AACRAO convenes global organizations in support of displaced and vulnerable students

The Syrian conflict has created one of the worst humanitarian crisis modern of times. During this crisis, the U.N. estimates 5 million have fled the country (with thousands fleeing the country every day) and more than 6 million are internally displaced.

With this scene set last fall, AACRAO convened 13 global organizations to address the role of higher education in the middle of this crisis. The group outlined the following problem.


The Problem

Refugees face real problems as they try to (re)enter higher education: missing educational data, lack of information about testing, little clarity as to the transferability of other kinds of learning, and difficulties in sharing documents with relevant higher education officials or scholarship agencies. When refugees possess credentials, they aren’t “official” and can be easily dismissed for bureaucratic reasons or because of concerns about their legitimacy due to the wide circulation of fraudulent documents. But the biggest problem for refugees in this field is explaining who they are as complex people, and who they have continued to become in exile.

The Article 26 Backpack (A26BP) Solution

Each of the participating organizations spent the day outlining the specific challenges they face and paths they use to assist these students. One group, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA), a statutory body in South Africa through which all foreigners must receive certification in order to work or study, hosts 30 percent of all displaced persons in the world and faces qualification verification challenges on a regular basis.

The convening brought to light the common elements these 13 organizations share and highlighted how these commonalities can shape the A26 Backpack, a free service to displaced students that aims to create a platform and a network that will allow the world’s most vulnerable students an opportunity to securely store and access their educational documentation. Read the full convening report.

AACRAO has and will continue to work to lead best practice creation around document reconstruction and assessment for displaced students.  For more information, bookmark the related Trending Topic page.

Join the AACRAO Annual Meeting's Monday public policy plenary Education, Interrupted,” featuring students from Puerto Rico, those affected by DACA, and those in temporary refugee status. This moderated discussion will highlight student stories and showcase effective individual and institutional action steps to support vulnerable students. It should be fascinating and informative.

While at the meeting, attend the Wednesday morning session "Inclusion and Access to Higher Education for Displaced and Vulnerable Persons" to learn more about the A26BP™.

To read more about refugee and other at-risk student populations, check out AACRAO's Student Displacement guide.

Join the free AACRAO Webinar, Tuesday, May 1: Inclusion and Access to Higher Education for Displaced and Vulnerable Persons. AACRAO is offering a live webinar discussing issues in higher education faced by displaced persons through real student experiences and highlighting domestic and global initiatives supporting inclusion and access to higher education, including the Article 26 Backpack™, a UC Davis initiative with which AACRAO is partnering.