Being an inclusive university for refugee students

Concepts, methods and tools

The project’s target was to strengthen instruments that restore a universal notion to the right to education for refugees; specific activities have been identified to support academic enrollment and reduce those constraints that produce discrimination.

General Overview

The project aimed to identify and test a specific refugee tutoring activity. This tutoring promoted a peer-to-peer approach, with two levels of tutoring activities: 

  • Pre-academic, setting up guidance activities in reception facilities to enable refugees to consider university enrollment as an accessible option for them. 
  • In itinere, reducing potential constraints that may produce discrimination for refugees’ full inclusion in the academic context, risking slowing down their academic path. 

Participating project partners included the University of Birmingham, University of Cologne, Leiden University, Linnaeus University and the University of Florence.

Purpose and Significance

The project brought together five universities that have experience with refugee students: the University of Birmingham has an active branch of STAR (Student Action for Refugees) and applied for the “University of Sanctuary” initiative. The University of Cologne organises a semester course for about 100 refugee students per year. The course offers German language classes and integration/intercultural programmes. Leiden University established a Meeting Point for Refugee students, where refugee students can not only meet each other, but also other students and staff. The University of Florence has joined the UNHCR university corridors initiative, addressed to refugee students who are granted a two-year scholarship to attend master’s programmes in Florence. In addition, the University of Florence has recently introduced internal procedures to evaluate refugee qualifications when all or part of the relative documents are missing.

Implementation Method and Timeline

  1. Mentors’ training. This action consisted of three main steps: 1) identifying the tutors’ training needs; 2) preparing specific training material; 3) delivering the training. All the material prepared ad hoc will remain at the disposal of the partner universities.
    Timeline: March-May 2022
  2. Pre-academic guidance in the reception structures to reduce initial gaps between refugee students and ordinary students. This action included: 1) reaching out to potential beneficiaries interested in continuing their studies; 2) familiarising these beneficiaries with the various academic paths; 3) identifying any knowledge gaps (language skills, computer literacy and basic skills relating to the desired study path) in order to fill them in advance.
    Timeline: May-September 2022
  3. Ongoing peer tutoring to promote the inclusion of refugees in their study pathways while promoting guidance activities in the local area. This action was addressed to students in their first year of study, providing them information, guidance and support in four areas: 1) fulfilling bureaucratic tasks related to the university course; 2) services offered by the university; 3) local services open to refugee students. 
    Timeline: Sept-November 2022


During the project, tools were prepared to support the training and tutoring activities, also on the basis of the results of the evaluation activities. Digital tools (such as recordings of training webinars and audio-visual tutorials) are now available in several languages and accessible on the EUniWell website (below).

Further Information

Workshops, exchange of ideas and good practices (Videos and downloads)

Mentors’ training course calendar and videos:

Pre-academic guidance (Downloads)

Ongoing peer tutoring (Downloads)

Student Testimonials