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Integration of Refugee Students in European Higher Education Comparative Country Cases

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This edited book provides an overview and descriptive analysis of how selected countries namely, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Norway, UK and Turkey have responded to the massive inflow of refugees, as well as of the policy practices they have developed concerning refugee students’ integration into higher education. Seeking to encourage sustainable policy responses and national frameworks, this book highlights these selected countries’ procedures to ensure access to higher education and also approaches to recognize foreign qualifications. It also examines particular challenges in the case of each country. The report limits its scope exclusively to refugee students, excluding practices developed for refugee academics/university staff. The book offers a contribution to the existing literature on educational policy for refugees and encourages higher education institutions to remember their central role as a driving force for social development and integration.
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... In addition to these, there are also obstacles such as the lack of information and guidance about HE procedures and systems of host countries, differentiated access procedures even within the countries themselves, discrimination with regards to status (International students Vs Home students), lack of financial means and, of course, lack of knowledge of the language of instruction. All these, combined with the absence of policies for the reinforcement of language acquisition for refugee populations, constitute a partial list of the fundamental obstacles to the inclusion of refugees in HE in Europe (Lambrechts, 2020;Yildiz, 2019). ...
... Eight countries have created entry programmes within their HE systems, called "welcome", or "introductory" programmes, while in ten countries individual guidance for third country nationals is given in order to facilitate their integration within HE (European Commission/EACEA/Eurydice, 2019). Conversely, in Spain refugees are treated in the same way as migrants or other third country nationals who are permanent residents, which means that they are required to provide copies of their degrees and other relevant qualifications in order to gain entry to various university faculties 2 (Yildiz, 2019). Schneider (2018) provides evidence that German HEIs commonly subsume refugee populations and asylum seekers under the more general admission classification of international students. ...
... Relevant research, on the issue of refugee's inclusion in HEIs in Europe and elsewhere, although limited and somewhat under-developed, focuses, mainly, either on the barriers to access for refugee background students (Lambrechts, 2020;Yildiz, 2019) or the aspirations and experiences of refugees entering HE (Sontag, 2019;Schneider, 2018;Lenette, 2016). In this paper, we have attempted to portray the dominant trends in the European continent related to the integration of refugees in HE, focussing on the case of Greece and highlighting the policies of the Greek state towards the integration of refugees in the country's education system and the inclusion of refugees in Greek HE. ...
Article
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The abrupt influx of refugee populations in Europe in the last few years has, undoubtedly, posed many challenges in European countries. Higher Education is considered to be vital for the successful settlement of refugee communities into their host societies. Therefore, it is necessary to establish whether potential refugee aspirations to gain access in HEIs of their host country can be met at all. The present paper examines Greek policies regarding the inclusion of refugees in Higher Education (HE) and attempts to illustrate the range of initiatives taking place in Greek universities, directly or indirectly related to refugees, by highlighting the levels of authority involved, the locations, sources of funding and subject matter. Overall, what is made evident is that, in concurrence with dominant EU trends, the Greek government lacks a coherent policy for the inclusion of refugees in HE in Greece. It is most likely that the initiatives taken by researchers and academics (co-)shape what is considered to be the dominant policies regarding refugees in Greece and are not so much linked to their inclusion into HE as to other aspects of their presence in the country also involving separate target groups (teachers, local communities, researchers and others).
... In fact, as expressed by Baker et al. (2019) despite their national, cultural, social, economic, political or personal conditions or experiences, it is the structural exclusion from public services that brings refugees together as a form of "accidental community". with its discriminatory nature (Berg, 2018;Guo, 2009;Perry & Mallozzi, 2011;Schneider, 2018) for asylum seekers and refugees on their path towards higher education (Bloch, 2007;Earnest et al., 2010;Joyce et al., 2010;Jungblut, 2017;UNHCR, 2018b;Yıldız, 2019). ...
... The growing involvement of international non-governmental organizations in policy making and the enhanced collaboration in implementation is noticeable particularly in efforts to increase scholarship opportunities for refugee students and scholars (Yıldız, 2019;YÖK, 2017). ...
