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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

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Higher education for migrants and refugees


The Commission funds projects and disseminates successful practices in the field of education for migrants and refugees. Among the many initiatives coordinated, language skills and the recognition of qualifications, in particular those from outside the EU, are key issues.

Support for institutions

The Erasmus+ programme funds project-based support for programme country higher education institutions (HEIs) and partner countries around the world, including in countries that are principle sources of migration to Europe. Two types of projects are particularly relevant for higher education institutions: 

Support for students

The European Commission has offered 100,000 refugees and newly arrived migrants access to Online Linguistic Support. The initiative aims to help individuals integrate into their host society by providing the opportunity to learn the local language. 

Inspiring projects

Erasmus+ has many inspiring projects in the field of higher education and refugees. These can be accessed via the Erasmus+ project results platform. The platform contains information on a wide range of projects that have supported the integration of migrants and refugees in the EU.   

In addition, the following are examples of projects aiming to improve the recognition of qualifications held by refugees supported by the Commission: 

  • The ENIC-NARIC guide for credential evaluators assist with the recognition of qualifications presented by refugees
  • The European Recognition Manual for HEIs is a recognition manual for credential evaluators. It has been developed as part of the European Area of Recognition Project (EAR). The manual contains shared standards and clear guidelines on all aspects of the recognition of foreign qualifications. It aims to provide credential evaluators from higher education institutions with a practical tool informing them how to apply the principles of the Lisbon Recognition Convention, including the recognition of refugees.
  • Information on academic recognition procedures for refugee students and graduates wanting to work or study
  • A toolkit to help evaluators to introduce fair and streamlined procedures for recognising qualifications held by refugees. The toolkit provides profiles of the education systems of relevant third countries, e-learning modules and a set of detailed guidelines for introducing effective procedures. 
  • A follow-up project, REACT – Refugees and Recognition – also financed under the Erasmus+ programme, includes participation from ENIC-NARIC recognition offices in Europe and Canada, selected higher education institutions in Europe, the European University Association, the European Students’ Union and KIRON Open Higher Education for Refugees. 

Support for researchers

The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) of the EU Horizon 2020 programme provides high-quality training and career development opportunities in Europe for researchers of any nationality who are working towards a PhD or post-doctoral qualifications. 

Displaced researchers, for instance with refugee status, who have had their studies interrupted can benefit from a variety of programme features, including:

  • The Career Restart (CAR) Panel, which supports post-doctoral researchers resuming their research careers in Europe. This Panel is reserved for those who have been absent from research for at least a year for any reason. The Guide for Applicants provides further information.
  • MSCA eligibility criteria, which seek to limit funding disadvantages for researchers who have suspended their activities while applying for refugee status. Time spent in a country while waiting for refugee status to be granted will not be counted towards a 'period of residence or activity’ in the country of the host organisation. This enables refugee researchers to apply for an MSCA Individual Fellowship in their host country.
  • Organisations providing pre- and post-doctoral training are encouraged to provide activities that improve displaced researchers integration prospects.

Starting on 1 September 2019, the MSCA programme is funding a Coordination and Support Action in support of Researchers at Risk. The “InSPIREurope” project puts together a coordinated, cross-sectoral, Europe-wide alliance for researchers at risk. It facilitates transnational cooperation between key stakeholders across Europe to increase opportunities for researchers at risk in the academic and beyond. 

The MSCA also fund several research projects broadening our understanding of forced migration.