Published September 20, 2021 | Version v1
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RISIS Research Seminar 10: Refugees access to higher ducation in Europe – Policy goals, data needs and some empirical results

  • 1. Institute for Public Communication, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano
  • 2. CHEPS, University of Twente


In view of the ongoing so-called ‘refugee crisis’, which began in late 2014, there is a growing potential demand for higher education (HE) opportunities amongst refugee communities in Europe and elsewhere. The EU acknowledges this need and supports the integration of people with refugee backgrounds into HE, including through funding of online linguistic support for new arrivals. Thus far, however, we know relatively little about the participation levels of students with refugee backgrounds in European universities. As noted in the recent Eurydice report, most countries of the Erasmus+ programme do not have specific policy approaches on this matter despite several systems referring to refugees and/or asylum seekers in national legislation.



Furthermore, the report suggested that few countries still undertake systematic monitoring, confirming the low priority of this issue in the national HE systems. In the absence of top-down requirements to strategically plan for widening participation of those with refugee backgrounds and monitoring of the outcomes, it is suggested that data can be collected only at the university level. It is not without difficulties, and institutions need to consider both ethical and methodological issues. However, refugees and their educational needs will likely remain invisible if we do not get a clear picture of their (under)representation in European universities.

The goal of the presentation will be, first, to discuss some potential indicators on refugees’ integration in higher education and to develop directions for a framework for data collection that could be connected with European-level higher education monitoring systems such as EurydiceETER and Multirank.

Frans Kaiser, CHEPS, University of Twente, has been involved as discussant.


Kaiser_RISIS Seminar_15 September 2021.pdf

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