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1 Orienting readers

This page has been created within the CAS Higher Education in Emergencies, https://www.unige.ch/formcont/en/courses/he-emergencies , in March 2023 by the entire intake, in a joint collaborative effort. Contributing authors are: Jumana Basil Rashad Jabr; Ndamyo Ngosi Msofi; Alice Ndirangu; Sarah Paul; Ahmad Fawzi Shamsi; and Ochola Wayoga.

2 Defining Higher Education in Emergencies

Higher Education in Emergencies (HEiE) is an emerging term in the Education sector with different meanings to different players. According to the World Bank “Higher education, also known as tertiary education in some countries, refers to all post-secondary education, including both public and private universities, colleges, technical training institutes, and vocational schools”. This definition is interesting since it embraces the concept of education as a continuum showing how much education is a process in which each stage builds upon the previous one producing a mutually reinforcing effect(Higher Education in Emergencies (rrm-online.org).

Therefore, Higher Education in Emergencies is about providing education at the tertiary level be it in universities or vocational schools, and technical colleges during natural disasters, conflicts, refugee situations, or other humanitarian crises that disrupt or threaten the normal functioning of educational institutions or any other emergencies. HEiE promotes the right to education for all by enabling them to acquire knowledge, skills, and qualifications in rebuilding communities. Higher education unleashes innovation and entrepreneurial skills that are important for economic activity and job creation elements critical for stability during times of reconstruction and for longer-term sustainable development. Because education sustains life by offering safe spaces for learning and by making it possible to identify and support seriously affected individuals, particularly children and youth. As studies clearly show, education mitigates the psychosocial impact of conflict and disasters by providing a sense of normalcy, stability, structure and hope for the future. Quality education can save lives by providing physical protection from the dangers and exploitation of a crisis environment. In this regard, higher education plays a vital role in saving lives and giving a sense of hope for the future in the context of emergencies. It is higher education that will produce the leaders and skilled workforce that countries need to move forward, in particular after crisis and conflict (http://www.globalplatformforsyrianstudents.org/index.php/higher-education-in-emergencies).

3 Example of a HEIE context: Refugees

This section uses the following references:

The 1951 Convention on the Status of Refugees defines a refugee as anyone who due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or unwilling to use the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality but being outside the country where he used to live; or who, not having a nationality but being outside. A refugee is someone who had to leave their home country because of violence, persecution, or war. They can't or won't go back to their home country because they are afraid of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, political views, or because they are part of a certain social group.

International law, including the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, recognizes that refugees have certain rights and protections, like the right to ask for asylum and not be sent back to their home country against their will. Refugees have to deal with a lot of hard things, like losing their homes and belongings, being separated from their families, and having to start over in a new country. The international community has a duty to protect and help refugees, as well as to try to find long-term solutions to the conflicts and crises that force people to leave their homes.

Refugee emergency situations are times when people have to leave their homes because of war, persecution, or other kinds of violence. In these situations, people don't have enough of the things they need, like food, shelter, and medical care. This can have a big effect on education, even at the college level. Refugee emergencies are complicated situations that happen when a lot of people have to leave their homes because of violence, war, or persecution. There are a lot of different things that lead to refugee crises around the world, but often they have to do with political instability, economic inequality, and environmental factors.

Armed conflict is one of the main reasons why people have to flee their homes. Because of the ongoing fighting in Syria and South Sudan, millions of people have been forced to leave their homes. Many of them have gone to neighbouring countries to find safety. Millions of people have also been forced to leave their homes because of the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In addition to conflict, the DRC has to deal with a number of environmental problems, such as deforestation, soil erosion, and climate change, which make it harder to get food and force people to move.

