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.