Refugees and Higher Education: Hosting and Integrating Scholars and Students

International Workshop

10-11 December 2019
Versione stampabile

Venue: Sociology Building, Via Verdi 26 - Trento, Italy - Room 20 (Aula Andreatta), 2nd floor

Political violence, growing authoritarianism and the ensuing ‘refugee crisis’ have considerably augmented pressure on higher education institutions to integrate displaced students and scholars. The Strategic Directions (2017-2021) of the UNHCR recognise the importance of refugees’ access to university education and research as a fundamental part of its protection and inclusion strategies. Between September 2017 and August 2018, Scholars at Risk (SAR) recorded more than 294 cases of risk for individual scholars or wider educational communities, arising in 47 different countries.  In 2019, it has received 581 requests of assistance from scholars worldwide. 

Different European countries have implemented programs to guarantee access to higher education for displaced students and to support at-risk scholars in continuing their academic work. They try to foster collaboration at national and international level in order to consolidate common strategies.

Forced outflows raise several challenges for receiving universities, in terms of curricula adaptation, recognition of credentials and diplomas and overall integration capacities. They also urge European universities to engage in a self-reflexive assessment of their present capacity to reflect traditional values of academic freedom, social inclusiveness and equality.

The organisation of the workshop ‘Refugees and Higher Education’ at the University of Trento draws from the recent creation (February 2019) of the Italian section of Scholars at Risks (SAR Italy): a network comprising today 20 universities and research institutes in the country. Many of them have recently developed or plan to develop strategies of reception and inclusion for students and scholars affected by forced migration, and to enhance training, research and advocacy activities on academic freedom. 

The workshop aims at bringing together institutions, organisations, displaced scholars and students involved in the SAR network, in a view to foster a dialogue aimed at sharing good practices, reflecting on common challenges and responses, and developing future collaborations.

It is organised by SAR Italy together with the Rectorate Office of ‘Equality & Diversity’ and the International Migration Laboratory of the University of Trento. It is open to all scholars, students, administrative staff and members of the civil society.


Attendance to the workshop is free but the registration is mandatory

Link to the registration form of the international workshop SAR-2019.

The registration process will close Tuesday December 3, 2019 at 23.55 h.


Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Refugees in Higher education: European Perspectives

9.00 - 9.30 Institutional Greetings

  • Paolo Collini, Rector of the University of Trento
  • Viviana Sbardella, for the Autonomous Province of Trento
  • Ester Gallo, Department of Sociology and Social Research, SAR Italy National Co-coordinator
  • Barbara Poggio, Department of Sociology and Social Research, Vice-Rector for Equality & Diversity policies 
  • Fulvio Cortese, Faculty of Law and International Migration Laboratory

9.30 - 11.00

Moderator: Giuseppe Sciortino, Department of Sociology and Social Research, Vice-Chancellor for Research Enhancement

  • Angelo Pittaluga, UNHCR
    Refugees and Tertiary Education in UNHCR strategy
  • Prem Rajaram Kumar, Central European University
    Responding to Refugee Inequality and Exclusion in Higher Education in Europe: Moving Beyond the ‘Integration’ Paradigm

11.10 - 11.15 Coffee Break 

11.15 - 13.15 

Session I: Hosting and Integrating Refugee Students 
Moderator: Barbara Poggio, University of Trento

  • Catalina Jerez, University of Barcelona
    Rethinking Inclusion of Refugees in Higher Education. Lessons Learnt and Main Challenges
  • Alessandra Scagliarini, University of Bologna
    University of Bologna and its Welcome to Refugees: UNI-CO-RE University Corridors for Refugees and the Value of Partnerships
  • Students' Perspectives:
    - Mervat Sayegh, University of Ferrara
    What is a Refugee Student?
    - Joy Ehikioya, University of Trento
    The University Community is Still For Me

13.15 - 14.30 Lunch Break

14.30 - 17.00

Session II: At-risk Scholars and University Strategies of Protection 
Moderator: Ester Gallo, University of Trento

  • Marit Egner, University of Oslo 
    Increasing the Network to Support Researchers At Risk in Europe
  • Mubashar Hasan, SAR Scholar, University of Oslo
    The Cost of Asking Dangerous Question 
  • Stephen Wordsworth, The Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA)
     ‘What do At-Risk Scholars Really Need? - Different Ways of Helping’
  • Ekrem Duzen, Bielefeld University 
    Experiential Insights for a Scholar at Risk Program: From Planning to Mentoring
  • Gabriele Nicoli, Francesca Helm and Claudia Padovani, University of Padova 
    Learning by Doing. The Padova Experience with SAR: Hosting and Networking 

17.00 - 17.30 Coffee Break

17.30 - 19.00 

Projection of the Documentary 
‘Science in Exile. Four Researchers in Flight from War, Their Dream of Science in Time of Peace’ (37’)
Director: Nicole Leghissa
Producer: The World Academy of Science (TWAS) 
Introduces: Roberta Altin, University of Trieste 

20.00 - 22.00 Social Dinner

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

‘How to Host’:  Sharing Good Practices and Plans Ahead

During this session, we will present and discuss the ongoing protection programs for students and scholars developed by some of the institutions that are members of SAR Italy. Drawing also from other European experiences, the aim is to identify specific legal, economic, administrative, educational/research strategies and to start planning future collaborations.  

9.00 - 11.00

  • Graziella Gaglione, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’ 
    The Experience of Sapienza University of Rome with Regards to Refugees and Migrant Youth
  • Andrea Pendezzini, University of Turin 
    The reception of refugee students at the University of Turin: The UNIRESST, passi@unito and UNIT-EDU projects
  • Alessandro Caforio, International Telematic University UNINETTUNO
    University for Refugees and Rebuild Project: A New Mission for Higher Education 
  • Elena Asciutti, European University Institute
    The EUI Refugee Initiative
  • Uoldelul Chelati Dirar, University of Macerata
    From Istanbul to Macerata: A Brief Experience of Solidarity
  • Ester Gallo, Barbara Poggio and Paola Bodio, University of Trento
    Forced Displacement, The University and the City: Reflections from the Trento Experience 

11.00 - 11.15 Coffee Break

11.15 - 12.45

  • Debate and Concluding Remarks

12.45 - 14.00 Lunch 

14.00 - 17.00

  • SAR Italy national Assembly (only for SAR Italy delegates) Location: Meeting Room II, Department of Sociology and Social Research (II Floor)


scholarsatrisk [at]
equitadiversita [at]