The University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Unimore) joins the Manifesto for Inclusive University, an initiative following the commitments laid down by the United Nations General Assembly through the Global Compact on Refugees, under which the Universities undertake to promote the access of refugees to university education and research, and to foster the social inclusion and the participation to university life. It has also decided to participate in the UNICORE 3.0, the University Corridors Project for Refugee students, by offering a Study Grant for attending a Master’s Degree Programme of the University.
The increasingly careful attention that the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia pays to topics related to discrimination, the most vulnerable subjects, and social inclusion of the minorities and migrants, which led to the creation of important centres like the Interdepartmental Research Centre on Discriminations and vulnerability (CRID – Centro di Ricerca Interdipartimentale sulle Discriminazioni e la vulnerabilità) and to the design and promotion of innovative research and study initiatives, including – recently – the ITHACA Project (Interconnecting and Archives for Migrant Agency: Entangled Narratives Across Europe and the Mediterranean Region), as well as the growing engagement to developing its own international scope, could not neglect Unimore participation in the Manifesto for Inclusive University.
Falling within the commitments laid down by the Global Compact on Refugees , the document adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2018, the initiative aims to promote the access of refugees to university education and research, and to foster their social inclusion and active participation to university life. Today, 34 Italian universities have joined the project. The underwriters of the Manifesto believe that
“Universities offer an important opportunity to young refugees, as they represent an essential step in their path for social inclusion ”.
Globally, only 3% of refugees has actually access to higher education, compared to a world average of 37%, according to the United Nations Agency for refugees, UNHCR.
Currently, more than 70 million people in the world are forcefully displaced because of conflicts, violence, and persecution. 29.5 million of them are refugees (of which over 20 millions are under the UNHCR mandate). The Geneva Convention of 1951 on the status of refugees lays down fundamental minimal rules on the treatment of refugees in the countries of asylum, including the right to a home, public support, and education. However, people under international protection face major problems and difficulties compared to both the residing population, and the other foreign people, when accessing these services, including education and university in particular.
More specifically, the Universities signing the document undertake to implement or expand activities and programmes to the benefit of refugee students, such as information and tutoring services, the recognition of study qualifications obtained abroad, study grants and incentives. The objective to be reached through the Manifesto for Inclusive University is to network the experience of the various Universities and exchange them to foster a greater integration of refugees in university programmes and to give the opportunity to access them also to students coming from such conditions. For this action, the contact person at the University will be professor Rita Bertozzi of the Department of Education and Human Sciences, who is already actively involved in refugee-related issues.
In addition, by joining the Manifesto, Universities also support the realisation of the so called “third mission”, as they foster the valorisation and the use of knowledge to contribute to the social, cultural, and economic development of Society. Along with the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia commitments for joining the Manifesto for Inclusive University, Unimore academic bodies also decided to participate in the UNICORE 3.0 University Corridors Project for Refugee students. Created in 2019, the project is intended to young refugees who cannot continue their studies: it gives refugee students in Ethiopia the opportunity to arrive in Italy with a regular and safe entry path and pursue their studies. With this decision, Unimore joins a partnership network of the project supported by UNHCR, the participants of which already include also voluntary and class associations, universities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, the Italian Caritas, the Diaconia Valdese and the Ghandi Charity.
Unimore participation in this intents partnership will soon be backed by the creation of a network with local associations and institutions and with the collaboration and support of ER.GO: in the last few days, the first meetings started to reach this objective in the short term. As a first true gesture of will aimed at promoting the reception of young “refugees”, Unimore promoted the offer of a Study Grant financed by the University and reserved to a refugee student recognised in Ethiopia who has completed the first three-year university studies in an Ethiopian university and applies for the selection to access the Master’s Degree Programme in English in International Management. The annual expense of the Study Grant may vary from 350.00 to 550.00 euros per months, also based on the financing in kind by other institutions that participate in the network being created for supporting the project.
“Joining the Manifesto for Inclusive University and opening of university corridors for refugees from Ethiopia to Italy to attend masters’ degree programmes are real actions that make our University increasingly more inclusive by sharing this experience with national and international networks – the Delegate for Equal Opportunities, professor Tindara Addabbo states – and we rely on the support of associations and institutions on the territory, which we know that they are very inclusive and are already supporting us in various welcome projects, to share these new challenges!”
The Rector’s Delegate for Internationalisation, professor Alessandro Capra, states that “Joining the Manifesto for Inclusive University is an important and commendable action within Unimore internationalisation initiatives. In addition, it is an initiative that is consistent with our commitments of the last years and further shows our focus on topics of such great and significant importance from a human and ethic perspective.