Wageningen University and Research and Foundation for Refugee Students UAF have officially ratified their partnership yesterday. The university aims to double its number of refugee students.
© Sven Menschel
Rector Magnificus Arthur Mol and UAF director Mardjan Seighali signed a covenant in which they state that the collaboration will be intensified. The UAF offers refugees with an asylum status both guidance and financial support to follow a study programme in the Netherlands. The UAF and WUR have collaborated in the past, but this partnership had no official grounds.
There are currently five refugee students at WUR. Mol hopes to double this number. Additionally, WUR has become a member of the Scholars at Risk network, wherein two positions will be made available each year for scientists in dangerous situations. We are a small university when compared to some universities abroad, Mol stated, perhaps even smaller than the universities in the countries these people had to flee. ‘But we are an international university. Our students and staff also travel to countries where studying freely is not always a matter of course. Quality of life is one of the priority areas of this university. Therefore, it is important that we contribute to giving refugees a chance to keep developing during their stay here’, said Mol.
The WURth-while programme was also given ample attention. Since the start of this year, the programme offers refugees without asylum status the possibility to study courses at WUR free of charge. There are currently nine refugees without status in the courses that lecturers made available.
Mol stated that he would like the number of courses that refugees without status can join to increase further. According to the rector, there is a lot of support from the Wageningen community. His hopes were quickly answered: Marjolijn Dannenburg, one of the initiators of WURth-while, announced that there is already a total of 105 courses that have been opened to refugees. Nine students started courses in the second period, of which four had already followed courses during the first period.
The covenant that was signed yesterday fits right in the broad policy of ‘Refugees@WUR’, which was decided upon by the Executive Board earlier this year. This policy states, among other goals, that the university will commit to creating opportunities for internships and trainee posts for refugees. The university will also improve the internal and external communications regarding its refugee policy.