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


Assaf M., Lakmes A., Alobaidy M. G., Shabou F., Ahmad W., Alhasan M., ...More

International Journal of Educational Research Open, vol.3, 2022 (Scopus) identifier

Abstract

© 2022More 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.