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St Mary's Academic to Lead Global Research into Access to Higher Education for Refugees

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Senior Lecturer in Education and Social Science at St Mary’s University, Twickenham Dr Kathleen Fincham has been awarded a grant of £30,000 from the British Council and the United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR), to lead research into higher education provision for Syrian refugees. Dr Fincham is leading a team of country-based researchers to map higher education provision for Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, and conduct qualitative research with refugees aged 18-24 on their access to, interest in and engagement with higher education opportunities in those countries. Outputs from this research will be used to inform higher education policy and programming for Syrian refugees in the region. The team, which includes representatives from the British Council, UNHCR and local research organisations in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, has already begun work mapping higher education programmes for refugees, with in-country qualitative research beginning this month and running until the end of March. Dr Fincham commented, “Since 2011, an estimated 11 million Syrians have fled their homes, and almost five million refugees are living in neighbouring countries. Access to higher education can help refugees to integrate socially and economically into their host communities. Post-conflict, those educated refugees can also play an important role in rebuilding local, national and regional institutions”. In addition to teaching and research, Dr Fincham's professional experience includes programme and project management, policy analysis, partner coordination and advocacy with education institutions, governments, bilaterals, multi-laterals (UNHCR, UNICEF, UNGEI) and international non-governmental organisations including: Oxfam Novib; WUSC; Save the Children; and the British Council. Her research interests centre on the sociology and politics of education and learning, particularly within the contexts of developing countries and conflict-affected environments. Dr Fincham holds a DPhil in Education and Development from the University of Sussex, and an MSc in Gender and Development from the London School of Economics. St Mary’s unique Postgraduate Programme, titled: Education, Culture and Society, provides students with the opportunity to study in a stimulating research-informed environment. The programme is taught by lecturers, including Dr Fincham, who are experts in their fields and draws on cross-cultural and global perspectives. Students have the opportunity, in theory and in practice, to critically reflect on their own working practices.
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