Monday, November 19, 2018 | ePaper

Universities and their duty to help refugees

  • Print


Mark Charlton :
A global network of universities is helping to create positive change for the experiences of refugees and migrant families. On June 7, scholars and students travelled to the United Nations HQ in New York to share how they are supporting refugees - and how small actions can make a big difference.
Having run support projects for local Leicester refugees through our community engagement program #DMUlocal, De Montfort University was asked by the UN to coordinate a global network of universities committed to encouraging a positive attitude on migration, share strategies on supporting refugees on campuses and most importantly - take action.
We have taken the lead in the higher education sector as advocates of the UN's Together campaign, which aims to create a global support network for refugees worldwide. Our goal? To involve universities and encourage them to use their ample resources to support refugees in their local areas.
To launch the work, De Montfort University held a summit at the UN headquarters back in January with over 600 students and representatives from universities around the world. Here, we discussed the small-scale ways students and their universities could begin to support refugees in their own communities. Nine other universities from countries including Germany, China, America and Cyprus made the trip and shared their inspiring stories.
All universities involved in our campaign commit to working with refugee communities in their local regions to solve a particular issue that has been highlighted, such as access to legal advice and opportunities for work.
Their projects are then shared through the #JoinTogether network, resulting in successful ideas being replicated worldwide - a powerful demonstration of how higher education institutions can be a force for good, not only in their respective communities, but globally as well.
On June 7, Universities #JoinTogether held its first six-month progress meeting at the United Nations headquarters in New York to share success stories and ideas - with leaders voting for the projects they want to bring to their campuses.
This conference focused on the campaign's evolution to champion the UN's 17 Sustainable Development Goals, with a specific emphasis on SDG 16 to promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
We welcomed new universities and have now expanded to include 38 universities and a number of international university associations - creating a global conversation of more than 200 higher education institutions.
The conference voted to implement two programs: one conceived by The University of Pennsylvania promoting high-quality job opportunities for refugees at its institution and with partners, and another from Amsterdam University College, aiming to provide better access to education for refugees. Additional programs highlighted were:
·    Universidad de Jaén (Spain): Here, academics and students have been able to support those who are vulnerable not only as refugees, but also because they belong to at-risk ethnic groups, or because of their sexual orientation or religion.
· Every Campus A Refuge at Guilford College (US): By welcoming refugees to their new homes, participating students learn about forced displacement, refugee resettlement and the lives of immigrants. They help organise housing, transport, translation services and meals for new arrivals.
· Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece): The university runs a programme of psychological support and help in accessing health and legal advice.
· The University of Massachusetts in Boston's Refugees Welcome: This non-profit organization focuses on bringing together refugee service providers. Its mission is to provide a platform for refugee organizations, advocate for the expansion of refugee services, and fill any financial gaps.
I am proud of the work accomplished so far and optimistic about the difference it will make in the days and years to come. Changing the narrative around those who have been displaced is a key part of our action charter and one campus, with its resources and brainpower, can make a big difference.
The #JoinTogether network has already grown considerably in a short span of time, but there is still much work to be done. Through organized efforts, higher education truly can make a difference to those who most need it.
(Mark Charlton is responsible for leading DMU's work with the community and has overseen the university's leadership of the #JoinTogether campaign).

More News For this Category

Skills to be a fashion industry manager

Skills to be a fashion industry manager

Alyssa Walker :If you are into fashion and business, the multibillion dollar industry of fashion management is the path for you. Fashion marketing managers have the huge yet exciting

Definition of kilogram set to change

Definition of kilogram set to change

Pallab Ghosh :Scientists are set to change the way the kilogram is defined. Currently, it is defined by the weight of a platinum-based ingot called "Le Grand K" which

Mental health crisis in graduate education

Mental health crisis in graduate education

Joanna Hughes :Stress and anxiety are not new phenomena for students. However, according to a recent article published in the academic journal Nature Biotechnology, there is evidence of a

Make the most of your laptop as a student

Laptop learning has gotten a bad rap lately. A growing body of evidence indicates that using devices, including laptops, tablets, and phones, during class may lead to everything from bad

Why jewelry designers are studying in Rome

Studying jewelry design is a creative and sophisticated way to transform your passion into a career. The profession requires a real level-up from your regular jewelry making practice: the development

Enhancing teaching effectiveness

Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :There are factors and principles for enhancing effectiveness. Evaluating teaching is a prime factor for teaching effectiveness. Each year faculty members in institutions of higher education

DIU to observe Global Entrepreneurship Week

Campus Report :Daffodil International University (DIU) is going to observe Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2018 through week-long program from 12-17 November. Project Director of A2i Project of PMO will inaugurate

Do people more accurately perceive their own intelligence?

Do people more accurately perceive their own intelligence?

Joanna Hughes :We've all heard the expression, "Men are from Mars and women are from Venus." However, according to recent research published in the journal, Advances in Physiology Education,

Should comics be allowed in school library?

Should comics be allowed in school library?

Ramisa Maliha Bhuiyan :Comics have always been a controversial issue. Some people are vehemently against these, while others are all for these. I belong to the latter group, and

Language and literature in public opinion

Language and literature in public opinion

Dr. Forqan Uddin Ahmed :Journalism is devoted to purveying to the readers news and views which are mainly political, economic and social. It is a very powerful medium of