UniRef, University for Refugees, is an apolitical Swiss recognized charity non-governmental organization, founded in 2013 by Yvelyne and Bryan Wood. The Woods believe in education as a way to reach world peace and social inclusion.
UniRef provides a sustainable solution to some issues faced by refugees, such as unemployment in the formal sector or poverty, by offering a possibility to enroll in higher education.
Our approach is innovative and unique as UniRef’s mission relies on its own operational capacity. This autonomy enables us to directly bring ad-hoc on site university programs. In this regard, UniRef reaches out to the victims of armed conflicts, and not the other way around.
To respond to the precariousness of refugees’ situation, UniRef strives to empower this community by creating intensive and short-term professionalizing trainings.
Yvelyne Wood is a visual artist, sculptor and scenographer whose artwork is rooted in the History of Wars and supported by The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Human Rights Office the High Commissioner (OFCHR) and the French Ministry of Culture.
Bryan Wood is the Founder and Managing General Partner of the venture capital firm “Alta Berkeley” regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). He studied at Virginia Tech (B.S.I.E) and Harvard University (MBA).
UniRef was created after an appalling study, carried out in collaboration with the UNHCR and former Sorbonne University President. The research led to the conclusion that primary and secondary education are much more covered in the developing countries than tertiary education. Indeed, in 2018, the enrollment rate of refugees was 63% in primary education, 24% in secondary education but only 3% in tertiary education.