Walking the Talk: How University Communities Can Foster Higher Education Opportunities for Refugee Students

Aslam Kakar and Anna Agbotse
Date of Publication: 
January, 2021
Source Organization: 

Only three percent of the 70 million refugees worldwide currently have access to higher education. Based on information gathered by the University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants (UARRM) and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, this report showcases several universities working to address this problem. Located in the states of California, Idaho, Texas, and New York, these universities are seeking to overcome barriers to higher education for refugees. The report identifies six action areas to improve refugee access to higher education: media and communications, overcoming barriers, on-campus support, advocacy and awareness, research and publications, and legal pathways. Drawing from semi-structured interviews with representatives of higher education institutions and partner organizations in the United States, the authors suggest that practitioners seeking to support displaced students and scholars on their campuses should cultivate a “whole-institution” vision such as UARRM’s “Action Area” framework for creatively identifying institutional and community assets with the potential to jumpstart or scale initiatives. Citing an example from Idaho, they also assert that the development of initiatives should be participatory in nature. The authors suggest that these case studies be used by stakeholders to inform the creation of similar programs for refuges in other higher education institutions. Furthermore, they suggest that a whole-system, inclusive, evidence-based approach is critical to the success of any initiative in this area. (Stephanie Depauw for The Immigrant Learning Center’s Public Education Institute)

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Kakar, A. & Agbotse, A. (2021, January). Walking the Talk: How University Communities Can Foster Higher Education Opportunities for Refugee Students. University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Students and Presidents’ Alliance for Higher Education and Immigration. https://www.higheredimmigrationportal.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Walking-the-Talk-report.pdf