With the assistance of a €440,000 Erasmus + grant, CEU will be able to upscale its weekend courses for registered refugees in Hungary and offer a full-time, non-degree university preparatory program for refugees across the European Economic Area (EEA). The programs, jointly known as OLIves (Open Learning Initiatives), now consist of the weekend program, OLIve-WP, and the fulltime program, OLIve-UP. OLIves administrators will base the full-time OLIve-UP program on CEU's Roma Access Programs (RAP), an initiative in its twelfth year that prepares talented Roma students to pursue graduate-level education at universities in Europe (including CEU) and beyond. CEU experts will lead the initiative, which will be conducted with the University of Vienna (UV), the University of East London (UEL) and the European Network Against Racism (ENAR). The Erasmus + grant will allow OLIve-UP to run for two years while other fundraising efforts run simultaneously.
"We saw the need and desire for further opportunities for higher education preparation among our refugee students," said Prem Kumar Rajaram, CEU associate professor, coordinator of the Erasmus + grant and OLIve-UP co-director. "For many of our students, the option of furthering their studies in their home countries was not possible or was cut short by war and ongoing violence. The OLIve-UP program will not only aid refugee scholars in perfecting their English-language skills, but will acclimate them to the European higher education system and allow them to work with other international students and academics in their field of choice."
At CEU, OLIve-UP will be an intensive nine-month (one academic year) university preparatory program for registered refugees in the EEA. Courses will focus on academic English, advocacy skills training and university preparatory courses with the principle aim being to prepare students to be successful BA and MA students at universities throughout Europe. A dedicated administrative team will assist students throughout the program, helping them identify university programs and scholarships and assisting them with applications. The first OLIve-UP session starts in January 2017 and lasts until June 2017.
OLIves at CEU partner universities will be tailored to their strengths and areas of expertise, but will be based on the thriving models at CEU.
"The University of Vienna's aim in partnering with CEU for OLIves is to initiate meaningful contact between refugee students and Austrian students and young academics, in order to jumpstart integration into the European community," said Professor Katharine Sarikakis, chair of the Media, Governance and Industries Research Lab at the University of Vienna and coordinator of the joint OLIves project with CEU.
Based on Sarikakis's expertise and position as a prominent media and communications expert, UV's OLIves program will involve academic tutoring to prepare refugee participants to enter higher education in Austria, modeled after the University Preparation Programme for the Vienna Universities. In addition to traditional studies, participants will be involved in academic life and also take field trips to Austrian public media organizations.
Beginning in September 2017, UEL will launch their nine-month OLIve-UP program, based on their well-established, successful "Foundations" course. This course guarantees students who successfully complete the year a place in the BA/BSc degree programs in UEL's School of Social Sciences, or in any of the other six faculties within the university.
ENAR, formed in 1998, is the only pan-European anti-racist network that combines advocacy for racial equality with facilitating cooperation among civil society anti-racist actors in Europe. ENAR will be responsible for leading the advocacy work central to all OLIves at partner universities at the national and EU levels. Experts at the organization will produce policy papers and work directly with OLIve and OLIve-UP students through internships and/or training sessions to transfer tools and skills for advocacy on behalf of refugee populations.
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Dr. Olga Kolokytha
Senior Researcher, University of Vienna