Arqus universities organize the second webinar about how to enable refugees in the European Higher Education Sector

Students working together in front of a PC

On 24th November 2021 from 10 am to 12.30 pm CET, Arqus will be organizing a webinar entitled “Learning on the margins: programmes for students and scholars at risk”.

After the success of the first webinar “Challenges and opportunities for refugee students in the European Higher Education Sector – from best practices to institutional strategies” held on 1st July 2021, the task force “Enabling refugees” of Action Line 2 would like to invite all Arqus university members to the second of this year’s two webinars on “Learning on the margins: programmes for students and scholars at risk”.

In the second webinar, the task force has decided to go beyond the question of refugee access to higher education and to encompass issues related to both students and scholars at risk from a broader perspective. The tragic and shocking events taking place recently in Afghanistan and at the Belarussian border have prompted task force members into questioning the role of Arqus in raising awareness of emergency situations and in showing support in times of humanitarian crisis. For this reason, the task force has decided to invite an expert, Dovilė Jakniūnaitė from the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, to discuss briefly with participants the context of the Belarussian border crisis. It was deemed important that those involved in refugee access to higher education should reflect on the world events leading to students and scholars finding themselves “at-risk”.

The first presentation, given by Francesca Helm and Claudia Padovani from the University of Padova will illustrate the work of Scholars at Risk (SAR), an international network of higher education institutions, whose aim is to foster academic freedom by providing sanctuary for threatened scholars, taking action against attacks on higher education, and promoting discussion amongst staff and students. This introduction will lead to a discussion about the conditions in universities to support academic freedom in practice and the role of Arqus in promoting academic freedom.

The second presentation, given by Toma Limontaitė of Vilnius University, will illustrate support programmes at Vilnius University for students from Belarus. Although these students are not officially “refugees” as far as their legal status is concerned, given the political climate in their country, they are nevertheless considered to be “at-risk”. The talk will lead to reflection on how universities support students affected by conflict/students at risk, who are not necessarily “refugees” and the way in which Arqus go beyond the boxes of “refugees” and “access to university”.

The third presentation, given by Johannes Gebhardt of Leipzig University, will illustrate how support structures for scholars and students at risk work through networking by presenting the online platform Chance for science. Academics of German research institutions and academics who fled their country to Germany can use the platform to match research interests, exchange expertise, provide access to literature, offer invitations to guest lectures etc. The presentation will lead to a discussion of how academic interaction is able to facilitate access to a network of German universities and other academic research institutes. Also, it touches on the topic of the use of the term and status “refugee” and how such a network is able to go beyond that.

The members of the task force are very glad to have organized their second interactive webinar in order to address these issues and give new impulses on the topic. To do that, they would like to particularly encourage administrative and academic staff working in various projects to support refugees and asylum seekers in higher education institutions, as well as students and researchers with a refugee background to register (registration link below).

The webinar aims to inspire dialogue and will be a way to develop new ideas and strategies in order to dismantle barriers in tertiary education and to create a flexible model for support for students and scholars at risk.


  • Welcome:

Discussion: Recent events at the Belarussian border. Dovilė Jakniūnaitė, Institute of International Relations and Political Science, Vilnius University.

Presentation 1: Academic Freedom in Practice: SAR (Scholars at Risk). Francesca Helm, Claudia Padovani, University of Padua.

Presentation 2: Support programmes at Vilnius University for students from Belarus. Toma Limontaitė, Vilnius University.

Presentation 3: Chance for Science: A social network for refugeed and local scientists, academics and students. Johannes Gebhardt, Leipzig University.

  • Breakout session on the role of Arqus in protecting students and scholars at risk, raising awareness of refuge-related issues and promoting academic freedom.
  • Feedback from Breakout session.

The webinar will be run on Zoom, administered and moderated by the University of Padua.

Register until 23rd November at 12 pm CET, through the following link.