University scholarships to help refugees and Lebanese nationals support their communities

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Nahed is taking part in the MBA programme, driven by her desire to improve life for Syrian and Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (Theirworld / Adrian Hartrick)

Refugees and internally displaced people, Theirworld

The joint Theirworld and Edinburgh Business School initiative will fully fund 20 students on the school’s flagship online Master of Business Administration programme.

Nahed wants to learn new skills. She also wants to lead by example and inspire others – especially girls and women.

So she’s delighted to be part of a joint initiative by Theirworld and Edinburgh Business School to enable Lebanese nationals and refugees living in Lebanon to earn an MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree from Heriot-Watt University. 

“I want to be an example for my five younger sisters and show them that I am studying, I am realising my dreams and I am working,” said Nahed.

She comes from a Palestinian refugee background and is driven by a desire to improve the human rights and quality of life for Palestinian and Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon. 

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MBA scholar and Syrian refugee Mustafa Dahdam, 25, receives his study tablet (Theirworld / Adrian Hartrick)

The Theirworld and Edinburgh Business School initiative is beginning with a cohort of 20 fully-funded places on the school’s flagship online MBA programme.

A diverse group of Syrian and Palestinian refugees, along with Lebanese nationals, have been selected and enrolled in the two-year post-graduate programme. Last month the students collected tablets that will allow them to access the bespoke learning platform and course materials for each of the MBA core courses.

That was just before the horrific explosion on August 4 that devastated a vast area of the Lebanese capital Beirut and left as many as 300,000 people homeless.

Despite the double blow of the disaster and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Lebanon’s education ministry is aiming to reopen schools at the end of September. The students on the MBA programme also felt it was important to continue their studies and try to get back to some kind of normality.

Among them is Malak – originally an entrepreneur who moved into the non-governmental sector after the Syrian refugee crisis began to affect her native Lebanon. She started working in child protection and programme coordination for several international NGOs and wants to use the MBA skills eventually to open her own business and NGO. 

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Originally an entrepreneur, Malak wants to use the skills from the MBA programme to help her open her own business and NGO (Theirworld / Adrian Hartrick)

The students will have academic support from the Edinburgh Business School at the city’s Heriot-Watt University but will take their examinations in Lebanon. The joint initiative with Theirworld has been made possible by the support of the players of People’s Postcode Lottery UK and Omniwomen.

Professor Heather McGregor, Executive Dean of Edinburgh Business School, said: “In these unprecedented times, it has never been more important to invest in education. I am incredibly proud of this programme supporting talented and highly-motivated scholars – some facing the most unimaginable challenges to pursue their chosen career.

“Our partnership with Theirworld is designed to empower students as they seek to build a better future for themselves and their families. 

“While studying with us, they gain a range of core business, management and leadership skills and one of the UK’s most prestigious management qualifications at the end of their studies.

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A student takes a tablet donated by Theirworld on which they will complete their online MBA programme with the Edinburgh Business School (Theirworld / Adrian Hartrick)

“Our diverse group of Syrian and Palestinian refugees and Lebanese nationals can already feel proud of themselves for fending off healthy competition of four applicants for every place. 

“We very much look forward to getting to know them in the next two years of the programme and supporting them throughout their time with us.”

Theirworld President Justin van Fleet said: “We are proud to be part of this partnership to support young people with the tools and resources to fuel their entrepreneurial spirit and create opportunity in Lebanon and the region.  

“With the region at a crossroads, it is young people who will pave the way for a better future.”

Theirworld and the Edinburgh Business School look forward to engaging their partners – including leadership at People’s Postcode Lottery UK – in the courses and guest lectures for the students. 

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