On 5 April 2018, CELL's Exective Director Atif Rizvi and Principal Ayla Bonfiglio participated in the International Conference on Refugee Higher Education organized by the Global Platform for Syrian Studies (GP4SYS) and the Portuguese Government and hosted by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in Lisbon.
At the conference, Ayla Bonfiglio presented on a panel entitled, "Challenges, Best Practices and Lessons Learned on Integrating Refugees into Higher Education," drawing upon her research on refugee higher education in countries of first asylum in Sub-Saharan Africa. As part of her intervention, she discussed higher education's implications for complementary or alternative protection, expanding vocational tertiary education programs, and improving qualifications recognition.
The conference brought together more than 300 participants, including high-level government representatives and experts. In addition to gathering the state-of-the-art on refugee higher education, GP4SYS presented their Rapid Response Mechanism (RRM), which aims to provide support as well as an architecture for the delivery of refugee higher education.
The Global Platform for Syrian Students is a non-profit multi-stakeholders organisation, founded in November 2013, by Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal, with the support of a core group of institutional partners, namely the Council of Europe, the League of Arab States, the International Organization of Migrations (IOM) and the Institute of International Education (IIE).