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

As part of an ongoing collaboration to scope what the U.S. higher education community is doing to support refugees and at-risk migrants, the University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants (UARRM) and the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration (the Presidents’ Alliance) released a report entitled, “Walking the Talk: How University Communities Can Foster Higher Education Opportunities for Refugee Students & Scholars.” This report highlights initiatives helping to alleviate barriers to higher education for refugee-background populations within and outside of the United States. These cases can inspire more higher education practitioners to take further action on behalf of displaced students and scholars.

Key recommendations from the report include:

  • Practitioners seeking to support displaced students and scholars on their campuses should cultivate a “whole-institution” vision. UARRM’s “Action Area” framework can be useful for creatively identifying institutional and community assets with potential to jumpstart or scale initiatives.
  • Support the development of holistic mentorship approaches similar to PAIR and Project R to help students gain confidence and critical language skills for transitioning into higher education. Aim to make their time in higher education meaningful, and prepare them for their next steps after graduation.
  • Drawing from the Stanford Refugee Research Project model, it is critical to partner with organizations who provide services to refugee populations, as they have community connections and deeper understanding of needs.
  • Most importantly, the development of initiatives should be participatory. As shown with the Boise State Refugee Alliance (BSRA) and other initiatives highlighted in the report, practitioners should engage local refugee communities in decision-making and project development.
  • Finally, practitioners should engage with universities that have experience serving displaced students and scholars, such as Columbia University. Encourage your institution to build capacity within established networks such as IIE PEER and Scholars At Risk.

If you would like to get involved in our community of activists or want to share an initiative with our network, please reach out to us at info@uarrm.org.

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