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The Centre for the Study of Global Human Movement


This research panel will present the insights from a selection of stakeholders involved in widening participation in higher education for students with refugee backgrounds in Malaysia. Each have been involved in the development of the CERTE programme (Connecting and Equipping Refugees to Tertiary Education), a short, intensive knowledge transfer programme with the aim of improving student knowledge about higher education opportunities available and the skills required to gain access. To date, the CERTE programme has completed 7 cohorts of students, numbering over 107 in total with 19 successfully entering tertiary programmes. The members of the panel will discuss how CERTE and associated programmes work together to overcome the structural barriers encountered by students, discuss ongoing challenges and reflect on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The session will allow 10 mins for each panellist followed by 30 mins for Q&A (80 mins total).

Please register for the Zoom meeting here 


Moderator: Jonathan Birtwell

Bio: Jonathan is a PhD student at the university of Cambridge researching access to higher education for youth with refugee backgrounds in Malaysia. His research uses learner identity as a theoretical lens to explore the dynamics of agency and recognition in the choices students make about their education and the impact this has on their trajectories towards higher education. He spent 18 months in Malaysia working with a refugee learning centre as the academic coordinator and is a member of the steering group and curriculum sub-committee for the CERTE programme.




Amna Shah – CERTE Alumni

Bio: Born and raised in Pakistan, she has been in Malaysia since 2014. She has accomplished a B.Sc (Hons) Biomedical Science Degree from the University of Nottingham. Apart from the Best Research Project & Best Research Proposal Pitch Award, she was honoured to be the Valedictorian of the class of 2020 of the School of Pharmacy at the University of Nottingham. She is also a CERTE Alumni from the initial pilot project. She is now the Program Coordinator of CERTE (Connecting & Equipping Refugees with Tertiary Education). She is also a teacher at Dignity for Children Foundation. This teaching career has cemented many positive virtues in her. Instilling a love for education and character building is a significant part of her job which also has deepened her passion for education. Besides this, she actively participates in her community. She is serving as the General Secretariat & the Refugee Coordinator (Women) of the Pakistani Ahmadiyya Community Malaysia.

Topic: Amna will share her personal experience as a refugee student in Malaysia. Lack of awareness to refugees and hunting opportunities by word of mouth. Enrolling into the CERTE program led to opening doors and equipping her with the necessary skills needed for pursuing tertiary education. Moreover, she will also be walking us through the challenges she faced as a refugee student, her journey of being a CERTE Alumni and then serving as the Program Coordinator of CERTE.



Dr. Lucy Bailey – CERTE Committee

Bio: Lucy Bailey is Associate Professor and Head of Education Studies at the Bahrain Teachers College in the University of Bahrain. She was previously an Associate Professor at the University of Nottingham Malaysia, where she was Director of their Programme for Widening Access to Higher Education. She has also written extensively about the internationalisation of education, including studies of various aspects of international schooling, the internationalisation of higher education, and the schooling of students who are refugees or asylum seekers. 

Topic: Lucy will discuss her experiences setting up a programme to admit refugee students to the university, and the challenges that led to CERTE. The presentation will draw on her wider research into refugee students accessing higher education. 



Dr. Robin Duncan – CERTE Mentor

Bio: Robin Duncan is Dean of the Dr. Bonnie G. Metcalf School of Education at California Baptist University in Riverside, California. She was previously Assistant Professor at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama where she directed the secondary, non-traditional graduate teacher preparation program. She has lived and worked in England, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Her work has centered around excellence in education for all students, particularly in preparing professional educators. From her 3 years in Malaysia, she continues her work with the CERTE program as a member of the steering group and lead of the mentor program.

Topic: Robin will discuss her experiences collaborating with other entities in organizing and designing the CERTE program. She will also discuss the role of the mentor, the process of recruiting mentors, and the impact of the mentors in the CERTE program.



Priya Sharma – Employability Skills

Bio: Priya Sharma is an academic and the Director of PRME (Principles of Responsible Management Education) in the School of Business at Monash University Malaysia, and the Chair of PRME Chapter ASEAN+. She is also the recipient of the PRME Education Excellence by Monash Business Australia. She was recently part of the Global PRME Planning Committee and a speaker at the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit sharing insights integrating SDGs in teaching and research. Her research interest is in humanity and the law. She has published in the Malayan Law Journal on the exploitation of children for labour and most recently, a book chapter on Covid 19 and the trafficking of migrant workers for forced labour by De Gruyter Studies in Global Asia. In collaboration with stakeholders such as private higher institutions, NGOs and UNHCR, she has helped develop the CERTE bridge course and most recently, the 3 Ev (Employability, Entrepreneurial Education Virtual) Program to empower refugee youth in Malaysia.

Topic: Priya will discuss the pilot 3Ev Program in collaboration with UNHCR which was participated by 20 refugee youth. She will discuss the gap and the need for these skills in the pandemic situation today and highlight that the assistance rendered to them should deliver a balanced solution between academic opportunities and skills to help them build the means to generate income, and better integrate into their host countries and enter the job market. 



Abdulmajid Chahrour – Community Organiser

Bio: Abdulmajid is the Programs Director at, an organisation based in Malaysia that provides education and youth support services to refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia. After working in a number of NGO organisations in Malaysia, Abdulmajid joined to help develop their online Youth Academy and establish Malaysia’s first higher education scholarship fund for refugees.

Topic: Adbulmajid will discuss how the Fugee HiEd scholarship programme was established and the need to provide financial support to students as they pursue tertiary education.



Tuesday, 23 November, 2021 - 13:00 to 15:00
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