... Following the war in Syria, the German Federal Ministry for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) counted 441.899 new asylum applications in 2015, and 722.370 new applications in 2016 (BAMF, 2020). Within the context of this peak in new asylum applications coupled with an international push for higher education for refugees (UNHCR, 2019;Yildiz, 2019), the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) started funding schemes for refugee student support programmes at German higher education organisations (HEOs) and preparatory colleges Along with the increased public interest, a growing number of academic studies have been looking into higher education for refugees during recent years. While they often focus on the experiences and needs of refugee students (Akbalsi et al. 2019;Schneider, 2018;Sontag, 2019) and partly also on the introduction of support measures (Marcu, 2018;Tzoraki, 2019), only very few authors have used organisational theory to investigate offers for refugee students (Beigang, 2021;Webb et al., 2019). ...
... Together with the UNHCR and other international organizations, the Ministry of Education and The Council of Higher Education took on a very active and positive role in including Syrian youth into the higher education system through different mechanisms (Yıldız 2019;Watenpaugh et al. 2014;Hohberger 2018;Yavcan and El-Ghali 2017). According to Directory General of Migration Management (DGMM) and Ministry of Education (MoNE) data, the Syrian population of compulsory school age (5-17) is 1,082,172 as of October 2019, and it comprises 30.2% of the total Syrians in Turkey. ...
Book
This edited volume addresses critical issues surrounding higher education access for students of refugee backgrounds. It combines a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives on the challenges, opportunities, experiences and expectations of refugee students, as well as some of the institutional frameworks that facilitate their access to higher education. Following a critical discussion of the notion of ‘integration’, the team of authors who are made up of academics and refugee students critically investigate higher education as an objective of as well as a means to greater inclusion and integration.
... Together with the UNHCR and other international organizations, the Ministry of Education and The Council of Higher Education took on a very active and positive role in including Syrian youth into the higher education system through different mechanisms (Yıldız 2019;Watenpaugh et al. 2014;Hohberger 2018;Yavcan and El-Ghali 2017). According to Directory General of Migration Management (DGMM) and Ministry of Education (MoNE) data, the Syrian population of compulsory school age (5-17) is 1,082,172 as of October 2019, and it comprises 30.2% of the total Syrians in Turkey. ...
Chapter
This edited volume shares the proceedings of a symposium that was as held in the summer of 2019 in Hanover, Germany and dedicated to exploring the notion of integration as it relates to access to higher education for students of refugee background. The symposium included presentations and discussions of access to higher education in Germany, institutional contexts, and the challenges and benefits for students of refugee background compared with other groups. Throughout the symposium, we collaboratively questioned the notion of integration within higher education from different disciplinary, methodological and theoretical perspectives. One special panel also included a group of refugee students discussing their experiences and the main challenges they face seeking higher education. Integration is still too often understood in a one-side and narrow way. Informed by those discussions, the edited volume aims to contribute to the emerging research field of higher education for refugees. To introduce the edited volume, we reflect upon the symposium, discuss the state of research on integration of refugees into higher education, briefly introduce each article, and end with implications for further research and development.
Article
Pursuing higher education is one of the top priorities of many refugees after settlement in host countries. However, refugees’ participation in the labour market is the prime focus of integration policies and practices in various host nations, including Norway. This coupled with some complex challenges embedded in institutional policies and practices impede social inclusion of refugees into higher education in host countries. There is hitherto less attention on the role higher education institutions play in social inclusion of refugees into higher education. Hence, this article aims at exploring policies and practices of two universities in Norway regarding refugees’ access to, participation and success in higher education. To address this purpose, the data was collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with experts at both universities. Moreover, diverse institutional documents were consulted as supplementary to the interviews. The data were analysed through a step-by-step thematic analysis. The study reveals that the universities’ roles are characterised by ad hoc, spontaneous, and lack of durable initiatives and many of the existing initiatives are aimed at refugees’ access to higher education without considering the participation and empowerment dimensions of social inclusion. Therefore, it is recommended that universities should have clear comprehensive social inclusion policies specifically targeting refugees as equity groups. In addition to this, it is important that the universities implement concrete initiatives such as opening dedicated centres focusing on refugee (higher) education, English language, acculturation and bridging programmes for refugees, to contribute to the empowerment of refugees through higher education.
