Ayla Bonfiglio

PhD fellow

Research group(s):
6. Migration and Development

Ayla Bonfiglio is a Doctoral Fellow at UNU-MERIT and Maastricht University exploring the tertiary education trajectories of refugees within Africa to gain a deeper understanding of agency within forced migration processes and the extent to which education migration may offer an alternative form of protection for refugees. Over the course of her PhD, she has held Visiting/Associate Researcher positions at the International Migration Institute (IMI) at the University of Oxford, the African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits University, the African Migration and Development Policy Centre in Nairobi, and Makerere University. 

Ayla is also a Founder and Principal at the Conflict and Education Learning Laboratory (CELL Foundation). Formerly, Ayla was a Research Officer at IMI working on the Mobility in the African Great Lakes project and the Global Migration Futures project, where she developed future migration scenarios for Europe, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and the Pacific. 

Ayla obtained an MSc in Forced Migration in 2010 from the University of Oxford. Her dissertation, published by UNHCR, examined non-formal education programs for refugees living in UNHCR-sponsored settlements versus urban areas in Uganda. Ayla also holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science from Columbia University. Her dissertation, which won the Charles A. Beard prize for the best paper in political science in two years, was a comparative study of the levels of self-reliance of urban self-settled and rural settlement refugees in Uganda. 

Ayla has worked and carried out research in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Guatemala, and Rwanda. She has worked as a Google Policy Fellow in Washington, D.C. studying the proliferation of African mobile telecommunications and she has worked with the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford on its development and outreach activities.




Selected publications by Ayla Bonfiglio


Articles (journal, professional, popular)
Laar, Mindel van de & Ayla Bonfiglio, 2017, 'Public policy beyond borders' - What lessons did we learn?, APPAM Conference Blog, More information


External working papers
Vezzoli, Simona, Ayla Bonfiglio & Hein de Haas, 2017, Global migration futures: Exploring the future of international migration with a scenario methodology, This paper presents the Global Migration Futures (GMF) Scenario Methodology developed at the University of Oxford’s International Migration Institute (IMI). The GMF Scenario Methodology integrates insights from migration theory with techniques from the Intuitive Logics School of scenario planning to enable the simultaneous and systematic examination of relatively certain and uncertain migration determinants, their future evolution as well as their implications for population mobility. In addition, this paper discusses the key insights gained through the application of the GMF Scenario Methodology in different world regions as well as its main limitations, More information
Bakewell, Oliver & Ayla Bonfiglio, 2013, Moving Beyond Conflict: Re-framing mobility in the African Great Lakes region, It is not surprising that conflict and crisis are often seen as the dominant features moving across the across the socio-political landscape in the African Great Lakes. As a result, many areas of life are analysed in its shadow – politics, economics, cult, More information
Bonfiglio, Ayla, 2010, Learning outside the classroom: non-formal refugee education in Uganda, The first part of the paper defines non-formal education (NFE) in the refugee context by synthesising the scholarly literature on non-formal education and the reports and practitioner manuals of organizations working within the field of emergency educatio, More information


Research reports
Bonfiglio, Ayla, Elaine McGregor & Melissa Siegel, 2015, Diaspora engagement in development: An analysis of the engagement of the Kenyan diaspora in Germany and the potentials for cooperation, Study commissioned by GIZ, More information


Other (editorship, media appearance, keynote, etc.)
Bonfiglio, Ayla & Mindel van de Laar, 2017, APPAM Conference Roundtable: How To Secure Funding for Your Policy Relevant Work: A Discussion with the Experts, More information


UNU-MERIT