RUG prepares for arrival of more refugee students

The RUG is preparing for the arrival of more refugee students. The university wants to see if it can better accommodate the refugees.

A small group of employees and guidance counsellors from the Bureau of the university are mapping out the possibilities for refugees to study at the RUG. ‘Opportunities already exist, but now that a huge influx of refugees is arriving in Europe, we think that it’s necessary to see if we can do more, or if we should handle matters slightly differently’, says Madeleine Gardeur, advisor for international affairs.

The refugees have to be given the same chances as other students, Gardeur says. ‘To begin with, we don’t want to do things very differently for the refugees. For these students in particular, if we want to offer a sustainable solution which will also benefit the nations where they come from, we should connect these efforts to our core business, which is education and research.’

Extra classes

Refugee students must meet the same admissions requirements as other students, but there are opportunities to help students in areas where they may fall short, such as taking Dutch classes or improving their knowledge in specific fields. ‘We are wondering if the current refugee students are more interested in following English-taught or Dutch-taught programmes and what that would mean for setting up a preparation period’, says Gardeur.

The RUG is in contact with the University Asylum Fund (UAF), university union VSNU and the ministry of education, culture and science. ‘The question is practical: what do we have to offer, what is possible and does what we have to offer meet the demand? If not, what can we do to adapt? Are there creative ways to do something meaningful for refugee students? Another question is, of course, about how to pay for this and what the legal regulations are. It’s also important to maintain contact with national organisations in that regard.’

Currently, 36 refugee students are enrolled at the RUG. Seven of them began studying here this academic year. Second to the Vrije Universiteit, the RUG has the most refugee students among Dutch universities.