What can exiled professors offer to students?


Thousands of exiled professors skills could be harnessed to assist displaced people through education and training. Oula Abu Amsha a Syrian Computer Science and Applied Mathematics professor shares her ideas around an International learning community of displaced refugees. In Interruptions, New Perspectives on Migration 

Drawing from personal experiences after leaving Syria, following 12 years at the Higher Institute for Applied Sciences and Technology in Damascus. She encourages us to consider what exiled professors can offer to students.

Moving to a new country required her to find new networks and resources. One digital resource is linked to the interdisciplinary publication The Journal of Interrupted Studies. A publication dedicated to publishing complete and incomplete articles by academics who have had their work interrupted as a result of forced migration.

In 2017 Oula Abu Amsha shared her ideas at a UNESCO  event.  Where a focus was placed on considering the intersection of technology and education. While she encourages us to consider three reasons to harness the skills from thousands of exiled academics.

  1. ‘They have knowledge of the educational system and the needs of the students’
  2. ‘They possess a sense of duty and commitment’
  3. ‘Capacity building for post-conflict Syria’

The UNESCO event considered how to ‘maximize the use of cheap and widely available mobile technologies for the education of refugees and other displaced persons.’ Experts and practitioners of education considered the educational needs of displaced people who had exceeded 65 million in 2015.

What resources are available to help exiled academics?

Exiled professors often become ‘asylum seekers, refugees or even illegal residents and most of the time jobless like any other person fleeing their country.’ Interruptions, New Perspectives on Migration

The Jamiya project provided Oula Abu Amsha with a network to explore her career in new ways. As part of the team for this UK based charity, she works with the refugee community and universities. Along with local NGOs and education technology to improve higher education opportunities for refugees. 

Founded by Ben Webster who previously worked at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Syria crisis team in Jordan, the UK Foreign Office, and Transparency International. This project highlights how ‘100,000 young Syrians in the Middle East cannot access higher education and training’. Jamiya works with the refugee community to co-design innovative models of education.

A number of organisations assist exiled academics through fellowships and professional development as they build lives in new countries. Scholars at Risk is an international network of institutions and individuals whose mission it is to protect scholars and promote academic freedom.

Integration through participation

Technology facilitates exiled academics and students to ‘form a global virtual community to share knowledge. A European agenda for the integration of third-country nationals report considers how  ‘education is one of the cornerstones of migrant integration in the EU, as it not only has the potential to provide adequate skills to be successful in the labour market but also contributes to the active participation of migrants through the exchange of cultural values.’

Thousands of exiled academics skills could be used to contribute to this. A Eurostat report also considers how the flow of migrants has led to new skills being introduced into local economies. This has increased cultural diversity.

The integration of migrants, is a ‘key area for policy focus, with measures to prepare immigrants and their descendants so they may be more active participants in society, for example, through education and training.’ Eurostat

Integration policies have been developed in Europe to facilitate language learning, access to employment ‘education and vocational training and the fight against discrimination, which all aim at increasing migrants’ participation in society’. European Commission

Recognising that the recruitment of migrants as teachers ‘ may also be used both to encourage learning in classes with a concentration of migrants and as a means of further opening national education systems to other European and non-European cultures. ‘ European Commission

Oula Abu Amsha emphasizes how ‘educational technologies, online learning, and modern communications make it possible to involve people everywhere and distances and frontiers are no longer an excuse.’ Interruptions, New Perspectives on Migration

Read More of Oula Abu Amsha in Interruptions New Perspectives on Migration



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