Jesuits’ Scholarship to Enable Vulnerable Refugees in Kenya Access University Education

A scholarship opportunity by the international refugee entity of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), aims at providing vulnerable refugees living in Kenya access to university education, the leadership of the agency has said.

“JRS scholarship is about providing access to university education to vulnerable refugees who have a desire for university education but have been denied this opportunity due to a number of factors including their socio-economic status,” the leadership of the agency says in a report shared with ACI Africa Thursday, November 19.

Through the scholarship, which is being implemented in partnership with U.S-based Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) along with the Global Education Movement (GEM), JRS leadership hopes to “enable refugees to attain protection, opportunity and participation with this program,” they add in the report, which the scholarship Program Coordinator, Steve Oten and JRS Communications Officer, Paula  Aguirregabiria compiled.

The JRS/SNHU degree program that is open to people of all ages and faiths is competency-based, thereby allowing the students to study by doing projects that translate to their university credits, the JRS officials note in the one-page report.

They explain, “After their Associate of Arts Degree, the students are linked with local and international organizations for physical and/or virtual three months internship before they can start on their Bachelor’s Degree.”


The Associate of Arts Degree is the equivalent of a Diploma in Kenya.

Besides the four-year degree program, which the JRS officials say is online and self-paced, the leadership of the refugee agency also facilitates the offering of career mentorship and other linkages upon graduation, aimed at improving the employability of the beneficiaries, the officials of the Rome-based refugee agency say.

“The students are provided with laptops and modems for Internet access,” Ms. Paula and Mr. Oten say in the report.

The JRS officials add, “A conducive learning environment is also provided at JRS Office where the students can come for their personal studies and group work projects. The learning center has high speed Internet and other amenities to support the students' learning.”

In the current intake whose application deadline is Friday, November 20, JRS Kenya is expected to offer the scholarship to a total of 21 students: 11 female and 10 males.

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The beneficiaries of the scholarship will be expected to undertake College for America (CfA) accredited competency-based degree programs in Communication, and Business Management, a poster by JRS Kenya announcing the intake indicates.

To be eligible for the JRS/SNHU scholarship, an applicant must be a refugee with a UNHCR mandate or a Kenyan citizen with National Identification Card and be available in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi to complete the degree program, JRS leadership adds in the poster seen by ACI Africa.

Eligible applicants need to have proof of secondary school completion from Kenya or from their country of origin, and not enrolled in any degree program at the time of application, the poster further indicates.

Members of the JRS/SNHU program team are expected to be in touch with the shortlisted applicants through a review process that should culminate in a final list of the scholarship beneficiaries, officials of the 40-year-old refugee agency whose priority areas are reconciliation, education, livelihoods and advocacy add.

The scholarship was launched in November 2019 with 34 beneficiaries, five of whom have completed their Associate of Arts degrees and are currently undertaking their internships as they await enrollment into the BA program, the officials say in the November 19 report.


According to the leadership of the refugee agency, which marked 40 years of accompanying refugees and other forcibly displaced persons November 14, JRS is one of the eight sites where the program is being implemented in Africa and the Middle East.

Founded on 14 November 1980 by Jesuit Fr. Andrew Arrupe, the mission of JRS is “to accompany, serve, and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, that they may heal, learn, and determine their own future.”