Another reason why there are refugee crises is that people are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views. For example, the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh had to leave their homes in Myanmar because the Myanmar government was trying to hurt them. In the same way, the ongoing conflict in Ethiopia's Tigray region has forced over 2.2 million people to leave their homes. Many of them went to neighbouring Sudan to escape violence and persecution. Natural disasters like floods, droughts, and hurricanes can also cause people to have to leave their homes quickly. These disasters can force people to move because they lose their homes, jobs, and ways to get food and water. Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria are all in the Lake Chad Basin, which has been hit by a severe drought that has forced more than 2.4 million people to move. Lastly, economic problems like high unemployment, inflation, and poverty can also make it hard for refugees to find safe places to live. For example, because of the ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela, millions of people have left the country in search of better jobs and easier access to things like food and medicine. In the same way, Zimbabwe's ongoing economic crisis has caused thousands of people to leave the country in search of better jobs in neighbouring countries.

The global causes of refugee crises are complicated and multifaceted. Knowing these issues is critical for establishing effective answers to refugees' needs. International organisations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) work to offer refugees with humanitarian aid and support. However, long-term solutions necessitate political and economic stability, as well as sustainable development. Higher education is sometimes neglected as a non-essential demand in the aftermath of refugee crises. Higher education, on the other hand, is important in allowing refugees to reconstruct their lives and contribute to the growth of their host communities. A range of actions are required to guarantee that refugees have access to higher education options.

Refugees' Access to Higher Education: Creating opportunities for higher education within refugee camps is one of the most crucial actions required to assure refugee access to higher education. Also, there is a need to improve access to higher education in the host country. The Jesuit Worldwide Learning program established the Higher Education at the Margins initiative, which provides degree programs to refugees in Kenya, Malawi, and Afghanistan. This initiative has provided refugees with the opportunity to pursue higher education, which is an important first step toward rebuilding their life.

Financial Assistance to Refugees: Higher education expenditures, such as tuition and textbooks, can be a big obstacle for refugees who are already trying to make ends meet. Financial assistance in the form of scholarships or grants can help refugees gain access to higher education possibilities. The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI) is one example of a program that offers scholarships to refugees to assist them pursue higher education. This initiative has provided refugees with the opportunity to pursue higher education, which is vital for them to reconstruct their lives and contribute to the growth of their host communities.

Building Refugee Capacity: Higher education institutions can play an important role in empowering refugees to contribute to the development of their host communities. This might include training entrepreneurship, leadership, and conflict resolution skills, as well as promoting civic engagement and community development. The University of Geneva's "Geneva Global Goals Innovation Challenge" is one example of a program that aims to create capacity in refugees by providing entrepreneurial training. This program has given refugees the skills they need to create their own enterprises and contribute to the growth of their host communities.

Refugee Psychosocial Support: Many refugees have undergone trauma and may require psychosocial help to participate in higher education. Higher education institutions can help refugees by providing psychosocial support services such as counselling and mentoring. The Jusoor Mentoring Program is one example of a program that provides mentorship and psychosocial support to Syrian refugees. This program has enabled refugees to overcome their trauma and pursue higher education, which is crucial in allowing them to reconstruct their lives.

4 Initiatives- taking stock of what happens on the ground with regard to HEIE

Higher education unleashes innovation and entrepreneurial skills that are important for economic activity and job creation elements critical for stability during times of reconstruction and for longer-term sustainability. Despite this fact, Higher education in emergencies has remained largely neglected and outside the sector of education in emergencies in humanitarian response situations where it is being seen by many actors as not an acute priority during emergencies. Comparatively, Higher education in emergencies is given low attention by international cooperation and humanitarian Aid. Humanitarian Aid is mainly focused on provision of food, shelter and to some extent provision of basic primary education and lower secondary education which happens in the camps or is integrated into the host country education system. There have been a number of initiatives on the ground since 2014 to draw attention towards giving higher education a priority in case of emergency happening.

