Arts University Bournemouth students have contributed to a national Design Sprint event looking at tackling issues of social inclusion, continuity of education and learning in refugees fleeing the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. They have pitched their ideas to a group of policy influencers and tech industry leaders from Lenovo, Google and Microsoft.
The AUB group, which included two Ukrainian students, were invited to join politicians, industry experts, tech giants and international educators in examining educational issues raised by the conflict, and societal challenges faced by host nations taking in refugees.
The delegation of three AUB students, drawn from across the university’s undergraduate Interior programmes, were invited to attend the event which was held by Learnit as part of the BETT2022 Conference at the Excel Centre in London.
The BETT2022 Conference is a global community for education technology, showcasing the latest innovations. The principal aim of the three-day conference is to gather education experts from across sectors to spark ideas, create connections and accelerate trade.
Among the solutions put forward were ideas to create local and regional hubs and portals which would enable safe access to resources, equipping newly arrived refugees with vital supplies and community contacts to help ease their arrival in the UK.
Mentoring and pairing schemes were seen as key to developing links between refugees and their home cities, towns, and villages, as well as between refugees and British citizens with similar interests, hobbies, and skills.
The teams also looked at tech-enabled solutions, and use of the classrooms in the metaverse; using virtual spaces and environments to bring together family and friends from home, as well as introducing them to others from across the world.
“At this event, we’re trying to find a way to help refugees, Ukrainian students and people that are suffering from different conflicts that are going on right now,” explained Michelle, an AUB BA (Hons) Animation Production student from Kyiv.
“I’ve had quite a few ideas about collaboration; I’ve been in contact with my friends at home and a lot of them are working online, but schools and universities in Ukraine are missing staff and students are having to try and learn by themselves.”
She added: “Online education is definitely helping, but I think that educators from across the world can help Ukraine by being there for students, especially as mentors when their teachers can’t be there for them.”
Joining the group was BA (Hons) Graphic Design student Tommy Carter, whose final year major project examines how people can be more informed and educated about refugees fleeing war.
Tommy said he is doing lots of research around how people are forcibly displaced by conflict, and how we can expand on the Homes for Ukrainians scheme to make sure it can suit more people.
He added, “I’m also looking at how we can ensure that resources and aid reaches people post-war so that they can return home safely.”
Mike Bond, event co-ordinator, and strategy director at design agency Bond & Coyne invited the University to attend the event. He said: “I believe in the power of design to change things. I’ve been an educator for 18 years and one of my allies in the creative world is AUB.
“We know that there is an ethos that is instilled in AUB students that resonates with what this event is about. I was really keen that, while we had politicians, policy influencers and tech giants in the room with us, we had younger heads in the room too, and it happens that these young people have experience with the issue we are dealing with today around refugee education.
Simon Pride, AUB’s head of marketing and student recruitment, co-ordinated the university’s engagement with the project. He said: “I am so proud of our students. In a bewildering world, their bravery and creativity is a shining light to all of us. A reminder that change is possible.”
Concepts generated by the group will now be put forward to policy makers via the team’s WorkAsOne initiative project, which now invites members of the public to put forward their views and ideas to help support refugee education in the UK.
Read more about workasone at workasone.org.
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