UCL launches a unique programme for refugees

UCL education - press release

This year, UCL is offering a preparatory programme for refugees that is unique in the French Community of Belgium. The programme includes French language instruction to the university level (to be able to understand advanced subject matter in the lecture hall), followed by open enrolment courses and personalised support. The goal is to prepare individuals to study at university and, ultimately, acquire tools to participate in rebuilding their country.

For two years UCL has been offering a series of initiatives in support of refugees: conferences, MOOCs, French courses, research. What’s new this year is that UCL is structuring all of these initiatives into a programme that prepares participants for a university education. Learning French to navigate daily life is one thing; mastering the language of Molière in order to pursue a university education is quite another. Simultaneously pursuing higher education and learning a new language is a challenge. Thus UCL has created this year of transitional coursework to enable students to progress step by step and give them every opportunity to succeed in their university career. This gradual adaptation maximises their chances of success.

UCL has two objectives:

  • fulfil its social role by participating in the education of all citizens, regardless of their background or situation, in times of crisis;
  • provide access to knowledge in times of crisis and train refugees so they can play an active role in rebuilding their country. As UCL Pro-rector for International Affairs Dana Samson says, ‘It’s unimaginable that in a time of crisis an entire generation is cut off from higher education. So it’s vital to train this new generation in order to enable its members to act and broaden their future possibilities. This programme is a springboard to university and a better future.’

The programme is intended for refugees who: had begun a course in their home country but were forced to withdraw; are at the age to begin a course; want to change careers.

Prerequisites include minimum French proficiency (level A2); asylum seeker, refugee or subsidiary protection status; a secondary school or equivalent education; a specific field of study whose coursework begins the following year. UCL hopes to welcome some 20 students in 2017-18. It will refer additional applications to ad hoc organisations and associations (to ensure that the doors of opportunity do not close).

Specifically, the preparatory year focuses on three areas:

  • French (standard and online courses and conversation);
  • getting acquainted with the university system: refugee students take open enrolment courses (in accordance with their future studies) and sit for exams;
  • individualised support for the student’s social integration and to help the student apply to a degree programme.

To implement this preparatory programme, UCL mobilises some 20 individuals: Student Support Service personnel (social workers, psychologists), language instructors, professors, teaching assistants, teaching and administrative teams, kots à projets (MigraKot).

Informations : www.uclouvain.be/access2university  
Press contacts : Dana Samson, Pro-rector for International Affairs : GSM on request
Emmanuelle Rassart, Professor of French as a Foreign Language, UCL Language Institute : GSM on request


Published on September 19, 2017