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.
A delegation of three AUB students, drawn from across the university’s undergraduate Interior Architecture Design, Animation and Graphic Design degree 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 in teaching, learning and knowledge exchange. The principal aim of the three-day conference is to gather together education experts from across sectors to spark ideas, create connections and accelerate trade.
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.
Among the solutions put forward to companies including Microsoft and Google, 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.
Michelle, an AUB BA (Hons) Animation Production student from Kiev, said: “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.
“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: “I’m hoping to get a lot more inspiration from today’s conference event, as well as find more areas to look into and build upon for my project work. I’m 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.”
“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’s instilled in AUB students that resonates with what this event is about. I was really keen that, while we have 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 policymakers 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.