I have been working recently on a project being funded by the Mastercard Foundation and the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh which is attempting to build pathways into higher education for refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon and Uganda. Globally, roughly 3% of refugees have access to higher education so there are a variety of initiatives worldwide designed to begin to address that, of which ours would be one. We are partnering in this initiative with the Refugee Law Project at Makerere University in Uganda and the American University of Beirut in Lebanon.

This project will provide insights to the Mastercard Foundation (and other key stakeholders) on how to effectively facilitate access to and future success in higher education for displaced and refugee young people in resource-poor environments through contextualised online distance learning bridging programs.

Specifically, it will focus on:

  1. developing and demonstrating the use of a shareable toolkit that includes:
    1. Scoping Tool for effective assessment of the needs and capacities of refugees and displaced young people in relation to accessing and succeeding in higher education, including existing pathways, requirements, and obstacles;
    2. a Design Framework for the development of supported blended learning interventions for and with displaced youth that take into account the relevant barriers and facilitators in the local context as well as the specific psycho-social support needs of the target population;
    3. a case study of a blended bridging program in Lebanon; and
    4. a case study of a blended bridging program in Uganda (which will be piloted as part of the action research); and
  2. piloting and assessing a blended learning bridging program, ‘Foundations for All’, for refugees and displaced youth with the goal of enabling their subsequent access to and success in tertiary education in Uganda and/or Scotland.

I am involved in a variety of these, particularly around developing the blending learning modules and developing a tutor training mechanism for those delivering this foundation programme in Lebanon and Uganda. Pastoral support is critical to this sort of initiative so we are exploring ways in which to incorporate such support based on the data we collected and are analyzing currently from our trip to Lebanon last August.

UNHCR data
UNHCR (2019). https://www.unhcr.org/figures-at-a-glance.html

By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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