Prominent Leaders Make Case for New Higher Education Pathway for Refugee Sponsorship in Two New Op-eds


March 1, 2022
Contact: Jose Magaña-Salgado (

Washington, D.C.— Two op-eds from prominent higher education leaders make the case for a new college- and university-based pathway for refugee sponsorship as part of a private sponsorship initiative to be announced by the Biden Administration. 

At Inside Higher Ed, Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Bard College President Leon Botstein write “Supporting Refugee Students’ Higher Ed Potential,” while former Secretary of the Army and President of the University of New Mexico Louis Caldera writes “U.S. Universities Should Be Able to Sponsor Refugee Students” at the Dallas Morning News. All three authors are affiliated with the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration: President Crow is a member of the Presidents’ Alliance steering committee, President Botstein is a member of the Presidents’ Alliance, and Louis Caldera is a co-founder of the organization and a co-chair of its steering committee. 

The urgency and importance of such a pathway is underscored by the unfolding crisis in Ukraine, which has generated advocacy for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Special Student Relief (SSR) as immediate first steps to provide protection and relief. The Presidents’ Alliance continues to advocate support for other displaced student and scholar populations across the world, including Afghans, and looks forward to the implementation of an educational sponsorship program for refugees as an enterprise solution to increasing needs across the globe. Below, find excerpts from both op-eds as well as additional resources and background on the proposed higher education pathway for refugee students and the related RESPONSE Campaign

Read the Inside Higher Ed op-ed from Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Bard College President Leon Botstein in full online, “Supporting Refugee Students’ Higher Ed Potential,” and find excerpts below:

“As we continue to respond to urgent needs of Afghan evacuees, and as we watch the unfolding situation in Ukraine, we must recognize that the challenge is far greater than just one country’s displaced population. Across the globe, forced displacement has approximately doubled in the past decade, increasing the number of university-aged youth who are passionate about continuing their education but lack the opportunity. Fewer than 1 percent of refugees worldwide are resettled each year, and only 5 percent gain access to higher education.

Thankfully, in the past year we have seen important momentum behind the concept of a new college and university sponsorship pathway. The recently launched RESPONSE Campaign: College and University Sponsorship of Refugee Students is a new campaign supporting expanded pathways for refugee students. And an accompanying report, prepared by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration and partners, including both of our institutions, contains recommendations for how the U.S. can develop, implement and sustain such a program.

…we share in the commitment to refugee students’ education and recognize that now is the time—and the new university pathway the vehicle—to meet this global challenge facing higher education.”

Read the Dallas Morning News op-ed from former Secretary of the Army and President of the University of New Mexico Louis Caldera in full online here, “U.S. Universities Should Be Able to Sponsor Refugee Students,” and find excerpts below:

“At a time when forced displacement has caused the global refugee population to skyrocket, the U.N. Refugee Agency estimates that only 5% of the global refugee population accesses higher education. This is eight times less than the overall higher-education access rate around the world.

Many of these students have suffered the upheavals of war, famine and displacement and, in some cases, have lived for years in refugee camps. Yet, despite their obstacles, their drive for education persists.

Unfortunately, U.S. policy options to support these potential students’ educations have been insufficient. Since the creation of the federal refugee resettlement program in 1980, there has not been an easy way for universities to sponsor refugees. However, over the past year, our country has taken important steps toward meeting this global need.

One year ago, an executive order from President Joe Biden detailed policies to revitalize the U.S. refugee program, including a commitment to launch a private refugee sponsorship program. Colleges and universities are ideal partners for such a private sponsorship initiative and have sprung into action.”




The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.