Forging alliances with universities and educational authorities.
The Advisory Council on Forced Migration for Higher Education Institutions project is a visionary initiative of DIME that seeks to achieve a threefold goal: to empower young refugees by increasing their opportunities of accessing higher education while fostering intercultural dialogue and internationalization of higher education institutions (HEIs) in Mexico. At its core, this project is about breaking down barriers to open up opportunities – not just for young refugees but for the higher education landscape as a whole.
We believe that true progress can only be achieved through fruitful dialogue across cultures and by building bridges of understanding. At the same time, by encouraging internationalization of higher education institutions, we can create a truly global community of learners. By bringing together diverse students and scholars from around the world, we can foster collaboration, share knowledge, and create new opportunities for growth and innovation, thus building a more inclusive and connected world, one where everyone has the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive.
Global action initiatives such as the Global Task Force on Third Country Education Pathways (GTF) identify higher education institutions as having a key role in achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Intercultural learning environments are excellent arenas for fostering respect and appreciation of differences. This can contribute to more welcoming, enriching, and resilient societies that are better able to overcome structural barriers that perpetuate inequality.
Although enrollment numbers are slowly improving, much remains to be done to ensure that both more young refugees and entire host societies reap the benefits of responsive and intercultural higher education. DIME’s work therefore supports the Global Compact of Refugees’ Program of Action, which aims to “expand and enhance the quality and inclusiveness of national education systems to facilitate access” to tertiary education (UNHCR).
Interculturality in academic contexts is more than the coexistence of different cultures. It is also an active integration of diverse knowledges, contexts, and experiences into the classroom to create a richer learning environment, which has been shown to promote the culture of peace and academic success across the curriculum. To facilitate such changes, the Advisory Council project expands and strengthens the extensive network of our allied higher education institutions in Mexico in order to bring tangible benefits of cultural diversity and engagement to university communities.
Internationalization is one of such benefits: the demand for more international HIEs is accelerated by the need to contribute to addressing global societal challenges and goals. It is also becoming increasingly marked in the institutional priorities in the Global South, where it is being used not only as a strategic approach but also as an expression of increased regionalization and South-South cooperation. The international dimension of universities requires better integration of global, regional, national and local dimensions, especially given the intense competition for funding, talent and spaces in global rankings.
When higher education institutions, with support from DIME, promote interculturality, they strengthen their own locally-rooted capacities and play an active role in responding to changing societies and the world as a space of global diversity that reflects a growing demand for internationalization and incorporation of different kinds of knowledge than those to which we are used to.
Complementing the work of a range of governmental, regional, and international entities, including refugee advocates, UN and nongovernmental organizations, and the private sector, DIME’s Advisory Council on Forced Migration for Higher Education Institutions channels and strengthens the capacities and resources of higher education institutions in Mexico.
DIME currently has 21 established partnerships with public and private higher education institutions in eight states of Mexico, which not only allow us to continue offering scholarships to young refugee students from around the world admitted to our Higher Education for Refugees program, but also provide a number of enriching opportunities for the higher education community at large. By promoting inclusion and intercultural dialogue through our agreements with the authorities, DIME supports internationalization on campus and the co-creation of new knowledge, offers participation in workshops, conferences and training for university students and staff, and mobilizes students through opportunities for professional internships, social services, and other activities.
The methodology of the project is based on the following main elements:
Higher Education Institutions in Mexico are currently the largest contributors to DIME’s Higher Education for Refugees program. By demonstrating the tangible benefits that such support brings to the universities’ own learning environments, our Welcoming Communities team is continually working to sign and renew existing agreements in order to continue providing scholarships to refugee students from DIME.
With the goal of supporting Mexico’s Higher Education Institutions in their efforts to become more dynamic and globally recognized spaces for learning, cultivate competitive talent, and strengthen opportunities for cooperation in the Global South, the team at DIME offers its experience-based support and advice on best practices and ways forward in internationalization strategies that are most appropriate for each context.
We do this by leveraging our extensive civil society networks and expertise as a locally informed humanitarian organization, which allows us to provide a high level of credibility and support to university authorities. The agreements between DIME and the universities ensure specific commitments from both parties and provide a solid foundation for accountability, longevity, and responsiveness to the specific needs of the university and its academic community.
Mexican Higher Education Institutions that wish to become members of the Advisory Council on Forced Migration commit to promoting the values of intercultural dialogue and internationalization in their actions. DIME, in turn, commits to:
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