Education and job being the top most priority, million of young Syrian have a common question in mind how can they attain university degree? The conventional and accredited university degree would require documentation. Its needless to point out that a refuge will possess all the documents and credentials. The education cost to earn the degree is also a concern for these refugees.
In an initiative to provide higher education to the Syrian youths, some colleges have initiated online degree programs. In this format of education, enrollment process has been made easy. For online colleges for refugees don’t seek detail documentation from the learner. The course offered is free of cost. To facilitate the learner, these online colleges have made e-study materials available for the students. But the accreditation of these degree has raised questions.
Desperate attempt to provide degree
Some online colleges have stepped in to honor Syrian students with the degree. The US-based degree course by the University of the People has recently declared to admit five hundred Syrian refugees including those ‘without documents. Founded in 2009, the University charges 100 US dollars. The cost includes one-time application and course fees. Students who are not capable of bearing the cost can apply for scholarships. The online courses offered by the University are the computer application, business and management studies. The Kiron University of Germany, argues to offers the online international degree for refugees. For enrollment, students have to submit refugee status documents. Refugees who don’t have the credentials can submit certificates stating the refugee application process.
Concern for acknowledged degree
The initiative to provide online education to five hundred Syrian refugees by University of the People has received admiration and applause all over. The bigger question hence arises is- does the degree from University of the People is accredited in Syria? Does this degree hold credence at Syrian education system or by the University? The University of the People is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (formerly Distance Education and Training Council in the United States) but it might not be approved in Syria.
Keith David Watenpaugh, director of human-rights studies and associate professor of human-rights studies at the University of California at Davis says,”Distance learning is difficult in the best of circumstances,”. He adds,”We have to be very cautious in its use against vulnerable populations like Syrian-refugee students’.”
According to Allan E. Goodman, President and chief executive of the Institute of International Education,“The 500 Syrian refugees are clearly going to benefit,”. He said, “Any education that we can provide to this potentially entirely lost generation is going to make the world less dangerous and give them something they can use when the crisis is over.”
Goodman has also pointed out even these online degrees can also pose challenges. He said, But even though large populations of refugees need access to higher education, there’s a problem with using online education to close that gap: Many of the Syrian refugees want a degree that’s recognized by an Arab ministry of education.
Allan insights that “Because they’re refugees, they want to go back home at some point,” he said. “And they’re going to need a credential that’s recognized back home.”
The concern with degree recognition persists
Syrian youth living the refugee life are exposed to the threat for not completing their higher education. The initiative by few colleges and universities to offer the online degree to the refugee students is a noble step. However, the non-accreditation of the degrees is the major reason to worry.
Unconvinced about the half measure
David Watenpaugh says, “how does a university student at a camp in Jordan enforce that kind of relationship?” He said, “I don’t buy the argument,” He said, “that doing something is better than doing nothing.”
The initiative to educate the Syrian youth via online may be an outcome of global vision, aimed to provide livelihood and to put the civil war to an end. But Syrian students uninspired to pursue e-degree from non-recognized Universities or the colleges.