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Higher education institutions across the EU are creating initiatives on national, European and international level to positively impact the futures of refugee students and teachers, developing processes for the academic integration of young talent that has been forcefully displaced from continuing their studies. To raise awareness for ongoing initiatives and share good practice, the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Training, over the next eight weeks, will feature inspiring cases from higher education helping to tackle the refugee crisis and support refugees in finding their place in society.
The first story of inspiration is set at Leiden University's graduate school of teaching (ICLON), that commenced a training for Syrian teachers to use digital teaching technologies. Building on existing cooperation, in a joint effort of Dutch and Kazak partners a workshop on developing higher education curricula has been set up for Syrian refugee teachers residing in the Netherlands. The Mobile Educators project, produced by ICLON and the ‘Dutch Academic services’ and partially funded through crowdsourcing, facilitates Syrian teachers to join an eight week programme, with the key objective to provide skills that can be transferred to their non-English speaking counterparts. 16 teachers have been awarded certificates of participation, creating increased opportunities for their professional development and integration in the Netherlands.
Next the spotlight is placed on Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), for freeing up 10 study places for refugees at a summer school teaching on EU immigration and asylum law/policy. Under the umbrella of the Erasmus + Jean Monnet grant the OMINA project (Odysseus Monnet Network for Immigration and Asylum) seeks to build a community of researchers and professors with expertise in migration policy. OMINA aims to facilitate the virtual or physical space, to build knowledge and capacity in the subject area, soon launching an open access platform for a wide variety of stakeholders ranging from policy makers to graduates and NGO workers. To accommodate the learning journey of these 10 refugee students ULB has applied a combination of innovative funding approaches.
The University of Bremen’s exemplary initiative centres on the elimination of legal obstacles when trying to give refugee and asylum seekers access to courses and programmes. To enable those young people to access education, who face a pending asylum status and who had to forcefully interrupt their studies, the university has opted for the simple but effective solution – refugees are considered as secondary school students allowing them the status of a ‘visiting student’ free to partake in lectures and seminars and to obtain valid certificates. The IN-touch programme, is growing and acts successfully as a bridge to the German academic system - supporting social and cultural activities, language learning and importantly engages young refugees intellectually, to build on their future now despite pending uncertainties of their status. By 2016 the programme counts 300 registrations and is expanding its reach, partnering with other universities to soon open the new Higher Education Refugees Entrance (HERE) office.
If you would like to share good practices that higher education institutions have been implementing in support of refugees, the Commission welcomes you to get in European Commission