An international conference was organised on 16-17 December 2014 in Brussels , Belgium by a set of stakeholders including the council of Europe, the British Council , the League of Arabs states, the institute of International Education and the global platform for Syrian students - to draw attention to the urgent need to reflect on the key questions including the vital role of higher education in saving lives, and giving a sense of hope for the future in the context of emergencies. The central idea is that, in humanitarian crises, education and in particular higher education is too often neglected. And yet, it is higher education that will produce the leaders and skilled workforce that countries need to move forward, in particular after a crisis and conflict.

This conference aimed at providing recommendations that may pave the way for some type of Rapid Response Mechanism for higher education in the event of natural disaster or armed conflict as is the case in Syria and Ukraine currently. This Conference was planned as a starting point of a broader process that continued in 2015 with a two-fold aim:

On the one hand, to put higher education high on the post-2015 development agenda because missing this opportunity will mean that no real progress on the ground will be made in the next fifteen years. Exploring the various entry-points possibilities and making a strong advocacy campaign are top priority actions.

On the other hand, further reflection on the international responsibility of protecting and rebuilding higher education in emergencies should continue. Exploring ways of making the international community endorse a call to action or a set of principles or hopefully commit to set up a rapid response mechanism for higher education in emergencies are questions that needed further discussion and exploration. Its inclusion in the post-2015 agenda was also being sought.

From 2014 to date there has been quite a number of follow-up events which include the following;

● The year of 2015 marked good progress in terms of advocacy made by the GP4SYS at the international stage to raise awareness about the unique role higher education plays in conflict situations and the need for the international community to deliver more higher education opportunities for refugees, IDPs and young people facing crisis situations

● EU/EEAS Seminar on Syria held in Brussels in January 2015.

● The British Council organised a workshop on “Higher Education in Emergency Environments” within its annual Conference Going Global (1-2 June 2015).

● From its side, the University of York organised in July 2015 a high-level workshop aimed at developing an International Accord for the protection and rebuilding of higher education affected by conflict, crisis and transitions.

● The Clinton Global Initiative organised a discussion on "Beyond Shelter, Water, and Food: Prioritizing Education in Emergency Response" (2015 September, 29) in the framework of its Annual Meeting 2015.

● A High-Level Breakfast Meeting on: "Ensuring the Inclusion of the Right to Education in Emergencies in the Post-2015 Development Agenda" was organised by the Permanent Missions of Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Norway, Portugal, and Qatar to the UNwhich took place on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 at the United Nations HQ, New York.

● Moreover, the GP4SYS participated in the Wise Summit organised in Doha in November 2015 by sending a video address.

In 2016, the follow-up initiatives followed by different actors to advocate for higher education in emergencies and these include;

● The Global Platform for Syrian Students participated in the side event on "Value-based Education: Guiding the Next Generation towards Humanitarian Principles – also in Emergencies" organised in the framework of the World Humanitarian Summit 2016 by the Swiss Confederation and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

● During the meeting organised with the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, during its visit to Portugal in May 2016, the Chairman of the Global Platform for Syrian Students, Former President of Portugal Jorge Sampaio, and the students of the GP4SYS, the access to higher education in emergencies was enlightened as a priority.

● A session on "Sustainable and Strategic Investment in Refugees" where the GP4SYS participated, was held in the framework of the Global Donors Forum 2016 organised by the World Congress of Muslim Philanthropists.

● The Global Platform for Syrian Students attended the events organised on the implementation of the COMPACT FOR YOUNG PEOPLE IN HUMANITARIAN ACTION, one of the most important commitments made at the WHS.

● During the National Conference on Refugee Sponsorship Programmes and Student Scholarship hosted by UNHCR Ireland in Dublin, the GP4SYS shared its experience in the field of student scholarships.

● In the framework of the United Nations High-level Summit to Address Large Movements of Refugees and Migrants, a high-level side event on "Boosting Opportunities for Higher Education in Emergencies" was co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of the State of Qatar and Portugal to the United Nations in NY in association with the Global Platform for Syrian Students, and a number of leading organisations. The event took place on Monday, 19 September 2016 at the United Nations.

● The GP4SYS participated in the last workshop on "Delivering Higher Education for Syrian Refugees" organised by SPARK, the British Council and Al Fanar Media in partnership with Luminus Edu in Jordan in November 2016.

● During the Ignite 2016 Conference on "Tackling Instability, Radicalisation and Forced Migration" organised by SPARK in Amsterdam, the GP4SYS participated in several debates and workshops focused on how to tackle root causes of instability, radicalisation and forced migration in Africa, the EU and the Middle East with special attention given to the role of entrepreneurship, higher education and leadership in fragile states.

● The Global Platform for Syrian Students participated in the "regional meeting on higher education, internationalisation and academic mobility in the Euro-Mediterranean region" organised by the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat on 15 December 2016 at the UfM headquarters in Barcelona.

● During the Lisbon Forum 2016 on "Migration and human rights: how to structure effective collective action? Best practices and shared knowledge in the Mediterranean and European space", Adam, a 26-year-old Syrian student in Portugal, explained how programmes like the Global Platform for Syrian Students should be expanded because it has so far enabled Adam and some 150 other young Syrians to resume university studies under its emergency scholarship programs.

● Moreover, during the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) 2016 which took place in Istanbul on 23-24 May 2016, the Global Platform for Syrian Students prepared an analytical paper on WHS Self-Reporting on Agenda for Humanity Transformation 3EHumanity Transformation 3E: Eliminate Gaps in Education for Children, Adolescents and Young People.

In 2017, further initiatives were commissioned to strengthen the need for much better higher education in emergencies which included the following conferences aimed at adding more attention to wider community to ensure education continues amidst emergencies;

● The Global Platform for Syrian Students (GP4SYS) participated in the event on "Recognition of Qualifications and Competences of Immigrants and Refugees" organised on 27 March 2017 by the Calouste Gulbekian Foundation in partnership with the Lisbon City Council and the High Commission for Migration, within the framework of the Municipal Plan for the Integration of Immigrants in Lisbon (2015-2017).

● This conference discussed the mechanisms for recognition of qualifications and competences of foreigners in Portugal, particularly immigrants and refugees, and the needs of Portuguese companies with qualified human resources.

● The GP4SYS presented its experience during session 3 on "Processes for the recognition of qualifications". Khouloud, a syrian student member of the GP4SYS, also presented her testimony during session 4 on "Qualified immigrants and refugees in Portugal".

● Workshops co-organised by the OECD, WBG and CMI on "Strengthening human resources for health, integrating refugees into host communities health systems" on 29 - 30 March 2017.

● International Seminar on "Education and Cooperation in Emergencies: concepts, agendas, actors and challenges" organised by the University of Minho (Portugal) and held on 7th April 2017.

● Workshop on "Postgraduate Education for Syrian Students" organised by the Rhodes Trust on 11 and 12 May 2017.

● During the "2nd UfM regional meeting on Higher Education internationalisation and academic mobility in the Euro-Mediterranean region" organised by the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat on 11 May 2017, the Global Platform for Syrian Students shared its experience in supporting Syrian students and its efforts in promoting higher education in emergencies.

● The Global Platform for Syrian Students was invited to participate in a Planning and Development Workshop delivered in partnership with the British Council, and built on the 23 May 2017 Going Global session about World Access to Higher Education Day.

● On 8 June 2017, the GP4SYS also participated in the Coimbra Group Annual Conference and General Assembly held in Edinburgh (UK).

● On 28 June 2017, a High-Level Event on Education was convened in partnership with key SDG 4 stakeholders to drive a new push for inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all. The Global Platform for Syrian Students was part of this event and our representative, the Secretary General, Ms Helena Barroco, made an intervention during the panel: DIALOGUE: WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO ACHIEVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 4?.

● The GP4SYS also participated in the Meeting on Higher Education and Refugees in the Mediterranean Region held on 26 - 27 September 2017 and organised in Beirut (Lebanon) by H.O.P.E.S. | MADAD, a EU-supported initiative.

