SNHU’s Global Education Movement (GEM) works with proven, on-the-ground partners to offer higher education programs for students affected by crisis and forced displacement, providing bachelor’s degrees at no cost to refugees and pathways to quality employment.
The Audacious Project – a funding collaborative housed at TED – provided initial seed funding in 2017 to enable SNHU to pilot its refugee program in Lebanon, South Africa, Kenya and Malawi, while continuing to grow in Rwanda.
In 2020, ahead of World Refugee Day, GEM was recognized at TED2020 for its effort to make higher education accessible to refugees around the world.
Refugees are among the most profoundly disempowered groups in the world. With more than 70 million people displaced worldwide, entire generations are spending their lives in camps and urban areas without access to opportunities to improve their futures. Many refugees are denied even basic rights and entitlements, all while being subject to policies created by those who have never experienced displacement. Refugees are unable to access high-level career and leadership roles that would enable them to influence the policies that shape their own lives and the futures of their communities.
Refugees have access to higher education
Among Ugandan refugee populations, each additional year of primary and secondary education corresponds with average income increases of 3.3%. In comparison, each additional year of tertiary education results in an increase of 27%.
– Oxford Refugee Studies Center
“For refugees around the world, higher education serves as a beacon of hope,” says Chrystina Russell, Senior Vice President, SNHU and Executive Director of the Global Education Movement. “At SNHU, we’re proud to serve thousands of displaced learners and know that empowering students to grow their strengths will create a more stable, safe and prosperous world for us all.”
GEM provides refugees and displaced communities with the opportunity to pursue a US-accredited BA or AA degree at no cost to learners. More than this, they also work to support refugee students to overcome the obstacles they face in accessing these opportunities, including issues related to politics, health, security and family and childcare.
GEM employs a blended-learning model that combines self-paced digital learning with on-site instructors, psychosocial support, and internships deployed through local partners. This provides students with the necessary flexibility to navigate the challenges of refugee lives.
In addition to the programs in Lebanon, South Africa, Kenya, Malawi and Rwanda, they are also planning to scale their solution to 15 countries over the next five years, in an attempt to enable more than 16,000 refugees across 23 sites to improve their futures.
THE RESULTS SO FAR
Graduation rate of GEM students
GEM graduates find employment
BA degree graduates since 2018
AA degree graduates since 2018
WATCH THE TED TALK
Watch the 5-minute TED Talk to hear directly from students and the program’s executive director, Chrystina Russell, about how GEM’s flexible, competency-based model sets graduates up for success and empowerment wherever they are.