The ‘Welcome Student-Refugees Program’: An Analysis of the Interviews

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:20
Oral Presentation
Mohammad SALMAN, Free University of Brussels, Belgium
The Vrije Universiteit Brussel developed ‘The Welcome Student-Refugee’ in 2015-2016 as a response to the great arrival of refugees. Its main purpose is to help recognized refugees start or proceed their studies at the university. It allows them to start a regular university programme by applying on a separate online registration application .
In the academic year (2016-2017), 45 recognized refugees started a bachelor or a master’s course at VUB: 40 Masters and 5 Bachelors. The majority follow the courses in English (41/45).
The VUB desired to have an idea of the main difficulties these students encountered during their first semester at VUB. Therefore, Dr. Mohamad Salman (Head of the program) and Dr. Florian Trauner started a small investigation in collaboration with five students (political sciences and teacher training).
They created a main questionnaire which would be used to conduct interviews with every refugee student that started his/her studies at VUB this year. The 45 students were contacted from February until May 2017. Although the number of respondents is small (13), it can give an idea of the challenges these refugee students encountered during their first semester at the university.
This paper gives a summary of the social, financial and administrative difficulties based on the input of the interviews. Each refugee student is different and encountered different complications, nevertheless, some challenges are general for a big part of the interviewees or for all of them.