GEM HUB UPDATES
The GEM Hub (formerly the Rwanda Assessment Center) provides vital support to students across all GEM sites and helps reduce the per-student cost of attaining a degree through SNHU by over 50%.
SNHU degree cost reduction per student
This year, the GEM Hub transitioned from operating solely as a cost-savings initiative to functioning as both a cost-savings and a revenue-generating initiative. Now, the GEM Hub is beginning to generate vital, self-sustaining revenue to support GEM students and related program operations. The GEM Hub is making this transition by expanding its service offerings and making these offerings available to internal SNHU clients and external clients.
THE ASSESSMENT CENTER
IN KIGALI, RWANDA
In 2018, GEM designed and built-out the space for its assessment center in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, and hired highly qualified local faculty assessors using the same standards, practices and protocols that SNHU uses for all its faculty assessors in the United States.
In only two years, the GEM Hub has become the predominant source for assessing the competency-based projects of GEM students.
Assessment services GEM Hub provides for GEM students
During its operations, the GEM Hub has dramatically reduced the cost of degree assessment for GEM students – a significant driver of overall degree cost – by over 50%. GEM accomplished this cost reduction by implementing “social impact sourcing” as its hiring protocol. Social impact sourcing is a business practice that prioritizes hiring qualified candidates who might not otherwise have access to positions of formal employment, for example, refugees and former refugees.
GEM also implemented quality controls to ensure that the standards and consistency of all services provided by the GEM Hub – such as reviews and degree assessments – meet or exceed those of SNHU and its accrediting body.
A GROWING SERVICE OFFERING
This year, the GEM Hub has expanded its service offerings to provide assessment services for U.S.-based students at SNHU and One Summer Chicago. This Chicago-based, city-run program serves inner-city high school learners and operates the largest summer employment program for youth in the United States. The GEM Hub also added student support services, such as tutoring and academic workshops.
Furthermore, the GEM Hub expanded its service offerings to provide instructional design, curriculum development and IT support services. More specifically, the GEM Hub collaborated with U.S.-based SNHU teams on the design and development of a U.S.-accredited associate degree in IT that will be made available to both U.S. and global students, including refugee students.
Additionally, the GEM Hub is collaborating with the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre to design and develop a custom course entitled “Introduction to Refugee and Forced Migration Studies.” The course draws upon the expertise of the GEM Hub related to:
Specialized learning technologies
Developing and curating content
Creating formative and summative assessment strategies
Overcoming student accessibility challenges
THE SECOND HUB
IN CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
GEM recently opened a second hub in Cape Town, South Africa. This new GEM Hub South Africa will create the opportunity to expand the GEM faculty talent pools to serve more students through a wider variety of programs. Beyond sheer growth, the GEM Hub South Africa will also help to further diversify the GEM talent pool and geographic distribution, and mitigate potential risks to the availability of the workforce in our other regions where unanticipated crises can emerge quickly and without notice.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the GEM Hub quickly transitioned to an all-remote work environment. Before the pandemic, the GEM Hub work already mainly took place online, so the logistics of the transition were straightforward. This shift did not meaningfully impact the student experience – all GEM Hub operations were fully functional within 48 hours of the transition. The GEM Hub team continues to engage in regular team activities remotely. Also, since the start of the pandemic, GEM has hired and conducted its first fully remote onboarding of a cohort of reviewers in Rwanda and Cape Town.
Since its inception, the GEM Hub has been extremely successful in lowering degree costs while providing high-quality competency assessments for GEM students.
The GEM Hub has provided meaningful employment opportunities to qualified local personnel and quickly adapted to the new challenges of remote work posed by the pandemic.
Looking ahead, the GEM Hub will continue to play a vital role in supporting GEM students by continuing to lower degree costs and generating new revenue.
SMART GROWTH STRATEGY
2018 – 2020
Over the past two years, GEM’s model has demonstrated the potential to transform the lives of refugees and other marginalized communities in Africa and the Middle East.
2020 – 2022
As we look ahead to the next two years, we aim to establish a sustainable business model that will drive our future growth. It’s GEM’s goal to lower its reliance on philanthropic support to 30% by the end of 2022.
This growth strategy leverages the GEM Hub Rwanda, which provides high-quality assessments of students’ academic work for both international and U.S. learners. The recently-opened GEM Hub South Africa will further support this strategy.
To reach our sustainability targets, we have identified two primary methods for growing and diversifying the GEM Hub business model:
Actively hire and use the talents of faculty in other parts of the world, allowing them to work with GEM remotely
Explore opening another assessment center
While the success of the GEM Hub in lowering degree costs is critical, it is the potential of the Hub to cover costs for GEM’s core programs that will help it to sustain and grow GEM’s impact.