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Evaluating the effectiveness of student-record systems in conflict-affected universities in northwest Syria relative to student transition and mobility

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Muhammed Assaf, Abdulkarim Lakmes, Mohamad Gazy Alobaidy, Feras Shabou, Wael Ahmad, Miassar Alhasan, Fuad Trayek, Leonie Ansems De Vries

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100128
JournalInternational Journal of Educational Research Open
Volume3
Early online date22 Jan 2022
DOIs
Accepted/In press16 Jan 2022
E-pub ahead of print22 Jan 2022

King's Authors

Abstract

More than a decade of conflict has disrupted all sectors across Syria, including the higher education (HE) sector, depriving much of a generation of Syrian youth of access to HE in areas to which they have been displaced. This research sought to evaluate the effectiveness of student-record systems in facilitating student transition and mobility both inside Syria and beyond, focusing on two universities in the conflict-affected northwest to which the greatest number have been displaced. A mixed-method approach was adopted, combining a student survey (370 respondents), two student focus groups, and six interviews with staff (academic and administrative) from the two study universities. Results revealed a total absence of mobility opportunities due primarily to the universities’ lack of international recognition, as well as financial limitations. The adoption of hardcopy student-record systems due the lack of finance and skills to support digitisation, coupled with a lack of standardised practices across universities in the northwest, whether study-related or other, clearly constrained student transition. Most respondents had little knowledge of transition processes or of alternative integrated-institution-wide-record systems. In a world where robust efficient digitised systems are central international recognition, many students still favoured hardcopy documents, not least as a requirement of employment to help mitigate forgery. Hardcopy systems did not provide students with direct access to essential documentation, creating delays and costs, and the need for in-person transaction in an area of continued insecurity with Government universities actively obstructing transition to non-government universities. Although both study universities are looking to modernise, current limitations continue to negatively affect transition and mobility opportunities.

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