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The Refugee Youth Network aims to allow displaced youth to get higher education by getting scholarships from local universities

Photo of Arash
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What problem does your innovation solve?

We are looking to address the issue of refugee youths not having the opportunity for higher education in Malaysia due to the nature of their position. They are unable to enrol into colleges/universities due to the high cost of living, tuition fees, accommodation, etc. The RYN aims to work with local universities to offer scholarship opportunities for student who meet the criteria.

Explain your innovation.

Malaysia hosts more than 158,000 refugees and asylum seekers; from there, more than 140,000 of them are from Myanmar while the rest from other countries. Since Malaysia is not a State Party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, most, if not all refugees in Malaysia are considered illegal immigrants and have no rights to healthcare, education and employment. That means that most of them have no means to take care of their families and most of the youth do not have opportunities for education. The Refugee Youth Network was established in 2016 to address this issue. Through a youth led consultation in Kuala Lumpur in September of 2016, more than 60 people from the refugee and asylum seekers background came together to talk about the hardships they faced being an illegal immigrant in Malaysia. RYN is working with various other NGOs to approach local universities and/or colleges to offer scholarship opportunities for youths who are seeking to receive higher education. So far, we have been able to get HELP College of Art and Technology to be a part of the process to offering a scholarship for any of their courses offered. While we are starting small with 3 students eligible for the scholarship for the first intake, we are looking to increase that number to 20 by 2018.

Who benefits?

The scholarship is open to all youths from refugee / asylum seeker background regardless of gender, belief, religion, etc. The application should have at least show the interest in wanting to continue their education and should they receive the scholarship, maintain an average GPA throughout the course. While we have our first college/university interested to partner with us, we have also been in contact with various other universities to try to get them on board the plans as well. So far, HELP College of Art and Technology has agreed to partner with us to allow at least 3 students in the beginning but we are looking to enrol more than 20 by 2018.

How is your innovation unique?

This would probably be the first of its kind youth led initiative that will allow the offering of a scholarship for higher education partnering with universities to offer scholarships for any of their courses.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

While there are many applications who are willing to be part of the scholarship scheme, there have been some problems when it comes to proving their certificates. As most of these refugees have fled their home country, they do not have the proper documents for the enrolment purposes. Also, while the scholarship remains tempting for the students, they are still held back by the costs incurred for accommodations and miscellaneous items such as their travel costs to uni, meals, etc. Since they are unable to work due to studying.

Tell us more about you.

My name is Arash Bordbar and I am a refugee from Iran who ha been resettled in Australia since May of 2015. I am currently working with a few NGOs in Malaysia and Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) from Australia for RYN and they are helping us in the coordination with the universities.

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Armed conflict
  • Prolonged displacement

Where will your innovation be implemented?

It will be implemented in Malaysia

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

During my time in Malaysia, I have volunteered/worked with UNHCR Malaysia, local NGOs such as Tenagaita, Suka Sentral, Health Equities Institute, to name a few

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for less than a year.

Innovation Maturity

  • Early Stage Innovation: I am exploring my innovation, refining, researching, and gathering inspiration.

Organization Status

  • We don't intend to register / don't need to in order to implement our innovation successfully.

Organization Location

While I am based in Australia. The RYN Team are based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Yong Chong

Hi Arash this is Yong Yee, also from Malaysia. Would really love to talk to you on refugees youth network, if that's possible? Our team is looking into assisting the same community so that they can learn other skills besides accessibility to education. You can reach me at Thanks! :)

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