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Inclusion: what can we learn from the youth sector?

In this month’s Inclusion Think Piece, Tony Geudens, Inclusion and Diversity Officer at the SALTO-YOUTH Resource Centre is walking us through supporting people with fewer opportunities and the process of strategy making in the field of inclusion, based on his nearly 20-year experience in this field.

As one of the contributors to the European Commission’s Inclusion and Diversity Strategy for 2021-2027 (see ACA Newsletter – Education in Europe), Tony is advocating for higher education to learn from the youth sector, which has more experience in designing measures for expanding access to programmes and projects for people with fewer opportunities. Under this approach, the focus is put on  on the situation they are in or obstacles they are facing rather than on their “disadvantageness”, as it was often the case at an earlier stages of inclusion development. To successfully reach out to those students and motivate them to go on mobility, several tips, such as being present in places or channels where they are, or using images they can identify with, are discussed based on existing practical experience in the youth sector.

As the entire sector is stepping up its activities in the broad field of inclusion, lessons learnt from the youth field are valuable for the new Erasmus+ programme. Most importantly for practitioners and funders, it takes more time and effort to get specific target groups on board. And once they become interested in undertaking a student mobility experience, some groups of learners may require social support during the mobility. Therefore, it is important to strive for a holistic approach to inclusion, considering one’s social, cultural and economic background beyond a mere student status. This also involves being prepared to support returning students with sufficient resources once they are back with a proper follow-up and reintegration in their home universities.

For more practical tips and candid insights on the current state of play in inclusion, make sure to have a read of the full Think Piece.