Academics meet to declare support for universities hit by conflict

Professor hopes York Accord will see institutions take in one student and one academic displaced by violence each year

July 17, 2015
Iraq war conflict gun
Source: iStock

Academics from around the world are set to gather at the University of York today to declare a commitment to protect and rebuild higher education shattered by conflict.

The meeting comes in the wake of a string of violent attacks on academic institutions worldwide, most recently in April, when 147 people were killed by al-Shabab militants who attacked Garissa University College in Kenya.

In Iraq, almost 500 academics have been killed and campuses have been looted, burned or destroyed in post-war violence.

The York Accord, launched in partnership with the Brookings Doha Center and the Institute of International Education, is designed to bring together key individuals who have played a major role in drawing attention to the importance of higher education in war-torn countries.

Academics will discuss how to respond to the challenges that higher education faces in conflict-affected countries and will consider how best to contribute to recovery.

Sultan Barakat, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, said that he hopes the accord will lead to a quota agreement, with universities accepting two scholarships a year to support one student and one academic displaced by conflict.

“That’s all it takes to show a degree of solidarity. We would like to set up a structure that helps those universities organise their efforts,” he said.

“Now it is all very ad hoc. A lot of it is driven by the goodwill of individual institutions, but it doesn’t add up to much.”

He added: “My hope is that universities can really stand by those which are affected by conflict in a way that demonstrates an awareness of their circumstances, but also an understanding of the potential that exists for proper and mutual collaboration.”

Koen Lamberts, vice-chancellor of York, said: “The situation is extremely hazardous in many countries. Without a functioning and thriving higher education system, societies cannot progress towards peace and prosperity while entire generations of leadership are lost.”

Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal and laureate of the first United Nations Nelson Mandela Prize, will speak at the event about the global efforts to protect and rebuild higher education. He has been leading efforts to rescue Syrian students and place them in universities after the collapse of the country’s education system.

Allan Goodman, president of the Institute of International Education, will also be present, and he will receive an honorary degree from York.

Sansom Milton, a research fellow at York’s Post-war Reconstruction and Development Unit, said: “This meeting is focusing on rebuilding. This is long-term and has a forward-looking element which has been missing in a lot of discussions around higher education and conflict.”

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

A face made of numbers looks over a university campus

From personalising tuition to performance management, the use of data is increasingly driving how institutions operate

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy