Supporting the efforts of EU countries to integrate refugees in Europe's education systems and ensure their skills development is an urgent task in the light of the current migration crisis.

Many initiatives are already taking place in EU countries. The European Commission can bring added value by sharing these initiatives and by offering support through its programmes.

The European Commission has been conducting an EU survey to collect a wide range of initiatives taken by higher education actors. The objective of this survey was two-fold:

  • To have a better picture of the initiatives already taken by higher education actors in this area and of the challenges they may have encountered
  • To continue adapting the Erasmus+ programme to the current situation through a bottom-up approach and asking the higher education sector for their input

Based on the 179 contributions (from 19 countries) to this survey and following the conclusions from a workshop held in October that gathered 30 partners (Erasmus+ National Agencies, universities and student associations…), the European Commission has published lists of existing initiatives to provide inspiration to individuals and institutions interested in facilitating the integration of refugees in European universities. The lists groups such initiatives under three themes:

Are you aware of other types of activities that are not listed in our lists of inspiring practices while they could be interesting to share? Please contact us via email.

The European Commission supports and funds initiatives to improve the recognition of qualifications held by refugees.

These include:

  • A guide for credential evaluators on how to introduce recognition procedures of qualifications presented by refugees
  • Information on academic recognition procedures for refugee students and graduates. The information is relevant for people who want to study or who are looking for work
  • A toolkit for credential evaluators to introduce fair and streamlined procedures for recognising qualifications held by refugees. The toolkit will be available in 2017 and is funded by Erasmus+. It will provide education system profiles of relevant third countries, e-learning modules and a set of detailed guidelines for introducing effective procedures
  • Meetings between recognition centres to share best practices in the field
  • Through mutual learning and the identification of good practices, the working group English (en) supports national governments in addressing the key challenges of their education and training systems. The ET 2020 working group is composed of national policymakers and representatives of the social partners.
  • The working group considered the integration into higher education of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants.
  • Information was shared about initiatives, from grassroots to government, covering language acquisition, bridging courses, access requirements, recognition of qualifications, mentoring, intercultural awareness, ECTS points for student volunteers, financial support and the provision of support for newly arrived academics.
  • Delegates agreed that, at EU level, there was an urgent need for coordinated policy guidance, information-sharing and dissemination, and an adaptation of EU funding streams. At national level, it was considered that there was a need, in many countries, for an end to delays, based on legal status to access to education and/or financial support. This issue will continue to be a priority in 2016.

100,000 Erasmus+ Online Linguistic Support licences for language assessments and the same number of licences for online language courses are available to refugees for a period of 3 years within a specific framework, starting from summer 2016.

25 National Agencies, which work with the Commission to manage the Erasmus+ programme, have confirmed their participation so far and requests for more than 50,000 OLS licences for refugees have been received so far. 50,132 OLS licences were made available to refugees at the beginning of July.

Licenses will continue to be distributed based on requests from National Agencies, after validation by the Commission, on a "first-come first-served" basis until all available licences have been used. For more information, please visit the OLS for refugees website.

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (MSCA) of the EU Horizon 2020 programme provide high-quality training and career development opportunities in Europe for researchers of any nationality or field, either towards or beyond PhD level. The following features of the programme are particularly relevant to researchers, whose scientific careers have been interrupted, including displaced researchers:

  • The Career Restart Panel supports post-doctoral researchers resuming their research careers in Europe
  • The eligibility criteria for MSCA funding are applied so that researchers who have suspended their activities while applying for refugee status are not disadvantaged. The time spent in a country while waiting for refugee status to be conferred, will not be counted as 'period of residence/activity ' in the country of the host organisation
  • Organisations providing pre- or post-doctoral training are encouraged to include activities for the integration of displaced researchers