How SNHU GEM’s model can help transform higher education for students across the globe

By putting student needs and experiences at the center, higher education is possible for refugees and other displaced learners.

Today, public universities in the U.S. have a 33% four-year graduation rate, while private colleges in the U.S. fare slightly better with a 55% four-year graduation rate.

At SNHU’s Global Education Movement (GEM), we’re working to transform these statistics and our higher education systems by building a student-centered, competency-based degree program that helps our refugee students break down the barriers of time, cost, and location.

In fact, 90% of GEM students graduate in four years and 88% of learners are employed within six months of graduation.

“We bring bachelor’s degrees and pathways to employment to refugees, migrants, and other learners that would otherwise not have access to higher education,” said Chrystina Russell, Senior Vice President at SNHU and Executive Director of GEM. “Students are the drivers of time — when they start a project, when they complete a project. Then when you layer in the partnership and the internship component, you’ve got a degree program that puts the student needs and timeline at the center.”

Our competency-based education model provides a self-directed and project-based curriculum, bolstered by robust supports and internship and job placements, so that learners can engage in projects from any location and earn credits as they successfully master career-ready skills.

In each of GEM’s 11 locations, we also work closely with on-the-ground partners who are experts in what refugees students are experiencing. We leverage their insights to adapt the program to the specific needs of students at each site.

“The model itself has potential for anybody who’s not accessing or finding success in higher education,” said Russell. “There are a lot of learners that we could serve if we… focused on the power of transforming how higher ed works.”

For more on SNHU’s GEM flexible degree program and student outcomes, read our 2020 Annual Impact report: