Advocating for Change

 

REIs advocates for change in how the previous learning of people with refugee status are assessed by universities and national education agencies.  Putting this issue on the public policy agenda in Europe can have manifold impacts on how refugees are included into European societies, precisely because the issue - while seemingly straightforward - sheds light on the multiple ways in which refugees are prevented from studying further.

Recognition procedures in Europe usually focus on measuring how refugee qualifications measure up to European ones.  This results in would-be students being asked to return to high school.

Recognition procedures in many parts of Europe require refugees to show proof of qualifications earned.  But many refugees and asylum seekers do not have copies of their previous qualifications - conditions of flight mean that many documents are left behind.  In some European countries, the lack of documented proof of qualifications earned means that there is no possibility of entering higher education.

Some refugee students have not been able to finish, or have been prevented from finishing, university study for reasons related to their flight.  REIs has documented cases where refugee students have finished all course requirements but were not allowed to graduate. In other cases, refugee students have completed most course requirements but had to flee before fulfilling all requirements.  In many European countries, such individuals have to re-start their study from the first year because they cannot show a final certificate or degree.

A number of these problems can be addressed by an academic assessment of actual learning and knowledge, rather than only focusing on qualifications earned.

REIs has developed a means of assessing the learning and knowledge of refugees applying to university that centres on giving the applicant the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through academic assessment led by experienced university faculty.  The same policy makes provisions for a ‘foundation programme’ where any gaps in learning identified by a subject expert can be remedied over 10 months or less. This assessment method has become policy in one of the REIs partners, Central European University.  REIs will seek to further develop this policy in conversation with universities and national education agencies through a series of learning workshops.

REIs’ intervention in the complex world of refugee learning recognition is motivated by an understanding that how such learning is recognised (with an emphasis on qualifications gained, not actual knowledge) is a passive approach to including refugees in higher education, and therefore in European society.  REIs promotes instead a pro-active approach led by academics and subject experts that seeks to identify knowledge levels and remedy such gaps in knowledge.

Some refugee students have not been able to finish, or have been prevented from finishing, university study for reasons related to their flight.  REIs has documented cases where refugee students have finished all course requirements but were not allowed to graduate. In other cases, refugee students have completed most course requirements but had to flee before fulfilling all requirements.  In many European countries, such individuals have to re-start their study from the first year because they cannot show a final certificate or degree.

A number of these problems can be addressed by an academic assessment of actual learning and knowledge, rather than only focusing on qualifications earned.

REIs has developed a means of assessing the learning and knowledge of refugees applying to university that centres on giving the applicant the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge through academic assessment led by experienced university faculty.  The same policy makes provisions for a ‘foundation programme’ where any gaps in learning identified by a subject expert can be remedied over 10 months or less. This assessment method has become policy in one of the REIs partners, Central European University.  REIs will seek to further develop this policy in conversation with universities and national education agencies through a series of learning workshops.

REIs’ intervention in the complex world of refugee learning recognition is motivated by an understanding that how such learning is recognised (with an emphasis on qualifications gained, not actual knowledge) is a passive approach to including refugees in higher education, and therefore in European society.  REIs promotes instead a pro-active approach led by academics and subject experts that seeks to identify knowledge levels and remedy such gaps in knowledge.

Consortium conference in Budapest, March 2019. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian (Kepszerkesztoseg)

Consortium conference in Budapest, March 2019. Image credit: CEU / Zoltan Adrian (Kepszerkesztoseg)