MAKING UNIVERSITIES READY FOR SOCIAL INCLUSION AND CULTURAL DIVERSITY

With the significant increase of enrolled international students, the role of university-employees becomes more important at all levels of the academic system. The project assumes that the integration of refugees, migrants and international students into the higher education system promises great opportunities, as it also enforces the internationalization of higher education and the promotion of positive developments in universities. (Borgwardt 2016).
The MUSIC-project (“Making Universities Ready for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity”) develops a comprehensive program for employees at European universities to break down barriers for international students, namely migrants and refugees, in the use of educational and administrative services.

PROJECT COORDINATORS

Profilfoto Jessica Burmester Profilfoto Jessica Burmester
M.A. Jessica Burmester-Kock
Research Staff
Address
Callinstraße 20
30167 Hannover
Building
Room
204
Profilfoto Jessica Burmester Profilfoto Jessica Burmester
M.A. Jessica Burmester-Kock
Research Staff
Address
Callinstraße 20
30167 Hannover
Building
Room
204
Profilfoto Arne Schrader Profilfoto Arne Schrader
M. Ed. Arne Schrader
Research Staff
Address
Callinstraße 22
30167 Hannover
Building
Room
002
Profilfoto Arne Schrader Profilfoto Arne Schrader
M. Ed. Arne Schrader
Research Staff
Address
Callinstraße 22
30167 Hannover
Building
Room
002

PROJECT

Context

With the significant increase of enrolled international students, the role of university-employees becomes more important at all levels of the academic system. The project assumes that the integration of refugees, migrants and international students into the higher education system promises great opportunities, as it also enforces the internationalization of higher education and the promotion of positive developments in universities. (Borgwardt 2016).

The MUSIC-project ("Making Universities Ready for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity") develops a comprehensive program for employees at European universities to break down barriers for international students, namely migrants and refugees, in the use of educational and administrative services.

Through the qualification of employees of different work areas and different occupational groups within the "microcosm university" the social inclusion of these groups is promoted.

The decades-long immigration to Europe, the so-called "refugee crisis” in 2015/2016, as well as the increasing internationalization of universities, which was supported by numerous initiatives, effected that universities are confronted with a heterogeneous student body. This poses specific challenges for the universities.

Even the number of new students who have migrated to Germany “has nearly tripled between the current and the previous winter semester [...] ", a survey of the German Rectors' Conference from 2018 states. Along with the rising numbers, the tasks for the complex system grew - not just in Germany. This does not only affect the teachers in seminars and lectures, but also all other employee groups, such as employees of the student union or employees of the matriculation offices.

Against this background, MUSIC pursues a concept involving all relevant actors within the university.

Since the individual support of these target groups at the universities has a special significance, employees are in need of specific skills in the fields of communication, interculturality and civic education to be able to confront problems and conflicts constructively. Reflective, informed staff will provide migrants and refugees, and in a broader sense all international students, with easier access to tertiary education. Diversity and interculturality in higher education will be strengthened, and, in this way, a significant contribution to the integration of this group into the European Community will be achieved.

International students experience more appreciation and opportunities to participate socially in higher education, which will result in an increase of equal opportunities and a breakup of asymmetric relations at European universities.

Objectives

The project aims at raising awareness among employees of the university for the inclusion of international students, in particular refugees and migrants from third-nations, and designing inclusion processes in the best possible way. This will open up the university in the sense of an inclusive self-image. Internal processes can be critically reflected likewise and, if necessary, modified.

The employees (primary target group) can improve their intercultural and communicative skills, e.g. in the context of counselling or teaching. The focus of the project is based on concepts such as fair treatment (independent of religion, origin and gender), which can be linked to the current discourse of civic educational work and social science didactics. The project should not be limited to the individual level, but additional knowledge about structural levels should be conveyed by e.g. reflecting on power structures, analysing day-to-day political events, and increasing awareness for a particular approach to discrimination, stigmatisation and forms of group-related misanthropy.

Refugees and migrants are the secondary target group of the project. They will profit from the improved skills of the staff in the contact and advice centres. The importance of the counselling of (international) students is repeatedly emphasised (cf. HRK, 2018).

The concept is based on the experience of intercultural and civic adult education.

This field is characterised by many years of expertise in working with heterogeneous learning groups. Oftentimes, adult education institutions were involved in the "refugee crisis” and created educational opportunities for new arrivals. Methods and exercises from the inclusive adult education are therefore adapted and made fruitful. In addition, concepts and contents of civic education are incorporated into the project.

In order to determine the exact needs for the concrete contents of the modules of the curriculum and to develop corresponding offers and exercises for further training, a needs analysis in the national contexts at the universities will be executed at first. Building on this, the partners develop the modules of the curriculum by making full use of their common, sometimes specific, expertise.

The curriculum is divided into different modules:

  1. self-reflection on (conscious or unconscious) prejudices against refugees/migrants
  2. communication strategies in consulting as well as in the everyday exchange
  3. (Inter)cultural diversity and intercultural learning

These three form the cross-sectional modules that are relevant for all groups of employees. Moreover, the respective occupational groups addressed require group-specific offers.These specific offers (e.g. only for university teachers) are the content of a fourth module consisting of target group-specific offers.

The training concept will be pilot-tested at a four-day workshop and critically evaluated within the project consortium. Here, groups of people from different levels of universities (administration, teachers and student-groups) should participate.

At the same time, this will be the start of a comprehensive practice-oriented evaluation phase, which will be subdivided into:

Local evaluation phase:

Five universities are involved in the project, which will carry out the evaluation within their own institution. The employees who were previously involved in the workshop now act as “practical advisors”, who on the one hand, disseminate the developed contents, and, on the other hand are actively involved in the evaluation process.

(Cross) regional evaluation phase:

After this, the step from the local to the regional-level will take place by evaluating the program together with one additional university each. For this purpose, a special online course in the form of a webinar will be created, which provides access to (supra) regional universities and enables additional feedback. The webinar will be developed further as independent output and thus contributes to the sustainability of the project’s concept.

The collected evaluation results and feedback from the participants ultimately lead to a ready to use concept, which is made available as manual and digital handbook in all partner countries. Dissemination will take place nationally and EU-wide accordingly.

RESULTS

Stay tuned for more information!

NEWS & EVENTS

KICKOFF MEETING 02.12. - 03.12.2019 HANNOVER

The kick off meeting took place in Hanover, Germany on the 2th and 3th 
of December 2019. It was organized by the Leibniz University and led 
by Arne Schrader and Jessica Burmester (both LUH). After each partner 
introduced him/herself and his/her institution, the consortium went 
through every detail of the project plan. Furthermore, the first step, 
the need analysis, was discussed in detail and the all partners worked 
on the questionnaires for the different groups (lecturers, 
administrative staff, student representatives/student assistants, 
international students). The needs analysis is the basis for the 
development of the training concept. It was a highly efficient 
meeting, and a solid base for further cooperation was build.

ABOUT US

LEIBNIZ UNIVERSITY HANOVER

SYNERGY OF MUSIC THEATRE

SPEHA FRESIA

UNIVERSITY OF PIRAEUS

UNIVERSITY OF VIENNA

UNIVERSITY OF PAVIA

UNIVERSITY OF KAISERSLAUTERN

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. Submission Number: