The BHER consortium respects the institutional autonomy of each partner university to set admission and graduation standards, curriculum, and approaches to pedagogy. Thus students are admitted to programmes following admission criteria set by each partner university. For example, students wishing to join a programme at a Kenyan university need to meet the minimum threshold of a secondary school exit exam score of C+. However, not all BHER students meet this criterion.
Due to years of exposure to substandard education (including low qualified teachers, limited resources) some applicants may have not performed as expected in secondary school exit exams and obtain a low exam score. Many women belong to this group of students – marginalisation in education provision is coupled with gender related stereotypical expectations that relegate school attendance and performance secondary to engaging with other major household responsibilities.
The advantage of the BHER consortium is that it enables students who have received an exit exam score lower than C+ to enrol in universities that have more flexible admission policies and require that students have completed secondary school. This does not mean that academic standards of admission are compromised; they imply that circumstances of marginalisation for many refugee and other marginalised groups are recognised in full confidence, and that given a second opportunity students may do well.
Following the principle of stackability (incremental earning of credits leading to a new credential at each level of a university program), a two tier system of admission was used by Canada’s York University. First, it allowed students to enrol in a one year programme offered primarily on-site that provided students with essential knowledge in educational studies and prepared them with skills essential for continuing Degree studies offered online. Thus, many of the BHER women students initially enroled in the York University Certificate in Educational Studies; those who performed well and met the criteria for admission to a university Degree programme then enroled in a Degree in Liberal Arts offered again by York University. We expect several of the women students that started their journey with BHER and York University in 2014 or 2015 will graduate with a fully accredited and internationally recognised undergraduate Degree in 2018. We have also learnt that, over time, institutional policies and practices can and do change. Kenyan universities have admitted students who have done well in programme courses who otherwise would not have been seen as admissible.
Story provided by: BHER ©2017