The round table “Italian universities at the forefront of access to education in Italy and in the world” was held on 6 December, organized as part of the EU-Passworld project co-financed by the European Commission through AMIF funds, which brought together the main Italian actors of the university corridors, a legal and safe way of access for refugee students.
UNICORE – University Corridors for Refugees is offering this year to 13 women and 38 refugee men residing in Cameroon, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, the opportunity to arrive in Italy in a regular and safe manner to continue studies in 33 Italian universities.
The project partners including UNHCR, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Caritas Italiana, Diaconia Valdese, Centro Astalli, Gandhi Charity promoted a debate to encourage the exchange of views and improve the project in the future. Many beneficiary students were present together with the universities.
Beneficiaries of the program are selected by the universities themselves on the basis of academic merit and motivation following a call published in April 2022 and will attend a two-year master’s degree program in Italy.
Before leaving, the students were able to attend an Italian language course made available by the Universities for Foreigners of Perugia and Siena and by the University of Notre Dame. This year the partnership was further enriched by the presence of Fondazione Finanza Etica, which will provide valuable support in facilitating the integration process of students in Italy by helping them access bank current accounts, opened at Banca Etica branches, and through internships within their offices.
«The Unicore program has changed my life: as you can imagine, a refugee does not have many opportunities to study or make plans for the future – said Bereket, one of the first students to benefit from the program -, UNICORE has given me hope. When I left Eritrea to go to Ethiopia I started studying business. This is how my passion for finance was born and when I was given the opportunity to continue my studies in Italy, I chose to stay in that branch. Once I graduate, my dream is to continue gaining experience, both by studying and working. If I can, one day I will go back to my country and maybe I will start my own business».
83% of refugees in the world live in developing countries where too often the opportunities to rebuild their future in dignity are absent. EU-Passworld aims to strengthen safe entry channels such as university corridors which offer refugees an alternative to dangerous journeys into the hands of smugglers.
Education pathways also aim to achieve an enrollment rate in education programs above 15% for refugees in countries of first asylum and in third countries. Globally, in fact, a dramatic picture emerges: only 5% of refugees have access to higher education against 38% of the non-refugee population. in Italy, Belgium and Ireland, the project intends to ensure that refugees can truly aspire to study and work paths line with their skills and talent, thus having the opportunity to demonstrate that they are a resource for the host countries, and not a burden as is too often they are perceived.