Opportunities and challenges for refugee students’ integration in Europe

Photo credits: Twitter of Sapienza Università (@SapienzaRoma)

A staff training week on “Integration of Refugees: the role of Universities” took place at the Sapienza University of Rome, from 16th to 20th April 2018.

The five-day training was organised in the framework of inHERE, a project funded by the European Union within the Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic Partnership Programme. inHERE aims to strengthen knowledge sharing, peer-support and academic partnership to facilitate integration and access of refugees in European higher education institutions. The inHERE Consortium comprises UNIMED (Mediterranean Universities Union, Italy), the Sapienza University (Italy), the University of Barcelona (Spain), Campus France (France), the European University Association (EUA, Belgium) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, associate partner).

Experts, academics and officials from several European universities, active in the promotion of refugee and migrant rights and interested in presenting successful experiences within their universities attended the event. All sessions and conferences were a great opportunity to discuss concrete actions taken by European universities to facilitate the integration of refugees in their institutions.

Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne: a University strongly committed to the integration of refugee students

refugee student programmIn 2015, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University’s response to the growing humanitarian refugee crisis resulted in the creation of the refugee student programme, initially designed to provide refugee students with the skills necessary to integrate into the University in order to continue their studies.

In 2017, the University developed a new diploma uniquely conceived for refugee students: the Sorbonne, Langues, Humanités, Citoyennetés University Diploma, which intends to provide students with a B2 French level, introductory courses into the history of European institutions and contemporary studies, technology and methodology courses, and individualised mentorship. Thus far, 111 students have benefited from the programme; securing housing arrangements, French language acquisition, and the pursuit of their college careers.

The PAUSE programme (National programme for the urgent aid and reception of scientists in exile) awards stimulus funding to higher education establishments and public research organizations who plan to host scientists at risk, and supports their activities. Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne University has welcomed several exiled researchers and doctoral students in the framework of this programme.

The University is also an active member of several European projects and networks in which the refugee issue is fundamental such as the EUA or CHANcE (Cohesion in education for refugees). This last project coordinated by UNIMED aims to develop a degree in local universities of Iraq, Jordan and Iraqi Kurdistan, in order to train teachers in the specificity of refugee students. The integration of refugees is also a common and transdisciplinary theme among the six universities which form the new European University Alliance. Finally, Panthéon-Sorbonne University maintains close relations with local associations, social workers and journalists.

A Policy Dialogue Conference organised by Campus France on behalf of the project inHERE, will be held on 22nd May 2018 in Paris. The conference will revolve around the following issue: “How national and European policies can support refugee students and researchers in European Higher Education”.


Photo credits: Twitter of Sapienza Università (@SapienzaRoma)