CAPRS Non-Residential Fellowship

Further scholarly research related to forced displacement in the Asia Pacific region by converting your existing research into action-oriented policy papers through this fellowship.

About the programme

The University of Auckland’s Centre for Asia Pacific Refugee Studies (CAPRS) focuses on generating evidence-based and high-impact research to support persons forcibly displaced by climate or conflict.

To further this mission, CAPRS offers the Non-Residential Fellowship (NRF), an opportunity focused on supporting the conversion of existing research to impact-oriented policy papers across the Asia Pacific. More specifically, the program is to create a supportive platform for scholars who have already completed a masters or doctoral thesis related to forced displacement in the Asia Pacific region – with a focus on converting their research into action-oriented impact.

NRF fellows receive a NZ $12,500 stipend over a six-month period to support them to convert their masters/PhD thesis into an action-oriented policy paper / product.

Each fellow will be assigned a mentor to work with them during the fellowship. Professional development seminars will be held during the fellowship to support fellows in their work. These seminars will provide guidance on research impact, working with the media, communicating findings across different audiences, and fostering the mentor/mentee relationship.

Fellows will be required to have completed their policy paper conversion by the end of the fellowship period. In addition, Fellows will be expected to present their findings and recommendations to key stakeholders through a virtual forum at the end of the Programme.

Fellows will also attend a special workshop on academic publishing, which will be organised by Routledge, a global publisher of academic books, journals and online resources in the humanities and social sciences.

This fellowship programme has been sponsored by CAPRS' partner institution, Potato Productions Singapore.

Application for 2023 have now open!

Further information can be found here

Eligibility criteria

  • Must have recently completed and received qualifications in either masters or PhD studies.
  • Must conduct their work in the Asia Pacific and be pertinent to the wider region.
  • Must convert research that is explicitly related to displacement. Possible topics include but are not limited to:
    • Education in emergencies
      • May include access at the primary, secondary, or tertiary level
    • Inclusive education for forcibly displaced communities
      • May include factors based on race, disability, neurodivergent, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.
    • Climate change induced displacement
    • Role of gender and sexuality in displaced and refugee communities
    • Effects of COVID-19 on displaced and refugee communities
    • Mental health of displaced people in host communities
    • Work opportunities post displacement
    • Government responses and attitudes towards newly arrived refugees and its impact on opinions of the general population
    • Cultural Heritage “on the move” – Intangible cultural heritage of displaced communities
  • Preference will be given to applicants who have lived experience of forced displacement.

Application requirements

  • 1 page CV: format with selected articles, current status, education background, work experience (where applicable)
  • Thesis Synopsis: Summary of your thesis including contribution to existing scholarship, justification, methodology, results, discussion.
  • Policy paper proposal: anticipated outcome, details of anticipated action-oriented project.
  • University support: Letter from a university advisor that supports your project.
    • This letter will speak to the applicant’s research and work in their field of interest. The applicant may select who is best suited to provide this letter.

Our 2022-2023 NRF Fellows

Abdullah Mohammadi

Abdullah Mohammadi is a second-generation Afghan refugee born in exile. He holds a Master degree in Demography from the University of Tehran and in his thesis, ‘The myth of return: Socio-economic reintegration and sustainable return among Afghans’, he studied the experience of socio-economic reintegration among Afghan returnees from Iran and their future migration intentions. He also published several papers, chapters and op-eds on Afghan displacement and migrant smuggling networks.

Since 2016, Abdullah has been working with Mixed Migration Centre (MMC) at the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) as the Regional Coordinator for Asia region and supported the establishment of the 4Mi in the region to collect data on Afghan, Rohingya and Bangladeshi mixed movements. At MMC Asia, Abdullah and his colleagues develop information products in order to inform policy formation, political debate, and humanitarian programming. He has extensive field experience in Afghanistan, Iran, India, Indonesia, Sweden and Germany. Prior to MMC, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Tehran where he was working on research projects on Afghan refugees’ secondary movements from Iran towards Europe and Australia. He was also a teacher at a self-administered refugee-led school for undocumented Afghan children in Qom, Iran.

Following the events leading up to the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021, he was displaced like thousands of other Afghans and now, is living in Sweden as a refugee.

Dr. Jonathan Birtwell

Jonathan is a PhD Graduate from the University of Cambridge Faculty of Education. His thesis explored the learner identities of students with refugee backgrounds in Malaysia as they approached the end of their secondary education and looked towards continuing their educational journeys in a context of profound uncertainty. The PhD project adopted a participatory methodology that engaged youth in refugee learning centres in Kuala Lumpur in an exploration of their learning biographies and identities to further understand the sociological drivers behind access to education.

Prior to embarking on the PhD, Jonathan spent time working as the Education Programmes Coordinator at a refugee learning centre in Malaysia. During this time, he helped to launch an IGCSE programme and was part of a team that founded the CERTE (Connecting and Equipping Refugees to Tertiary Education) Bridge Course. This intensive bridging programme connecting aspiring youth to opportunities to continue into higher education through knowledge transfer and skills development and support applications to programmes available to youth with refugee backgrounds. The CERTE Bridge Course has now completed eight cohorts of students, including two cohorts conducted online because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to work with refugee learning centres, Jonathan has conducting research into improving participation of youth with refugee backgrounds in higher education with universities in Malaysia that have signed MOUs with UNHCR Malaysia. As part of the Fellowship, he is developing a set of guidance for universities and institutions of further education in Malaysia that hope to open their doors to students with refugee backgrounds. This includes familiarising admissions staff with the difficulties that these students face in access to higher education and how access programmes can be designed to better accommodate their specific needs.

Jonathan's final policy report is available here.

Fiona MacGregor

Fiona MacGregor is an award-winning researcher and analyst specialising in gender, conflict and human rights. She has worked extensively on issues involving women and girls affected by armed conflict and forced displacement in Asia Pacific for over a decade. In 2022 she was awarded a Doctoral Scholarship on UN Goal 16 of Peace and Trust to become a PHD candidate at Durham Law School. Her research involves a feminist social-legal exploration of international law and policy relating to sexual and gender-based violence in large-scale displacement settings.

During the Covid 19 pandemic she undertook a Master in Laws: Gender, Conflict and Human Rights at the Transitional Justice Institute of Ulster University for which she was awarded distinction. Her dissertation drew on her extensive field experience in Myanmar and Bangladesh – as a journalist and with the UN - to identify and explore the under-researched issue of sexual violence being perpetrated against Rohingya women and girl refugees in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Her work used feminist socio-legal methodologies to consider how UN and State policies contribute to these violations going largely unaddressed.

Fiona’s research on human rights abuses against Rohingya people has seen her report from displacement camps in Myanmar’s Rakhine State (for which she received a SOPA award for Human Rights Reporting); from Malaysia and Thailand during the Andaman Sea during boat-push backs; and from Bangladesh in 2017 as Myanmar military attacks forced hundreds of thousands of civilians over the border. While in Myanmar she also reported from ethic minority communities across the country, including those directly affected by the civil wars in Shan and Kachin States.

She went on to work with UN agencies in Cox’s Bazar in various roles and gained extensive experience and insight into the humanitarian response there. Her most recent work for the UN involved first-of its kind, in-depth field and desk-based research on security threats against women and girl refugee in the camps which gave rise to significant policy recommendations being shared across the UN response.

Whether working to ensure better inclusion of women’s experiences and views in media reports on conflict and displacement; producing research and analysis for the UN and other international actors; or seeking to shine new academic insight on international law and policy relating to peace and security, Fiona has consistently sought to take a gender-aware approach to her work which recognises and highlights the importance of women and girls’ contributions to matters of peace and security.

Her reports and analysis have appeared in a wide range of publications including The Guardian, The Sunday Times, NBC, Foreign Policy, The Telegraph, Al Jazeera and the BBC. Her work has also been cited in reports by UN agencies, government bodies, human rights organisations and academic researchers.

Fiona's final policy report is available here.

Rabia Salihi

Rabia Salihi is a Senior Researcher with the Afghanistan Human Rights and Democracy Organisation (AHRDO) where she researches and investigates human rights violations and international crimes under the Taliban regime. Prior to this, Rabia worked as a Programme Specialist with the Asia (formerly Afghanistan) Displacement Solutions Platform (ADSP) at the Danish Refugee Council, Research Specialist at the Afghan Children Read, and the Afghanistan Holding Group.

Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan in August 2021, Rabia was displaced and is now resettled in Canada through the Canadian dedicated refugee stream for human rights defenders at risk. While in transit in Pakistan prior to her resettlement, Rabia supported more than 170 other human rights defenders and their families with their asylum applications and relocation processes. During this time, Rabia continued her work with AHRDO and has authored and contributed to four thematic policy research reports recently released by the organization.

Rabia holds a master’s degree in Refugee and Forced Migration Studies from the University of Oxford and an MA in in Development Studies: track in Governance, Migration and Diversity from the Erasmus University Rotterdam. Rabia’s MA thesis on implementation of assisted and voluntary return and reintegration schemes in Afghanistan was the winner of Jos Mooij Research Paper Award in 2020. Rabia is expanding this research into an evidence-base and action-oriented policy paper as part of the CAPRS Non-Residential Fellowship.

Experiencing displacement firsthand, and for the second time in her life, Rabia continues to advocate for refugees and persons involuntarily returned to Afghanistan, including former Afghanistan National Defence and Security Forces, women, and children among others. Rabia’s work and a policy paper on ‘assisted’ and ‘voluntary’ returns comes at a time of increased need to ensure more robust and transparent measures to support displaced Afghans.

Frequently asked questions

Who is eligible to apply?

Recently graduated students holding a masters or PhD diploma whose thesis focused on an area of displacement in Asia Pacific. Applicants who have experienced forced displacement are strongly encouraged to apply. 

How can I apply?

Fill out the application for this fellowship by following this link.

The dates of the fellowship don't work for me, can I propose new dates?

Unfortunately, all fellowships must begin and end around the same time, and we do not accept rolling applications. We will be providing this opportunity on a yearly basis and you are welcome to apply in a future round.

I am not based in Asia Pacific, but my research focuses on displacement in Asia Pacific, can I apply?

Yes! As long as the research is specific to this region, you can still apply.

I am based in Asia Pacific, but my research has a global focus, can I apply?

The research must be specific to this region. You may contact NRF Programme Coordinator, Evan Jones, at to further discuss if your area of focus is eligible. 

My research focuses on displacement in Asia Pacific but is not listed as a possible topic, can I still apply?

Yes, we welcome other areas of focus for consideration.

How will the fellowship work be structured?

Every fellow will be able to structure their work as best suits their schedule and in conversation with their mentor. This opportunity is geared to fit in with other research and work obligations fellows may have.

When will I hear back about the status of my application?

Shortlisted candidates will be contacted approximately three weeks after the closing date, for interviews with the selection committee. Final selections will be made a couple of weeks later. 

How many fellows will be supported through this opportunity?

In 2023, we will support up to four fellows. Stay in touch with CAPRS for future opportunities via our newsletter and our website.