The UOC awards scholarships to some 40 refugees so that they can study languages and specialization certificates
Photo: Tim Gouw / Unsplash (CC)
Virgnia Snchez
Nutrition, Health and Development Cooperation are some of the subject areas they have chosen for their education

The scholarships come from the voluntary financial contribution made by students when enrolling at the University

A total of 36 refugees aged between 19 and 46 will be studying languages and specialization certificates at the UOC this semester, thanks to the scholarship programme for refugees and asylum-seekers that the University is running for the second time. Twenty of them have chosen languages, while the remaining sixteen have chosen specializations in the fields of nutrition, health, development cooperation, humanitarian aid, translation, marketing and quality management.

The students come from all over the world. Many of them are in Spain, while others will be studying from Norway, Algeria, Greece and Western Sahara. For all of them, it is an opportunity to continue with their studies despite having been forced to leave their homes because of armed conflicts, attacks on human rights, climate change or poverty.

The scholarship programme for refugees and asylum-seekers is funded by the money raised from the charitable enrolment, which consists of the voluntary contribution made by students when enrolling at the University. This programme serves to reaffirm University’s commitment to ensuring universal access to a university education. “At the UOC we strongly believe that higher education is a right and that everyone who wants to receive an education should be given the opportunity,” said Vice President for Globalization and Cooperation Pastora Martnez.

UOC students will be their mentors

Studying online is a challenge for many of the students on the programme. For this reason, as with the previous edition, the figure of the mentor has been included, a volunteer student at the UOC who will accompany each of them in their adaptation to the Virtual Campus and in their learning.

“For me,” said Sara Leon, who is repeating her experience as a mentor this year, “being a mentor is an incentive as it allows us to do our bit using our knowledge at the same time as sharing experiences with people who come from a very different social reality to ours.” RefugeESuoc, an initiative started by nine Social Education students, has been responsible for selecting the 36 mentors, who are studying on different courses at the University.

Likewise, the UOC has made a special tutor available to the scholarship holders to help them familiarize themselves with the Campus and its tools, as well as to give them individual care during the course and to sort out any technical or operational issues they encounter at the University.

Fostering classroom diversity

With the aim of educating people to enable them to face global and social challenges, the scholarship programme contributes to students all over the world being in the same space and being able to share their worlds. “In a globalized world,” said Gemma Xarles, director of Globalization and Cooperation at the UOC, “the knowledge of other realities, critical vision and intercultural dialogue are essential skills for students’ professional and personal development.” Similarly, it is a way of developing social sensitivity and of acquiring skills in the field of education for peace, human rights and the creation of diverse and inclusive societies.

With this scholarship programme, the UOC is contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations 2030 Agenda: to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The aim of this aid is to “provide university access to refugees or asylum-seekers who have been forced to leave their studies and homes to flee war, poverty or ideas and who live in a situation of economic and social vulnerability,” explained Vice President Martnez.

To prepare this second call for applications, the UOC collaborated with various local and foreign NGOs that work in caring for refugees and asylum-seekers. The scholarship holders receive support and advice from organizations such as ACCEM, Acnur, Casa Nostra Casa Vostra, CEAR-CCAR, CEAS-Shara, the Red Cross, ECHO, Fundaci Benallar, Fundacin Cepaim, Fundaci FICAT, Fundaci Futbol Club Barcelona, Lopex, RefugeESuoc or SAIER.