The final conference of the inHERE project (Higher Education Supporting Refugees in Europe) held on 19 September 2018 in Brussels was not only an opportunity to present the outcomes of the project, but also offered a platform for exchange with other EU co-funded projects on the situation of refugees in higher education and research, as well as with international organisations and different Directorates General of the European Commission.
In her keynote speech, Sophie Magennis of the UNHCR reminded participants of the importance of enhancing higher education participation of refugee youth - currently as low as 1% compared to a global average of 34% - also with a view to goal number four of the Sustainable Development Goals.
With such a significant part of the population excluded from higher education, there are likely to be long-term consequences. Over the past two years, inHERE has aimed to address this issue with a focus on the European Higher Education Area (EHEA). The project developed and tested a catalogue of good practices, conducted several virtual workshops and face-to-face training events, and launched a set of guidelines for higher education institutions aiming to enhance their practices in integrating refugees. Draft recommendations for policy makers and institutions were presented at the conference and were further discussed with the participants in the event.
In a poster session, 14 projects that are co-funded by various programmes and funds of the EU (Erasmus+, Horizon 2020, AMIF Fund and Madad Fund) were presented by consortia from all over Europe. The following concepts emerged from the workshop deliberations:
While many higher education institutions run initiatives for refugees, strategic approaches, leadership attention and support are still not very common. Concrete links to the mission of the institution or to its diversity management strategy would, however, be vital for the sustainability of the – often ad-hoc and short-term - initiatives for refugees.
Institutions need to further enhance collaboration, both with each other and with other organisations, in order to pool resources and coordinate initiatives. An international platform for exchange and collaboration would facilitate this effort and foster long-term synergies.
Research on the situation of refugees and migration exists but is not efficiently disseminated to society and to policy makers. Resources for research remain scarce and are not sustainable, bearing on the assumption that the integration of refugees is a temporary crisis. However, our societies need more sustainable structures and resources to address the consequences of migration in the long term.
All materials, presentations and posters of the event, as well as the inHERE outputs, are available on the project website. The project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme and brings together UNIMED, EUA, Campus France, the University of Barcelona, Sapienza University and the UNHCR (associate partner).