Strong interest in refugee issue
Interest in getting involved in the refugee crisis has exceeded expectations. The University’s two coordinators have received loads of emails, some of which have already resulted in concrete plans and activities.
In early December, LiU decided to identify ways it could help out in the refugee crisis. Since then, the university’s two coordinators Per Larsson and Veronica Brodén Gyberg have focussed mainly on three areas.
“For the first few months we worked a lot on gaining an overview of the situation, and on networking, and we’ll continue with these for the rest of the spring. But we’re going to start devoting more time to visiting university departments and divisions, so we can spread information and discuss ideas,” says Veronica Brodén Gyberg.
The team has identified university programmes that are already underway, as well as activities and projects at the university that in different ways are aimed at people who have recently come to Sweden. For instance there are supplementary programmes for doctors and teachers with foreign training, courses in Swedish for international students, and training for foreign academics, including Korta vägen. This year LiU will start a fast-track programme for teachers. LiU has also responded to the Swedish government’s enquiry about supplementary training for psychologists, biomedical analysts and nurses.
“We monitor these and other responses we have submitted, so we can talk about it in our meetings within the university and with other organisations and government agencies that we collaborate with in refugee-related issues,” says Veronica Brodén Gyberg.
Employees, individually or in groups, students and student organisations, as part of their regular operations or as an extra initiative – there is a lot of work going on.
“We’re having two workshops this spring, one in Linköping on 31 March and one in Norrköping on 21 April where we will get together, exchange experience and find ways forward for the various initiatives. So far more than 30 people have signed up, from different parts of the university.”
Gaining an overview of the situation, and networking, consist of collaboration with other actors in the region and across the country, to understand what they are doing and to investigate what LiU can do.
“Another area where LiU could do more is contract education, for instance training for people who work with new arrivals in various ways, employees from municipalities or other government agencies,” says Veronica Brodén Gyberg.
When it comes to national activities, in February the coordinators took part in an Association of Swedish Higher Education seminar for all Swedish universities on the refugee situation, as well as a conference at the University of Gothenburg on the education of refugees, organised by the network Include. Experiences are exchanged with other universities, most recently with Umeå University and Malmö University.
“Other universities work with more or less the same processes and activities as we do, with slightly different focusses and organisation. We can learn a lot from each other.”
The second area the coordinators are working on is internships. The Swedish government has told the country’s government agencies to create one thousand internships per year from 2016 to 2018, for recent arrivals with work permits. Every part of the university’s wide range of activities is of interest. A few departments and divisions have expressed interest and routines are being developed for matching job seekers to vacancies, and other formalities. The Swedish Foundation for Strategic Environmental Research (Mistra) will finance supervision for interns with academic training within the framework of one of its research projects. Internships are already part of training for foreign academics, including Korta vägen, and will also be a component in the fast-track programme for teachers.
The third area is about developmental grants. Funding is available for student associations and employees who want to do something relating to LiU’s initiatives for refugees. An example is law students who give legal advice to asylum seekers. Another is teachers and students at the teacher’s training programme who held a visual workshop for asylum seeking children and their parents, a success that they want to continue doing. Remeso’s MigraMovies initiative has also received funding.
Veronica Brodén Gyberg and Per Larsson have received hundreds of emails since the project got started. Veronica can see that interest is huge. She believes that LiU’s initiatives in the refugee issue satisfy people’s need for getting involved, as well as providing a way to speed up the pathway into Swedish society.
“It’s great fun, working with this, being at the centre of the network,” she says. “Meeting people, understanding relationships and making connections, it’s very rewarding. We’re in the process of creating internal as well as external networks, and as we progress things are becoming more concrete.”
Read more about LiU’s initiatives in refugee issues (in Swedish)
Elisabet Wahrby 2016-03-09
Last updated: 2016-03-21