hope for not just the refugee students, but also their families, and a great influence on the other students as well. I look forward to even deeper ties between our organizations in the future.”
Japan for UNHCR Executive Director Takizawa added, “I am glad to see Meiji Gakuin University take on a new program that exemplifies its educational philosophy of ‘Do for Others.’ When I visited refugee camps in Thailand and Jordan, the young people were filled with worry, unable to find any hope for the future. For people who come to Japan as refugees, this program allowing them to be educated at universities is like a dream come true. The refugees’ stories of survival, struggle, and thirst for learning will broaden the perspectives of the students around them, motivating and inspiring them to learn. The project is also connected to the Internal Internationalization program that Meiji Gakuin University is promoting.”
University President Matsubara likewise expressed his strong determination in looking ahead to the future. “With Meiji Gakuin’s Internal Internationalization project as a catalyst, we began discussing and preparing for admission of refugees last summer. I am thrilled for Meiji Gakuin University to join this program, which truly embodies everything for which we stand. I believe it will have a positive influence on not only the students of Meiji Gakuin University, but also those of Meiji Gakuin’s junior-high school and its two senior high schools. We will step up our preparations so that the program can be fully realized.”
Meiji Gakuin University will make preparations to begin the acceptance of refugee students for the 2018 academic year.
■For further information on the UNHCR Refugee Higher Education Program:
Inquiries: Public Relations Division, General Planning Office