Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

AUAS and UvA organise joint open day for refugees

14 Jun 2016 14:16 | Communication

Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (AUAS) and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) have joined hands to organise an open day for refugees to be held on 20 June, World Refugee Day. Relatively, there are a considerable number of refugees with a higher education in the Amsterdam region, however few of them are aware of the educational opportunities that exist in the Netherlands.

The open day will provide refugees with information regarding Dutch higher education in general, certificate valuation, language requirements and study programmes. Around 70 to 100 refugees are expected to attend on the day.

Among the large group of refugees who have arrived in the Amsterdam region are a considerable number of highly educated Syrians. Mayke Rameckers, coordinator of the AUAS Language and Preparatory Programme: "Refugees in the asylum-seekers centres and in emergency shelters receive virtually no information about opportunities for studying in the Netherlands. Our aim therefore is to reach out to this group and invite them along to the open day."

AUAS and UvA work closely together with COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers), Stichting voor Vluchteling-Studenten (Foundation for Asylum Seekers, UAF) and the city of Amsterdam to link up with the potential future students in good time and inform them about opportunities for studying. COA will personally contact these refugees in the emergency shelters and the asylum-seekers centres.

Highest language level required

Why is it so important to reach these refugees in a timely manner? To follow a course in Dutch at a university or a university of applied sciences, refugee students will require at least a B2 language level, and therefore need to opt to follow the highest level of integration programme. Unfortunately however, many will only hear this information at their local council when being allocated accommodation. This is actually too late, as refugees can already choose an integration course the moment their refugee status is accepted; so when they are still in an emergency shelter or at an asylum-seekers centre. This also applies to students wishing to follow a course in English; it is critical to reach them at a very early stage, to avoid losing valuable time.

Higher professional education level: unknown, but often more suitable

AUAS and UvA organise this open day jointly to present student refugees with a complete picture of the study opportunities available in Amsterdam. This collaboration will ensure refugee students arrive at the most appropriate course, which in many instances will be at the higher professional education level; a level unknown abroad. 

Rameckers: "A university diploma studied abroad is often something entirely different from a diploma course with the same name in the Netherlands. This also applies to higher secondary education levels. Refugee students often automatically wish to enrol at a university, because this is what they know, however a course at higher professional education level will often connect much better to their previous educational experience." 

The collaboration between AUAS and UvA not only concerns the preliminary phase: if refugee students at AUAS show the potential to go on to UvA, then AUAS will refer them, and vice versa.

Institutes for higher professional education, universities and ROCs (intermediate professional level) work together
At the open day, refugee students will be provided with information on among other things Dutch higher education, the preliminary processes and language requirements. There will also be an information ‘market place’ disseminating details on for example the AUAS Language and Preparatory Programme and the AUAS buddy project Link.

To improve the information supply regarding studying in the Netherlands even further, consultation has started between AUAS, UvA, VU, Inholland, AHK, Amsterdam ROC and KNAW. Given extensive experience with their language and preparatory programme and the long term collaboration with UAF, AUAS will adopt a leading role in these meetings.

The various educational institutions work together on a clear information supply for (future) refugee students. The plans include developing an online portal for refugee students explaining the Dutch educational system.