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A man in a denim jacket is standing in front of a crowd of people.A man in a denim jacket is standing in front of a crowd of people.

Students at Risk

Students at Risk is a protection programme that supports student activists who are at risk of being denied education or other rights in their home country due to their human rights activism.

Around the world, student activists speak out against authoritarian regimes and fight for democracy and human rights. Because of this, many are subjected to threats and persecution and met with arrests, surveillance, or expulsion from their universities.

The Norwegian Students at Risk programme provides student activists with the opportunity to complete their education in Norway. The programme not only offers a safe arena for learning, but also provides the opportunity to build networks with activists from other parts of the world who are also engaged in human rights activism.

Students at Risk is more than a scholarship scheme. It is a unique protection mechanism for young human rights defenders working for freedom and democracy in their home countries.

a woman is holding a megaphone at a protest .a woman is holding a megaphone at a protest .

From Norway …

After years of advocacy from SAIH and NSO, the Students at Risk programme was established in Norway in 2014. Since then, more than 125 students have received scholarships to study at a Norwegian higher education institution.

An evaluation carried out in 2020 documents that the programme contributes to strengthening the students' role as agents of change in their home countries.

There are several examples showing how students, after the programme, continue their activism and engagement for human rights, as active members of civil society, as journalists, in academia or as politicians. 

… to the world 

Around 20 students come to Norway each year and get an opportunity to complete their degree in a safe environment. However, the number of activists applying for the programme far exceeds the number of scholarships offered. 

SAIH is therefore working to establish similar programs in other countries.

As of 2024, Germany and Poland have established similar programs and there is interest from actors in Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, and Sweden. Together with the European Student Union (ESU), SAIH is also advocating for a European programme for students at risk.

a group of people gathered in front of a sign that says la terrea group of people gathered in front of a sign that says la terre

Facts about Students at Risk:

Human rights defender is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner.

The Students at Risk programme was formally established in Norway in 2014, following a campaign by SAIH and the Norwegian Student Organization (NSO).

The programmeis administered by the Directorate for Higher Education, on behalf of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

By the end of 2023, student activists from 26 countries had taken part in the scheme.

Similar schemes have been established in Germany (DAAD's Hilde Dominprogramme) and Poland (NAWA's Solidarity with Belarus). 

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