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Making a difference with refugees

Vlora Shemsedini discusses her experience of studying the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies and accomplishing her dream.

Written by Adrian Hall |

Vlora Shemsedini
"The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies was an essential step in developing my career"

How has the MA helped your career?

Through the online materials and the expert guidance of the MA module convenors (many of whom are both leading academics and practitioners in refugee protection), my understanding of refugee protection in both academic and practical terms has taken great leaps forward.

In practice, this has helped me enormously in my work with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), especially in debates about who qualifies as a refugee. 

Given the current situation in the world, my studies have helped me identify a need for better dialogue with government officials, the media and others about what we mean by terms such as ‘refugee’ or ‘migrant’.

What were the most important aspects of the programme?

The mandatory online assignments in both the core modules (Human Rights and Refugee Law; Forced Migration Studies) and elective modules (Refugee Protection in Europe; Internally Displaced Persons; Gender and Refugees, etc.) are very important.

These assignments were great for expanding and strengthening our analytical skills. They also prepared us for the core module exams that can be taken at examination centres around the world.

Exams: how they work when you study by distance learning.

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This MA is the only programme of its type to be offered by distance learning.

How has the MA programme supported your work with international agencies?

My studies have been of great support, guiding my daily work at UNHCR with refugees. I have been working actively with the Kosovo authorities in capacity-building and supporting the establishment of a functional asylum system in Kosovo.

I have contributed proactively to the promotion of the refugee law and protection principles in Kosovo, thereby building the capabilities of Kosovo authorities and civil society in line with international standards. 

The knowledge and skills that I have built up through study on the MA programme have been extremely useful in this endeavour.

Has it helped you reach your goals and ambitions?

The MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies was an essential step in developing my career, knowledge and skills within this exciting and challenging field. 

My dream has been accomplished – to continue working with UNHCR in one of the many operations that respond to emergency refugee situations, such as Uganda, which currently hosts over one million refugees. 

I have accomplished my dream, and I strongly encourage others to do the same by studying refugee affairs.