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Universities as Agents of Change in Humanitarian Crises: An Event Reflection



FGHR hosted a selection of panellists at the University of Edinburgh on the 22nd June for a moderated Q&A and a follow on workshop on the topics of the responsibilities and obligations of the university as an agent of change in humanitarian crises and the role that students can and should have in the efforts of universities when dealing with humanitarian crises.


In attendance as a panellist was Siobhán Coskeran, from Student Action for Refugees (STAR). In her role at STAR, Siobhán coordinates national campaigns for the NGO, with a particular focus on improving access to university for people from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds in the UK. Also in attendance as a panellist was Sarah Hoey, the University of Edinburgh’s lead for refugee, asylum and at-risk scholar support work and chair for the university’s Refugee, Asylum Seeker and At Risk Advisory Group.


A central focal point to the discussion was setting out the scope of the moral obligations that universities and higher education institutions should have in the face of humanitarian crises. Both panellists highlighted that in-depth conservations on this matter are becoming increasingly common across all areas of university administration and emphasised the behind the scenes work of the services and support for displaced students which are already put in place or are in the process of being put into place by universities. This led to engaging conservation between the panellists and audience as to how best to inform students on the provisions and assistance that exists and how to increase student involvement in these ongoing projects. As a final point and in response to audience questions, both panellists considered how universities can ensure that the passion and motivation from students and opportunities for the student body voice to be heard are consistently maintained in a fluid student body which by nature has a high and constant turnover.


We’d like to extend a huge thank you to both our panellists and audience for their time and engaging discussion, which will be of significant benefit to ongoing work at FGHR on the subject of the responsibilities and obligations of the university as an agent of change in humanitarian crises.

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