In 2018, the following events took place: The International Conference on "Higher Education in Emergencies: Doing More, Better and Faster" was held on 05 April 2018, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation | Lisbon, Portugal. With the aim of setting up a Rapid Response Mechanism for Higher Education in Emergencies, the Global Platform for Syrian Students organised an "International Conference on Higher Education in Emergencies: Doing More, Better and Faster" with the support of the Portuguese Government. The conference brought together more than 300 participants including high-level government representatives and experts.

In 2019:

● With the aim of consolidating advocacy role in promoting higher education in emergencies and boosting higher education opportunities for refugees and students in forced mobility, the GP4SYS actively participated in 16 national and international events in 2019.

● Advocacy actions to boost higher education opportunities in emergencies gained traction over 2019. GP4SYS actively participated in prepara-tory meetings in the lead up to the 1st Global Refugee Forum organised by the UNHCR in Geneva on 17-18 December 2019. Further-more, together with the Ministry of Foreign Af-fairs, GP4SYS submitted a joint pledge at the Forum aimed at implementing the RRM and increasing the number of scholarships to be awarded in 2020.

● 2019 marked a turning point in the UNHCR’s interest in and commitment to promoting higher education for refugees. It promoted sever-al meeting on this topic in the lead up to the Global Forum and announced the new target of “15/30” aiming at reaching 15 per cent of refugees having access to tertiary education by 2030, https://www.unhcr.org/tertiary-education.html .

● In March, the Portuguese Parliament approved by unanimity a general appraisal of the GP4SYS.

● The McCall-Pierpaoli Humanitarian Award was awarded to Vartan Gregorian, President of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and to Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal and Chairman of the Global Platform for Syrian Students, by Refugee International for their work in the promotion of higher education opportunities for Syrian students. The ceremony took place on 30 April 2019 in Washington, D.C., in the framework of the celebration of Refugees International’s 40th anniversary.

● The Global Platform for Syrian Students was also distinguished by the Institute of International Education (IIE) with the IIE Centennial Medal.

● At the Paris Peace Forum (November 2019), the RRM was selected among 700 projects to be show-cased and was recognized among 104 projects as a potential initiative to be scaled-up worldwide and incubated in 2020 together with other 9 projects.

● The preparation of a new edition of a survey on Higher Education in Emergencies was launched with a view to being released in 2020 in a follow up workshop on the International Conference held in 2018.

The UNHCR report of 2022 indicates that enrolment at tertiary level has risen to 6 per cent. While this is well below global levels, particularly in wealthier countries, this is still a considerable improvement on recent years, when refugee enrolment at the tertiary level stood as low as 1 percent. UNHCR continues to work towards 15 per cent enrolment of young refugees in tertiary education by 2030 (the 15 by 30 target), with the DAFI programme the cornerstone of this ambition. DAFI has supported over 21,000 young refugees to undertake tertiary studies since 1992.

5 Digitalization and Higher Education in Emergencies

This section uses the following references:

  • [1] Crompton, H., Burke, D., Jordan, K., & Wilson, S. W. (2021). Learning with technology during emergencies: A systematic review of K‐12 education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(4), 1554-1575.
  • [2] Williamson, B., Eynon, R., & Potter, J. (2020). Pandemic politics, pedagogies and practices: digital technologies and distance education during the coronavirus emergency. Learning, Media and Technology, 45(2), 107-114.
  • [3] Appolloni, A., Colasanti, N., Fantauzzi, C., Fiorani, G., & Frondizi, R. (2021). Distance learning as a resilience strategy during Covid-19: An analysis of the Italian context. Sustainability, 13(3), 1388.
  • [4] Beardsley, M., Albó, L., Aragón, P., & Hernández‐Leo, D. (2021). Emergency education effects on teacher abilities and motivation to use digital technologies. British Journal of Educational Technology, 52(4), 1455-1477.
  • [5] Milton, S., & Milton, S. (2018). Higher education in emergencies. Higher Education and Post-Conflict Recovery, 121-139.
  • [6] https://www.uopeople.edu/tuition-free/scholarships/syrian-refugee-scholarship/
  • [7] https://www.coursera.org/refugees
  • [8] https://kiron.ngo/about-us
  • [9] https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kiron_Open_Higher_Education

The challenges encountered during emergencies, such as wars or natural disasters lead to the disclosure of the educational institutions, which leads to an educational gap in society, especially when taking much time. Consequently, technology has become an alternative solution that may enable education[1]. Digitalization represents a good solution that may enable learners of getting access to the knowledge needed for assisting them in their higher education. The recent literature includes a mass body of studies that examined the use of digitalization of education. These studies investigated different perspectives of digitalization in education during emergencies, such as implications[2], strategies[3], and effects[4].

Despite the wide studies that assured the importance of finding solutions that can facilitate the pedagogical process, much of the attention was on pre-university education rather than higher education[5]. This has led to a gap in society since higher education is quite important in the long term as it is responsible for providing society with the needed labor at all levels.

Although the studies in the literature focus on K-12 education rather than higher education (citation), several attempts have been made to bridge the higher education gap during emergencies.

1. University of the People: it is considered the first non-profit accredited university in the USA. It offers different programs for free, where students pay for their exams only. Yet, it offers scholarships for students coming from countries in an emergency. In coordination with Foundation Hoffmann, refugees and asylum-seekers are offered scholarships to proceed with their university studies, being associate or bachelor’s degree. Consequently, refugees are offered the chance to receive a recognized higher education degree without the need for attending on campus.[6]

2. Coursera: in 2016, Coursera, in cooperation with 30 partners, launched the Coursera Refugee Initiative to offer free transformational knowledge to refugees all over the world, which eventually reached tens of thousands of students from more than 100 countries[7]. Prospective candidates for this program are offered access to certain courses that strengthen their knowledge about varied fields, such as data analysis, business, computer science, and others. Although the courses offered are certified by accredited universities, many of them may not count as a university degree. Rather, it is more a source of knowledge that can enrich the participants’ experience.

3. Kiron: it is an initiative aiming to equip refugees in Germany, Lebanon, and Jordan, which are basically working with Syrian refugees. It also offers online education services to refugees all over the world. The initiative aims to equip refugee learners with courses in order to be ready for the job market in cooperation with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) from educational providers as well as Open Educational Resources (OERs).[8] As courses may not grant refugees with a higher education certificate, Kiron, in cooperation with some partnering universities, started offering some refugees, who succeed in the courses offered, the chance to switch to a partner university and receive an accredited bachelor’s degree certificate[9].

6 Connected learning

This section uses the following references:

  • El-Ghali H and Ghosn E (2019) ‘Connected Learning in Lebanon’, Issam Fares Institute at the American University of Beirut and UNHCR Lebanon
  • Cerna, L. (2019). Refugee Education: integration models and Practices in OECD Countries.
  • UNHCR (2014) Roundtable Report on Connected Higher Learning Programmes for Refugees bit.ly/UNHCR-Connected-Learning-2014
  • UNESCO (2018) Fulfilling the right to education for refugees and undocumented migrants.
  • UNHCR (2018a) DAFI 2018: Refugee Student Voices-Annual Report.
  • WENR (2015). The importance of higher education for Syrian refugees. http://wenr.wes.org/2015/12/the-importance-of-higher-education-for-syrian-refugees .

In a world of global interconnection and rapid change, effective learning is lifelong and integrated into the real world of work, civic engagement, and social participation. Learners no longer want to just bank knowledge and skills from school and wait to apply them to a world of work later in life, they want an approach to educational reform that recognizes learning as an ongoing process, connected to a diverse and evolving ecosystem of learning resources, institutions, communities, and outcomes (Freire, 1970).

