The UKFIET: Education and Development Forum recently organised a conference (September 17-19, 2019) in Oxford, UK, around the theme of Inclusive Education Systems: Future, Fallacies and Finance. The conference included a series of presentations organised around six major sub-themes: future directions in inclusive education systems, problematizing inclusive systems, education financing for global equity and inclusion, education technology and data science for inclusive systems, education system actors, strengthening inclusive practice and system responses to conflict and crises.

Dr. Lavinia Hirsu from the School of Education at the University of Glasgow participated in one of the few sessions dedicated to the role of Higher Education, entitled “Higher Education in the SDGs: Solution to Global Crises?”. The panel aimed to investigate and share findings about different ways in which HE institutions can address conflict and crisis in different contexts.

Dr. Hirsu’s presentation, Closed and open doors: Access to HE and the challenges of women’s empowerment in Iran and the Philippines, shared the findings from a research study conducted in collaboration with colleagues from Iran (Lamiah Hashemi) and the Philippines (Professor Zenaida Quezada Reyes) as part of the SUEUAA project.

The study involved women academics who shared their views, experiences and challenges in the academia that enable and prevent them at the same time to get involved in public engagement projects. Feedback from the audience included observations regarding the importance of cities and HE institutions that need to urgently come together and address creatively global challenges, such as climate-related disasters and food shortages.

The SUEUAA project was presented as one potential approach and solution to addressing these upcoming challenges which need to be tackled systematically with innovative solutions.