Education and migrants

Education plays a crucial role in guiding refugees and other migrants from third countries in adapting to a new country and culture, as well as in establishing social relations within their host communities.

Towards migrant integration in education and training

Students with a migrant background often face difficulties in adjusting to a new learning environment. Education and training practitioners can benefit from guidance and the sharing of good practices to be able to address the learning needs of students in increasingly diverse and multilingual classrooms. 

Since 2016, the European Commission has supported EU Member States in their efforts to integrate migrants in their education and training systems - from early childhood education and care to higher education. The Commission Action Plan on the integration of third country nationals identified three priorities for education:

  • to integrate newly arrived migrants into mainstream education structures as early as possible
  • to prevent underachievement among migrants
  • to prevent social exclusion and foster intercultural dialogue.

Concrete actions implemented under the Action Plan range from tools to help assess migrants’ skills and qualifications, to collaborative platforms to promote the exchange of information among education and training institutions and staff. 

What is the EU doing to support the integration of migrants?

To help with the integration of migrants, the European Commission facilitates the exchange of good practices among Member States through mutual learning activities. These activities also promote networking among policymakers and allow them to better address current and future challenges. Between 2016 and 2018, the following topics were discussed at dedicated Peer Learning Activities: 

  • Language assessment and integration of unaccompanied minors through education 
  • Reception of newly arrived migrants, and assessment of previous schooling
  • Recognition of refugees’ qualifications
  • Intercultural dialogue as a tool to address migration, refugees and asylum seekers in educational contexts
  • Linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Integration policies for migrants: principles, challenges and practices

Furthermore, the Commission offers targeted expert advice through peer counselling to support policy reforms in the Member States, for instance, concerning the integration of newly arrived migrant students in schools. Such events are organised upon the request of any of the Member States, and involve policymakers from other national administrations and independent experts, who are brought together to find solutions to national challenges in a participatory workshop.

Through the Erasmus+ programme, the Commission funds projects and other activities for the integration of migrants in all sectors of education and training. Strategic partnerships are aimed at the development of innovative educational practices and promoting transnational cooperation. Erasmus+ also supports capacity-building in higher education in partner countries which are particularly affected by the consequences of migration. 

The European Commission co-funds the SIRIUS network on migrant education. The network supports the education of children and young people with a migrant background through strategic activities on the national and international level, and – along with migrants and refugees – brings together researchers, policymakers, and practitioners in the field of migrant education. 

The Erasmus+ funded School Education Gateway enables practitioners to exchange information, share materials (articles, lesson plans, etc.) and access services (e.g. online courses) on the topics of inclusion, cultural diversity and integrating newly arrived migrant students in classrooms. The eTwinning platform connects schools all over Europe via ICT tools and offers the possibility for school leaders and staff to share their experiences, and offer mutual assistance. 

The Commission has offered over 100,000 refugees and newly arrived migrants access to Online Linguistic Support. The initiative aims to help individuals integrate into their host society by providing the opportunity to learn the local language.