Refugees Welcome (to higher education?)

Refugees Welcome (to higher education?)

It is often the case that refugees arrive in a country with educational qualifications and work experience, but with no documents. To make the most of their potential, we need to recognize those qualifications. That requires ‘thinking out of the box’ and it requires thinking fast. If refugees cannot use the skills for which they are qualified, they will eventually lose them, along with their motivation.

G-100, refugees led voluntary initiative organized an event on Sunday (18th March) where newcomers and NGOs representatives discussed the access of newcomers to higher education and participation in the democratic process. From the discussions, it was clear that refugees are too often unable to use their qualifications to the benefit of their host countries. This is a loss for host countries, a waste of talent and expertise, as well as for the individual refugees, who miss out on the chance of using their qualifications and developing their skills. 

This is why Council of Europe, the Greek ministry of education and four ENICs (national information centers working on recognition issues) in Greece, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom tested a method for assessing refugees’ qualifications, even when they cannot be adequately documented, in a European pilot project last year.

Since 2003, NOKUT, the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education, has been working on developing and implementing special recognition procedures for refugees. After more than 10 years of trial and adjustments, Norway has gained experience in the development and use of appropriate recognition tools for refugees.

It is necessary however to look outside of the national framework. To support and ensure that refugees will be able to participate in the jobs market and-or pursue further studies in Europe, NOKUT and UK NARIC have proposed the idea of establishing a scheme called the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees. Through an evaluation of whatever documentation is available, a self-evaluation that the refugee provides and a structured interview with two qualified credentials evaluators, the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees (EQPR) maps and presents information on the refugee’s education level and profile, work experience, and language proficiency. 

This tool could be indeed a way forward, however, SOLIDAR Foundation stressed the need to strengthen the integration process of refugees in the hosting countries. From the discussions on Sunday, it was obvious that newcomers have very scare access to information and available tools offered by public service and/or NGOs.

To continue and follow up on the discussion G-100 and its partners organize a public conference with the presence of local and European policymakers on 24th April in Tricoterie (Sait Gilles). More info about the event and official invitations will follow shortly. ​

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