Migrant background

Migrant background students

Migrant background students are underrepresented in higher education due to lower access and participation and high attainment rates. This can lead to unemployment and a higher risk of poverty and social exclusion.

According to the Joint Education and Training Working Group, third country nationals are more likely to have a low level of achievement in education (44% vs. 23% for EU citizens) and are at significantly higher risk of early leaving (25.8% in 2014, compared to 10.3% for host country nationals), despite recent decreases. While the gap for the early school leaving rate is smaller for second-generation migrants, it is often still significant.

Within the SMILE project, a summary and state of the art will be developed to get a better understanding of the current situation of migrant background students in higher education in Europe. In addition, the audit model that allows HEIs to self-reflect on how they are addressing diversity, will include a section focussing on this group of students. A CPD course addressed both to academic and non-academic university staff will help to understand the barriers that students with a migrant background face and how to support them. Finally, a set of policy recommendations will provide institutional leaders and decision makers with ideas on how to implement positive changes.

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You can watch now our webinar on Migrant background students organised by the University of Malta (MT) with the  Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz (DE) and the Fundació Solidaritat UB (ES). 

SMILE CPD course for HE staff on Inclusion of migrant students

Europe has a history of migratory flows out of and into its territory. Exchange and mobility constitute a historical given. Freedom of movement, a mainstay of EU policy within its geographical space, is symptomatic of a continent’s history marked by humanity’s urge, forced or wanted, to move across real or imaginary borders.

However, migration often is perceived as a threat. This SMILE CPD course for HE staff intends users to reflect on migration, inclusion and diversity as an opportunity and to understand better the circumstances of migration and the challenges that are faced.


You can now download the course and start using it straight away.

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