Article
Turkey hosts the vast majority, more than four million, of refugees in the world, and Afghans make up the second-largest group of this population. Turkey is considered both a transit, a gate toward European countries, and a destination country for refugees due to its geographical position. Nevertheless, the majority of asylum seekers in Turkey are Syrian who have moved into since 2011. The author claims that Turkey and international refugee supporters prefer Syrian refugees’ legal protection, which causes Afghans to suffer massive violations of basic human rights during their journey to Turkey, after arrival, and while seeking refugee status in Turkey. This paper considers current condition of Afghan asylum seekers’ international human rights in Turkey who are waiting for their final destination toward European countries. Similarly, this paper highlights the possible consequences of current strategies’ application on Afghan refugees’ human rights conditions based on UNHCR's most recent system. The author includes practical recommendations and suggestions for international society as well as Turkey to enhance the human rights condition of refugees, especially Afghans, since this concept requires global cooperation rather than only Turkey’s efforts.
Article
The current Syrian refugee exodus to Europe has created an urgent need for European societies to implement faster integration methods, to reduce the risk of social and economic alienation. Since the latest refugee wave includes more highly educated people, higher education institutions might serve as a strong inclusion instrument to integrate them into local communities. Norway has established a novel recognition procedure for persons without verifiable documentation. This study introduces this new methodology to policymakers and discusses its limitations, to enlarge scholarly debate on creating a joint European framework for recognizing prior qualifications. The study adopted a qualitative methodology, with a descriptive account of data derived from interviews with NOKUT officers. The findings highlight an urgent need in Europe to start an initiative for establishing a joint European qualification passport, which would be very useful due to the transferability of recognition decisions across European countries.
Research
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This study, published as part of the ‘Supporting University Community Pathways for Refugee students-Migrants’ (S.U.C.R.E.) project, addresses admissions procedures and preparatory programmes for refugees looking to access higher education across Europe. Among other topics of study, the project critically analyses the barriers refugees face while trying to access higher education, as well as challenges experienced on the institutional side. It also analyses the different programmes initiated by higher education institutions (HEIs) that serve refugees on the road to integration in respective university degree programmes. S.U.C.RE. was carried out by the University of Cologne, the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Greek Council for Refugees, and was coordinated by the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Article
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Apart from teaching, research and service to society, since 2015 higher education systems and institutions in Europe have faced an additional expectation – to respond to the largely unexpected yet nevertheless growing demand for higher education by refugees. This study explores system and organizational level responses to such environmental pressures in Germany and Flanders, both affluent systems, but different in terms of size, attractiveness as destination and the extent to which their languages are widely spoken. Relying primarily on document analysis and interviews, the study highlights three elements of policy dynamics: policy styles, main drivers, and extent of involvement of non-state actors. While, as expected, in both systems the dynamics were re-active, solution-driven, and with strong involvement of non-state actors, contrary to expectations both countries responded primarily in a bottom-up manner. The study provides a conceptual tool and a first empirical insight into this novel phenomenon.
Chapter
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Forced migration has been a crucial social phenomenon in the last decade. It has had inevitable impacts on higher education in the world and EHEA in particular. Since 2011, the Syrian refugee population living in Turkey increased to 3.3 million, which makes Turkey the country with the most refugee population in the world. As of 2017, 14,740 Syrian students were enrolled in 140 Turkish higher education institutions. However successful, enrolling has been a challenging experience for both the students and the Turkish universities in terms of recognition of qualifications, admission procedures and quality among other difficulties. This paper, which aims to investigate the access routes, qualifications and social dimension of the Syrian refugees studying in Turkish universities, is based on quantitative data gathered during a project called “Elite Dialogue” completed in May 2017. The field research involved 497 university students who participated in the interviews, of whom 395 filled in the online interviews and 102 participated in the face to face interviews during workshops in four cities (İstanbul, Ankara, Gaziantep, and Mardin). The questions were designed to learn about their academic and social inclusion into the Turkish higher education system. Therefore, the interviews consisted of questions relating to their academic background to understand if they had attended a university or received any degree in their home country. The interviews also covered their experience in accessing Turkish universities, the quality of the education experience, their qualifications and the barriers they have faced so far. Lastly, the financial and social conditions they face, the social, financial and academic level of their families, and their future plans for employment were investigated. New legislative rules and implementations, a new understanding of the access routes in a centralized higher education system, new approaches to the recognition of prior learning, new programs to overcome language barriers and to keep the quality high are the challenges that Turkey has been facing in the last five years. The findings of the research, analyzed in the paper, will hopefully contribute to overcoming the new challenges of refugees in higher education in Turkey and in the EHEA.
