A guest post by Paul V.Dudman and Rumana Hashem, University of East London

June 2017 is finally upon us with the warmth of early summer sun and an impending election following on from a winter dominated by Brexit and Donald Trump. In this age of austerity and uncertainty, how should we approach pedagogy and how can we promote a positive discourse on refugee rights, social cohesion and diversity in the build-up to Refugee Week 2017?

There are so many provocations from far rights and liberal nationalists across the post-Brexit vote Britain and elsewhere that we feel that our response to these issues and provocations needs to be provocative too. At the onset of this Refugee Week, on 19 June, we have decided to co-host and organise a fringe event with activists, academics and students at the Refugee Research Archive at University of East London (UEL) which has been sponsored by the Activism in Sociology Forum (ASF) of British Sociological Association. The meeting focuses on “Education Beyond Borders” and the need for resistance to immobilities and intellectual impossibility in neo-liberal universities in post-Brexit vote Britain and beyond. Alongside an exhibitions of photos by Bill Knights, Refugees Gift, the event will be organised in conjunction with a diverse cohort of students on our OLIve Course for Refugees.

You may be aware of an Erasmus plus funded HE programme called OLIve, Open Learning Initiative, which the School of Social Sciences at UEL is delivering to refugees in the UK. The course has started on 29 April, with new students joining us every weekend since. We have currently some wonderful 50 students of diverse background in the course. To enable further discussion and engagement, we invite everyone to a free-to attend fringe meeting with our students and community organisers, advocates and academics on Docklands campus of University of East London.

Education Beyond Borders: Resisting Immobilities in Universities in Post-Brexit Vote Britain and Elsewhere

The event will start with three brief provocations leading to small group discussions and roundtable with activists and OLIve students. The meeting will build on a previous fringe event of ASF held in Birmingham in 2016. Our aim is to attract an equal share of activists, academics, community advocates, migrants and refugee rights experts, students and scholars of forced-migration and refugee research, and friends and people in struggle for borderless education and immobilities in universities in and outside post-Brexit Britain,

Our starting point is where we have ended in 2016, before Brexit, at the second ASF fringe meeting which was held at British Sociological Association’s annual conference in Birmingham. What we see to be the difficulty of accessing education and producing intellectual – especially critical and political – work in British universities and elsewhere. It was previously highlighted how the fact that universities have dominated the post-16 education landscape for some time means that a cooperative university would have a long way to go to become comprehensive. At the end of the dialogical and interactive discussion, participants had left the meeting room with an urge to continue that dialogue. The aim of the to be held fringe meeting is to think about and share ideas and practices on what is to be done about access to education, especially regarding asylum seekers and refugees, in post-Brexit Britain and elsewhere.

We also search for answers to questions such as how do we overcome intellectual difficulties in neoliberal universities? Is a radical praxis enough for ensuring education and resisting intellectual immobilities within and outside universities? How do students engage with social transformation and be active in promoting social change that is attentive to inequalities of class, ethnicity, gender, race and sexuality and aligned with struggles to confront and eliminate them? How do we achieve an inclusive and diversified and empowering education given the fact that contemporary political frictions and the rise of right wing politics in the UK, in Europe and elsewhere point to an increasingly divisive society? How long way to go for a ‘cooperative’ university to become comprehensive?

In the end of the event, we aim to plan an action for resisting immobilities in higher education and for ensuring intellectual practices in and outside universities. Anyone concerned to education, refugee rights and immobilities in neo-liberal universities in Britain and elsewhere is welcome to join us. Event details and RSVP can be made via Eventbrite.