The issue of refugee students has currently turned into one of our major concerns. The institutional response remains unfortunately timid and fuzzy in front of this new challenge, hence our helplessness. The universities have so far tried to provide their own solutions to the problem.
Yet, these are either limited or inadequate as these are often mere replica of previous decisions, consisting in:
- Unconditional permission for enrolment without prerequisite
- Exemption from registration fees
- Yet, labor law is not taken into account
- Absence of adequate reception and integration plans which take into account the pedagogical dimension
- The latter is of paramount importance since it would allow the refugee students to study in favorable conditions, as they are often traumatized, and suffer from the means of support, from human contact and communication deficiencies in the langue of the host country. A pedagogical project should necessarily be oriented towards employment and social integration.
- Consider the free access to knowledge among the fundamental universal values
- Should this be implemented, universities would genuinely turn into real social actors
What can Universities do to genuinely welcome, train and favor the refugee students’ integration in the host country?
- Limit maximally the bureaucratic conundrum
- Be lenient in administrative procedures, mainly with respect to the accreditation of prior learning
- The vulnerability of this kind of students should always be taken into account
- A specific accompanying policy should be implemented for individualized support. A main contact person should be appointed for each student
- The option of tutored training should be encouraged
- Cultural and relational activities among peers should be enhanced
- The refugee students’ movement should be rendered flexible for them to take advantage of available training opportunities. This would prepare them for the choice of a specific educational stream
- The existing supply of assistance should be enhanced and developed by providing more adequate means
- Better visibility and accessibility of actors involved in supporting refugee students should be promoted and ensured
- Any momentum and action of solidarity carried out by these very students should be backed
- Language training should be provided
- Legal advisors by experts in refugee rights should be appointed
- Access to healthcare should be facilitated
Universities ought to:
- Enrich specific training supply and enhance student life
- Guarantee a pride of place to the issues of forced or willed immigration at the level of research and academic instruction
- Implement specific training programs in right of asylum and tight of foreigners
- Train students to better cope with their new social environment
- Give priority to intercultural exchange
- Offer students traineeship experience in reception centers
Get the students involved in the organization of cultural activities and promotion of living together in diversity
- The Universities’ response to the challenge of refugee students should be institutionalized
- The volunteer system has its own limits
- The assertion of the universities’ social responsibility, urged by the current and future critical situation, is a long-term political option Hence,
- It is urgently required to launch a collective reflection among universities on the challenging issue of refugee students which will serve as a federating platform for different ideas and initiatives.
Unimed, with its partners, is working in this way. It’s the spirit of Rescue project.