The European Commission supports the integration of migrants and refugees in higher education and research. The Commission funds projects and disseminates successful practices in this field. Language skills and recognition of qualifications are key issues for these groups.

Erasmus+ funds project-based support for Programme Country higher education institutions (HEIs) and Partner Countries around the world, including in countries which are the main sources of migration to Europe.

Two types of projects are particularly relevant for institutions:


Around 100,000 refugees can access free Online Linguistic Support (OLS) from 2016 to 2018. OLS for refugees is part of the Erasmus+ programme.

Many higher education actors are taking initiatives facilitating the integration of refugees in European universities. The European Commission carried out a survey to collect such initiatives, which can be grouped under three themes:

Please share your practices by sending us an email.

You can find inspiration from other projects related to higher education and refugees. We have selected some of them in this page.

The Erasmus+ Project Results Platform gives you information on all projects funded under the Erasmus+ programme in the field of education, training, youth and sport. Erasmus+ funds capacity building projects related to refugees:

Erasmus+ also funds strategic partnerships related to refugees:

  • Teaching Partnership Addressed to Refugees' Instances Strengthening ("PARIS"): three Universities and three non-profit making organizations prepare innovative tools addressed to university students learning outcomes: a learning platform made up by thematic sections addressing refugees issues; the recognition of a joint curriculum from the three universities involved; a guideline on assertive communication.
  • Strategic Partnership to promote core academic values and welcome refugees and threatened academics to European campuses: the objectives are to improve the capacity of European universities to assist refugees and threatened academics and to promote greater respect for academic freedom and greater protection for higher education values in all international higher education partnerships.
  • Counselling for Refugees and Migrant Integration into the labour market – development of Courses for Higher Education and Public Employment Services: this project aims to tackle the challenge of integrating refugees and migrants into the labour market by bringing together experienced partners from countries that are amongst the most affected - Germany, Italy, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
  • REFUGIUM: building shelter cities and a new welcoming culture. Links between European universities and schools in Human Rights: this project is based on the belief that higher education institutions can play an important role in the integration of migrants and refugees through their own educational activities. The proposed actions are aimed at promoting a better understanding of the causes, consequences and current state of forced displacement in Europe and prevent racist and xenophobic outbreaks among European adolescents and youth.
  • Supporting university community pathways for refugees-migrants: The SUCRE project focuses on the response of the universities to the academic needs of immigrant/refugees students and to the formation of manuals of field testing (handbook of good practices), through the development of training modules addressed to volunteers.
  • Massive Open Online courses eNhancing LInguistic and Transversal skills for social inclusion and Employability: with the help of credit-bearing MOOCs, students would be able to begin introducing themselves to their studies at their own pace, without needing to enrol the institutions, knowing that this credit would be eventually recognised towards their final degree, once they are able to access Higher Education formally. Alternatively, MOOCs could help refugees top-up specific skills and directly enter the labour market.
  • inHERE: this project collects and analyses good practice examples of higher education approaches and initiatives in wide range of urgent situations, focusing on refugees and displaced students, facilitating the identification of successful patterns of integration which have the potential to be easily scaled up (e.g. teaching local language and local culture, voluntary host services, tailored counselling services,…) and facilitate peer and networked communication on lessons learned.
  • Inclusion of immigrants in academic education in the countries of the Visegrad Group: the main objective of this project is to prepare higher education sector in the Visegrad Group countries for inclusion of immigrants into academic education. Other objectives are change of social attitudes towards migrants in local communities; promotion of academic education among immigrants; and social inclusion of students-migrants into their new homelands.
  • Erasmus Scene Network: E+SN is a European cultural project based on theatre and education that is addressed to 3 different target groups: Erasmus students, local students and local refuges. E+SN main goal is establishing a meeting point for persons displaced for different reasons who will be working together with a common aim: the creation of a theatre play. This process will lead to the acquisition of linguistic, communicative, artistic and expressive competencies to improve some aspects of the participants’ integration and employability.

The EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian Crisis (Madad Fund) supports Syrian refugees and their host communities in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and the Western Balkans. It funds HOPES - Higher and Further Education Opportunities and Perspectives for Syrians, which gives Syrian refugees and disadvantaged students from the host countries access to higher education. As many as 400 to 600 full academic scholarships and 4,000 language scholarships are to be awarded to Syrian refugees until 2019.

SPARK is responding to the higher education crisis for Syrian refugees and vulnerable youth residing in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq/KRG. In the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa), SPARK offers three solutions: scholarship packages, language & vocational trainings, and advocacy. 

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

These include:

  • 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.

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 CAR Panel is reserved for those who have been absent from research for at least a year, for whatever reason, including displacement because of conflict. The Guide for Applicants provides further information.
  • 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.

The MSCA Scoping Paper in support of the MSCA part of the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for 2018-20 highlights the intention to expand opportunities for displaced researchers during the 2018-20 period. The Work Programme will be available on the Horizon 2020 Participant Portal.