Ahead of World Refugee Day, More than 150+ Higher Education Leaders Sign New Statement of Support for Refugees and Displaced Students
Posted: June 17, 2022
Modified: October 17, 2022
Posted: June 17, 2022
Modified: October 17, 2022
AHEAD OF WORLD REFUGEE DAY, MORE THAN 150+ HIGHER EDUCATION LEADERS SIGN NEW STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FOR REFUGEES AND DISPLACED STUDENTS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 16, 2022
CONTACT: Jose Magaña-Salgado, 480-678-0040, jose@
Washington, D.C.—A new statement signed by more than 150 higher education leaders and institutions highlights their support for students and scholars fleeing from violence and humanitarian crises. Ahead of World Refugee Day on June 20, the new statement of support represents a call to action by colleges and universities to support refugees and displaced students and scholars worldwide. The new statement also voices support for “our nation doing more to relieve the plight of those impacted by events beyond their control” and urges the Biden administration to “advance policies that are inclusive, equitable, and durable,” specifically recommending that the administration:
According to Miriam Feldblum, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration: “As we watch international crises displace individuals around the globe, including in Afghanistan and now in Ukraine, we are heartened by the enthusiasm of higher education leaders to support displaced and refugee students and scholars. We are encouraged, as well, by the Biden Administration’s embrace of university sponsorship of refugee students as one of the components of private sponsorship, and a transformative opportunity for colleges and universities and refugee students.”
According to University at Albany President Havidán Rodríguez: “Colleges and universities often talk about internationalization in terms of partnerships with prestigious overseas universities, but it also means opening our doors to those fleeing violence and instability abroad. I am proud to be part of the Presidents’ Alliance’s efforts to bring the higher education community together as one voice—raising awareness and advocating for policies that will allow us to maximize our support of refugees and displaced students and scholars.” President Rodríguez, along with UAlbany professor Rey Koslowski, also published a new op-ed in the Albany Times-Union: “Universities should play greater role in supporting refugees.”
According to Bwema Matata, a displaced student leader born in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and now a Master’s degree candidate at Columbia University: “As we approach World Refugee Day, a day that is celebrated by refugees worldwide, I will be celebrating in the US for the first time, as a student of social work at Columbia University. My prayer this year is that the institutions of higher learning in the United States accept more refugee students because education empowers them with the knowledge and skills to live productive, fulfilling and independent lives. In addition to being a basic right, without the chance to study, we risk losing an entire generation of children whose education and future is in our hands.”
Over the past year, there have been important steps forward toward realizing the goal of a new private sponsorship initiative, including a higher education pathway. In May, the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) at the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced a private sponsorship pilot program to launch later this calendar year.
Last November, the Presidents’ Alliance and partners helped launch the RESPONSE Campaign: College and University Sponsorship of Refugee Students, to build support for a new college and university refugee sponsorship program among higher education audiences, and released a report with recommendations for the United States to develop, implement, and sustain a university sponsorship program for refugee students. The report reflected a six-month process led by the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Global Task Force on Third Country Education Pathways, and the University Alliance for Refugees and at-Risk Migrants along with its Student Voices for Refugees network.
The full content of the new statement of support is pasted below and a list of the 152 signers is viewable online HERE:
“The war in Ukraine and the resulting humanitarian crisis have accelerated a call to action by colleges and universities to support refugees and displaced students worldwide. We strongly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The war has not only caused thousands of civilian deaths and forced millions of Ukrainians to flee, but also has led thousands of Russians to seek safety from their repressive regime, including those in academia. While the tragedy is acute in Ukraine, unfortunately it is not unique to that country. Students, academics, and their families from numerous countries throughout the world continue to seek refuge and relief while international students and scholars attending U.S. universities and colleges struggle to make ends meet and keep up their studies while their home countries are in turmoil. We express solidarity with all of these impacted students and scholars currently on our campuses and stand eager to welcome scholars and enroll additional students seeking education and safety.
We support our nation doing more to relieve the plight of those impacted by events beyond their control. We applaud the administration for implementing policies that ensure that students and scholars from impacted countries are provided key lifesaving and educational protections. We urge the administration to advance policies that are inclusive, equitable, and durable:
These measures are an opportunity for the United States to stand by its values and will significantly expand the United States’ humanitarian reach by enabling U.S. colleges and universities to play a key role in accelerating displaced and refugee students’ higher education access and success. We in higher education stand ready to meet this moment to address the urgent challenges facing fleeing and displaced students and scholars.”
The nonpartisan, nonprofit Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration brings college and university presidents and chancellors together on the immigration issues that impact higher education, our students, campuses, communities and nation. We work to advance just immigration policies and practices at the federal, state, and campus level that are consistent with our heritage as a nation of immigrants and the academic values of equity and openness. The Alliance is composed of over 500 presidents and chancellors of public and private colleges and universities, enrolling over five million students in 43 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico.