NEW BRUNSWICK, NEW JERSEY – July 23, 2018 – Based on the longstanding ideal that universities can offer legal pathways to work and study for displaced and threatened students and scholars, the University Alliance for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants (UARRM) launched on July 23rd at a daylong symposium hosted by the Rutgers Global and Rutgers Graduate School, Newark (GSN). UARRM is centered on providing higher education opportunities and vocational training for refugees and at-risk migrants, and engaging with the forthcoming Global Compacts for Migration and Refugees.
UARRM was spearheaded by GSN with the leadership of 11 Steering Committee members. Rutgers University is among the most generous and consistent partners of IIE Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF). To date, the university has hosted and co-funded eight IIE-SRF fellows from six countries.
GSN Dean Kyle Farmbry chairs UARRM with support from dedicated Rutgers graduate students Jane Roche and Hourie Tafech. As co-chair, IIE-SRF Director Sarah Willcox represents IIE’s emergency initiatives, including IIE PEER and the IIE Artist Protection Fund. In the opening panel of the symposium, “Reducing Barriers to Higher Education Opportunities for Refugees and At-Risk Migrants,” Ms. Willcox discussed the history and structure of IIE’s programs, and shared ways in which alliance members can partner with IIE to host scholars and artists, as well as provide financial and academic support to students facing emergencies. Additionally, she emphasized the importance of humanizing at-risk scholars and students when working together to find and acclimate them to new academic homes.
Quoting an IIE-SRF fellow from Yemen, she called for host institutions to “think of creative ways to engage students and scholars … those connections can go a long way” to help ensure that students and scholars are fully integrated and prepared for the road ahead. On the topic of IIE-SRF’s – and UARRM’s – impact on the academic community, Ms. Willcox explained, “We do not contribute to brain drain, instead we protect scholars for continued collaboration at their host institutions and back in their home countries.”
This groundbreaking meeting featured speakers representing a range of innovative programming, research, and policymaking at local, state, and international levels. Distinguished experts included Suzanne Sheldon, Senior Policy Advisor, International Organization for Migration; Miriam Feldblum, Co-Founder, Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration; Diya Abdo, Founder, Every Campus a Refuge; Maria Höhn, Faculty Director, Consortium on Forced Migration, Displaced, and Higher Education; Bernhard Streitwieser, Assistant Professor, George Washington University; Tim Raphael, Director, Newest Americans – Rutgers-Newark; and Colleen Thouez, Director, Welcoming and Integration Division at the Open Society Foundations.