Chapter
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Making higher education more inclusive is one of the main targets of the Bologna Process. During the last years, national governments set up strategies to widen the access; higher education institutions and stakeholders developed measures to ensure inclusion of learners from diverse backgrounds. Higher education institutions and stakeholders, such as students’ unions, play a crucial role in the development and implementation of strategies. One of the main measures to enable better access to higher education is student counselling. Counselling activities are undertaken by diverse actors with several purposes. It can be provided by universities, stakeholders (as professional associations), psychologists or students’ unions. Counselling activities can be provided to a general audience or to specific target groups, which can be an advantage for those who benefit from specific counselling (e.g. for disabled students) but can also be a barrier for those who do not want to out themselves as “disadvantaged”. The paper provides an overview of counselling activities in nine European countries (Austria, Germany, Spain, Italy, Liechtenstein, United Kingdom, Romania, Denmark, Slovenia) from a student’s perspective. It will focus on counselling activities provided by students’ unions, their cooperation with other counselling providers (e.g. university counselling, financial support, psychologists) and their approach to supporting disadvantaged learners. This includes the use of modern technology (online counselling, Facebook, Skype) to reach out to a wider audience, mentoring and tutoring activities as well as counselling activities for specific groups (e.g. first-generation students). The paper will conclude with an analysis of provided measures, their role in widening access to higher education as well as identified gaps.
Article
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This article examines the role of institutions—particularly universities—in the recent refugee crisis. It contributes to the debate on the integration of refugees through the higher education system in Spain. Based on semi-structured interviews with refugees and experts in the institutions linked to the reception and integration of refugees, the paper presents evidence—albeit within an under-developed field of analysis—which has strong practical and sustainable policy implications. I argue that expanding access to university, by recognizing refugees’ qualifications and their overcoming of language barriers, increases the potential of refugees to contribute to the socio-economic progress of the receiving country and thus avoid marginalization. The evidence-based analysis of the effectiveness of the existing initiatives and programs for the integration of student refugees identifies challenges that still need to be addressed. The conclusions highlight the role of universities as sustainable actors in the integration of refugees, which through their programs make the reality of refugees more visible to other actors throughout Europe in the hope of encouraging institutions and other organizations to follow their lead in effective and sustainable initiatives.
Book
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This volume presents the major outcomes of the third edition of the Future of Higher Education – Bologna Process Researchers Conference (FOHE-BPRC 3) which was held on 27-29 November 2017. It acknowledges the importance of a continued dialogue between researchers and decision-makers and benefits from the experience already acquired, this way enabling the higher education community to bring its input into the 2018-2020 European Higher Education Area (EHEA) priorities. The Future of Higher Education – Bologna Process Researchers Conference (FOHE-BPRC) has already established itself as a landmark in the European higher education environment. The two previous editions (17-19 October 2011, 24-26 November 2014), with approximately 200 European and international participants each, covering more than 50 countries each, were organized prior to the Ministerial Conferences, thus encouraging a consistent dialogue between researchers and policy makers. The main conclusions of the FOHE Conferences were presented at the EHEA Ministerial Conferences (2012 and 2015), in order to make the voice of researchers better heard by European policy and decision makers. This volume is dedicated to continuing the collection of evidence and research-based policymaking and further narrowing the gap between policy and research within the EHEA and broader global contexts. It aims to identify the research areas that require more attention prior to the anniversary 2020 EHEA Ministerial Conference, with an emphasis on the new issues on rise in the academic and educational community. This book gives a platform for discussion on key issues between researchers, various direct higher education actors, decision-makers, and the wider public.
Article
Despite high educational aspirations amongst refugees and asylum seekers and refugees (ASRs), scholarship on international student migration and mobility commonly lacks insight deriving from forced migration research. Drawing on qualitative research concerned with Syrian ASRs’ educational aspirations and lived experiences regarding higher education access in Germany, this article speaks to the intersection of refugee and education politics. German Higher Education Institutions commonly subsume ASRs under the more general admission classification of “international students”. While an intentional blindness of the background of non-European Union students in the admission procedure is justified on the grounds of equal treatment, findings indicate that ASRs experience the disregard for their distinct struggles as particularly stifling and disillusioning. At the same time, an analysis of the symbolic significance young ASRs attribute to the student status suggests that educational aspirations are shaped by the prospect to “raise” one’s migration status and identity to that of international students.