Universities and Colleges as Beacons of Welcome for Refugee Students and Families
World Refugee Day presents an opportunity to critically analyse how different institutional actors and leaders are innovating to meet the current demands of migration and refugee protection around the globe. It is an unprecedented time; the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimates more than 82.4 million refugees have been forcibly displaced globally, already outpacing the number of people displaced in World War II. These numbers are expected to rise with myriad of natural and humanitarian disasters – climate change, military conflict, and more. We are now living in a historic moment, where we can reimagine how refugees are protected, resettled and welcomed in different parts of the world.
The higher education sector has played a key role in welcoming and integrating refugees in the communities around the world. Indeed, since August 2021, higher education has already started to transform the landscape of refugee resettlement – stepping into new roles as sponsors or co-sponsors, as many institutions around the world mobilized to leverage their existing resources to provide housing, meals, health, social and legal services, sponsorship, as well as employment– in addition to their traditional roles of enrollment and placement support – to those who fled Afghanistan as it fell to the Taliban. In many instances, we have seen refugee students, scholars and families thrive under the leadership of the higher education champions rather than simply survive.
This Roundtable Event,‘Universities as Beacons of Welcome for Refugees and Forcibly Displaced Persons’, provides an opportunity to share with the international community the growing role that universities are playing as beacons of welcome and inclusion for refugees and forcibly displaced persons. Indeed, in recent years, a growing welcoming movement across universities is helping to transform the landscape of refugee resettlement in Canada, France, Mexico, the U.K., the United States, and elsewhere. Universities are welcoming refugee families on their campuses, serving as ‘community sponsors’ or ‘co-sponsors’, and leveraging their existing resources to provide housing, employment, and social and legal services. This is in addition to the support universities continue to provide to refugee and forcibly displaced students through scholarships and enrollment opportunities, and to refugee and forcibly displaced faculty through special academic appointments. As a result, more refugee students, refugee scholars and refugee families are thriving with the support of higher education champions, rather than simply surviving.
This Roundtable Event will highlight current trends and models of how higher education is supporting refugee welcome and inclusion, and thereby contributing to national refugee resettlement efforts. It will explore how such trends can be supported by refugees, governments, public institutions, and other stakeholders.
9:30 Opening Remarks: Ambassador Marco Suazo, Head, UNITAR New York
Welcome Remarks: Madeline Garlick, UNHCR
9:40 Panel moderated by: Dr. Colleen Thouez, National Association of System Heads and the New School
Dr. Nancy Zimpher, National Association of System Heads (NASH), US
Dr. Diya Abdo, Every Campus a Refuge (ECAR), US
Ms. Andrée Ménard, World University Service of Canada (WUSC), Canada
Dr. Laura Loehac, Programme for the Emergency Reception of Scientists in Exile (PAUSE),
Dr. Bronwyn Parry, Kings Sanctuary Programme, U.K.
Mr. Adrián Melendez, Proyecto Habesha, Mexico
Dr. Hourie Tafech, Guilford College, US
10:40 Questions and Answers
10:55 Closing remarks: Dr. Colleen Thouez, National Association of System Heads and the New School
09:30 am - 11:00 am (EDT)
Points of contact:
- Athena Gana, UNITAR, hannah.gana [at] unitar.org
- Sandra Barron, NASH, sandra [at] nash-dc.org