In the summer of 2017, we (Stichting Unity in Diversity) were starting our English language program. Many refugees who joined, wanted to further their education in institutions of higher education in The Netherlands. They needed assistance with the rigorous process. More importantly, they were worried about connecting with the student community.
We wondered if there was any database that contains socio-cultural projects going in in schools in The Netherlands. Such a database will make it easier for refugee students to envisage the kind of support they will receive to study and be successful. We contacted other stakeholders such as the Stichting UAF.
They informed us that they tried to work on a similar project in 2015 during the arrival of the larger number of refugees; however due to the rapid nature in which the situation evolved, as well as the springing up of many different projects all over the Netherlands, they were not able to proceed with such project, so they stopped.
They encouraged us to continue with this MUCT project, as it will aid their work, help them to go a step further in helping refugees with access to education, continuance and growing their social network while studying.
MUCT is an online free-access tool or database project, which provides information about projects, initiatives, activities and events across all institutions of higher education in the Netherlands, that are created especially for refugees. These projects can be educational (i.e. preparatory years, scholarship funds, tutoring for refugees students, etc.), or socio-cultural (i.e. athletic events, games, cultural excursions, food and drink meetings, language buddies, etc.). Projects featured in the database must be beneficial to refugee students and the entire school community.
All projects listed are aimed at refugees and other students who struggle with integration with the campus community, to encourage educational success, and to minimize dropout rates.
Bridging the contact gap between new or old students (especially refugee students) and the campus community.
Providing social and educational network for refugee students to enhance their inclusion in the campus community, and transition into professional life.
Providing access to programs that promote sustainable integration into Dutch society, both during and after studies.
Assisting the UAF with advice on projects across higher institutions in The Netherlands that aim at helping refugees students’ mental and social health. Reaching for holistic assistance to this population that reaches beyond initial enrollment, but also important next steps as how to thrive and succeed in their studies and amongst other students.
Inspiring other institutions to initiate similar projects or new projects to benefit refugee students among them, or to attract potential refugees who may wish to study with them.
Inspiring students to initiate similar projects or new projects.
RESEARCH & FINDINGS
This project has been evolving in a way that we had to adapt the structure and content of the database every time we made new discoveries, to be able to arrive at a tool that will be generally impactful.
We initially commenced with searching for only socio-cultural projects in institutions of higher education, and as it evolved, we extended our reach to educational, financial and job related projects. Despite this adaptation to meet the needs of refugee students, MUCT maintains the same core purpose; a complete and durable integration for refugee students within and beyond the student community.
Below, in the downloadable document, we explain the findings we made, in the process of creating the database.