Project Details

Image courtesy of Tom Albinson


World-class education for refugees online

Project URL:
Project Twitter: @KironEducation

Organisation URL:

  • Education
  • Social Exclusion
  • Internet

21-year-old Kashif Kazmi dreamed of becoming a NASA engineer, but his hopes were dashed when he was forced to leave his small village near the Afghan border. Arriving in Germany as a refugee, it was near impossible for Kashif to enrol in higher education – he didn’t have the passport, high school certificate or bank account needed, let alone enough time to gain an adequate command of academic German.

Globally, less than 1% of university-aged refugees of all nationalities are in tertiary education according to the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR, although, over 25% of Syrians aged 18–24 were enrolled in tertiary education before 2011. 

For German psychology student Markus Kressler, the problem became all too real after a chance encounter with a Gambian refugee called Capoko. Alone and shy, all Capoko wanted to do was study, but he was deported instead. Stunned by his new friend’s lack of opportunities, Kressler developed an ambitious project to bring high-quality, internationally accredited tertiary education to refugees.

Called Kiron after the healing centaur Chiron in Greek mythology, Kressler’s project is an online university that provides free courses in mathematics, sciences, business, social sciences and architecture for two years, which gives students enough time to gather the necessary documents, improve their English or German and demonstrate academic ability. They then transfer to a partner university in the third year, from which they graduate.

Kiron has enrolled over 1,200 students like Kashif so far, and currently has 18 university partners, which include Harvard and Stanford. Kressler is now talking to 120 more around the world.

Having raised 300,000 euros from Google to fund the c. 3,000 euro operating cost per student, the team are accepting more donations to expand their programmes. Find out more at

Image courtesy of Tom Albinson

Last updated: 02nd of August, 2016

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