Creating pathways to higher education for Syrian refugees - Partnership for Digital Learning and Increased Access

Higher education in humanitarian contexts provides young people with vital continuity in educational development, enhancing their ability to make strategic choices about their futures. Since 2016 over 5.6 million people have fled Syria seeking safety in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and beyond. Many of these refugees, alongside people in host communities, live below the poverty line and face major challenges in accessing higher education.

PADILEIA helped refugees and displaced young people in Jordan and Lebanon to access higher education through a unique online and blended learning initiative.

The approach

Participating students were able to access three personalised and flexible learning offers:

  • Bespoke short courses
  • Contextualised foundation programmes for university preparation
  • Study programmes with university credit-bearing courses

These offers were complemented by support services:

  • Online mentoring to improve English language skills and support scholarship applications
  • Peer-to-peer support network linking PADILEIA students with UK university students
  • LiveChat for academic and technical support
  • Guidance for transfer into formal higher education
  • Psychosocial support


  • 8 bespoke short courses designed and delivered to PADILEIA students
  • More than 12,500 students in Lebanon and Jordan studied on PADILEIA’s study programmes and bespoke short courses online and in the study hubs
  • 444 students graduated from the foundation programmes
  • 102 students accepted into university to study over 20 different subjects including English language, law, civil engineering, and nursing
  • 58% of learners who completed PADILEIA courses were female
  • 3,791 hours volunteered to provide tailored support to 365 PADILEIA students

The partners

The PADILEIA partnership was led by King's College London (UK), working with the American University of Beirut (Lebanon), Al al-Bayt University (Jordan), Kiron Open Higher Education gGmbH (Germany) and FutureLearn (UK).

Find out more

See also