Refugees facing difficulties to enter the university

Teksti: Marie Pignot
Kuvat: Rym Salaa
Florian, Marie and Tanja are helping refugees to integrate them in the university.

MAMUEF is a pilot project started in May 2017 to increase the awareness of refugees about university education in Finland. Three exchange students are involved in the project since September and plan to set up a meeting place to connect people with refugee background and Finnish students.

“This project was an opportunity to discover new cultures and new people, and above all be active to help these new residents in Kuopio”, tells Florian Herbé, a French exchange student involved in the MAMUEF project.

Since the end of September, three exchange students, Tanja Senfter, Florian and me, have met a group of young migrants, for the most of them with a refugee background from Syria, in order to find a solution to integrate them in the university. Indeed all of them want to continue their studies and graduate in Finland.

“There will be more and more refugees in the coming years and Finland will need people with refugee background in higher professions to understand and face this new population. They share the same story”, says Senfter.

Over past few years, Finland has been imposed a quota of refugees to host. Many of them are highly educated and want to continue their studies in Finland. But this is not so easy, especially if nobody inform them about the different possibilities to do that. That’s where the MAMUEF-project is trying to help.

Csilla Veszteg, one of the people responsible for this pilot, gathered a group of 28 new refugees and invited UEF staff members and experts from Savonia and Karelia University of Applied Sciences to introduce university education and share knowledge about studying programs and conditions. Student Union was also invited to speak with the group and think of a solution to help them to be more included in the university. Then students and staff members with various cultural and study background came to meet the group to tell their own story, their own way to university in Finland. According to Veszteg:

“These were very inspiring motivation talks. If these people succeed in university, our group can succeed too!”

Simply, students in university can not do much to help them but they can ensure that they feel supported in university, even if they are not yet considered to be students. For that, Herbé, Senfter and me want to set up a meeting place at the university two times per week for two hours. These meetings will be an occasion for new residents to meet Finnish students and practice the Finnish language, which is very useful if they want to enter the university. The idea is also to involve university staff members to help immigrants with administrative work and answer their questions about the university.

We invested time and energy to this pilot but after one month we will all move to our home country and do not come back to Kuopio.

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