Connected Learning is an innovative form of higher education that uses information technology to combine face-to-face and online learning. It enables students living in remote areas to connect with top universities and to exchange knowledge globally. Since 2010, over 25,000 refugee learners in 23 countries have participated in Connected Learning programmes globally. .Connected learning is constantly growing, connecting humanitarian, academic, and development actors across the globe .Students use information communication technology (ICT), which permits learning to be more flexible as it is not limited by time or geography, unlike traditional higher education. This method enables learning to be more interactive and can provide access to education for a large number of students in different parts of the world at low cost. These connected learning environments ideally embody values of equity, social belonging and participation. Connected learning environments are generally characterised by a sense of shared purpose, a focus on production, and openly networked infrastructures and its therefore relevant and perhaps timely category bringing together diverse efforts addressing refugee higher education.

The virtual teaching methods employed can involve real-time interaction between instructor and students, such as video-conferencing or live chats, or non-real time interactions, such as posting on discussion boards or learning from videotaped lectures. The use of social media and other internet platforms facilitates a more informal interaction between students and their peers and between students and their instructors, which complements their formal learning. However While connected learning offers a valuable narrative in bringing such higher initiatives together, more nuanced conceptual, theoretical, and methodological work is needed especially looking at connected learning in higher education with refugees, although connected learning is commendable and need to be scaled up, a concerted, contextualised and informed strategy appears to be still lacking, especially one that brings multiple stakeholders across sectors to work together ,there is need for inclusive policies to target refugee students, not as an act of charity, but an issue of social justice and that will ultimately benefit all students and enhance education.

Throughout the process, the voices and demands of refugee students themselves need to be heard, prioritised, and education developed and delivered in partnership with them. Only then can learning becoming genuinely connected, personalised and transformative Flexibility is needed in admitting and supporting refugees throughout the process where the higher education sector, in particular national institutions develop tools that allow assessment of qualifications and experience, without documentation, and where knowledge and potential are prioritised over qualifications, nationality or race. Only then can refugee students stand a chance on an equal footing. This cannot be done without a genuine desire to include, without prejudice.

7 Recommendations

This section uses the following references:

UNHCR considers education as a basic right, “one that is vital in restoring hope and dignity to people driven from their homes.”

Unfortunately, higher education is often a luxury for vulnerable people and for those who have been displaced. With emergencies creating more vulnerable peoples, more refugees and displaced persons than ever, we must find innovative ways to provide learning opportunities for those in emergencies.

Evidently, providing higher education in emergencies is not an easy task. Based on many educators` practices, below are some recommendations outlined for policy makers and for higher education institutions to consider in supporting higher education in emergencies:

  • Mainstream programs, so that all targeted people are an implicit part of the target audience.
  • Consider ways of innovation in higher education. 10 ways to innovate in higher education in emergencies, By Lauren Parater, Associate Innovation Engagement Officer July 3, 2015/ https://reliefweb.int/report/world/10-ways-innovate-higher-education-emergencies
  • Engage with national institutions to share experiences and tackle the tough questions surrounding refugees` or other targeted groups` support in all different areas.
  • Get accreditation for digital programs so that higher education institutes can cooperate and connect across the world in delivering education where it is needed the most.
  • Reach out to (inter)national decision makers and stakeholders to act as an advocate for the importance of higher education in emergencies and for raising awareness about the need to boost higher education opportunities for young people caught up in crisis due to conflict, persecution or natural disasters.
  • Waive tuition fees and make fees affordable for all by introducing different kinds of scholarships and facilitating payments.
  • Introduce different kinds of higher education degrees such as micro and nano degrees.
  • Further reflection on the international responsibility of protecting and rebuilding higher education in emergencies should continue. Exploring ways of making the international community endorse a call to action or a set of principles or hopefully commit to set up a rapid response mechanism for higher education in emergencies are questions that need to be further discussed and explored.