Since 2015 an increasing number of migrants have been trying to reach Europe to apply for asylum, fleeing from wars and conflicts in many countries in Asia and Africa. This flow of people caused a humanitarian emergency in Europe.
Since many asylum seekers and refugees were relocated in Trentino, the University of Trento decided to support their reception through the opening of a University programme for a group of selected individuals who are already in our region as asylum seekers and/or under international humanitarian protection, and have the necessary qualifications to attend university.
The University of Trento launched this initiative in collaboration with the Autonomous Province of Trento, Cinformi and Opera Universitaria, which drafted a memorandum of understanding for academic year 2016/2017 and beyond, so that every year 5 students will receive a scholarship and proper accommodation for a duration to be determined, but at least for the three years necessary to complete a degree course. The parties to the agreement are the University, the Department for Health and Social policies, and the Department for University, research, youth policies, equal opportunities and development cooperation.
The project is coordinated on behalf of the Prorector for Equality and Diversity Policies, Barbara Poggio, by Paola Bodio, Nataša Vučković, and several offices of the Student and Academic Services Division:
- the University’s orientation service;
- the teaching support division;
- the University’s language centre (CLA) as regards Italian language courses;
- the international relations division.
The University started the pilot phase in the second semester of 2015-2016 with 5 students with the following goals:
- provide guidance on academic choice;
- assess the students’ foreign qualifications so that they can attend single courses and later enrol in degree courses from the following academic year;
- exempt students from tuition fees due for single courses and Italian language courses for foreign speakers;
- reserve a number of spots for asylum seekers, if all departments agree on the proposal, to facilitate their access to education given that all courses have admission test and places are limited;
- provide support and guidance through the tutoring service;
- provide support in the enrolment process from the next academic year and help students apply for scholarships and accommodation at Opera Universitaria.
In addition to this project, other initiatives have been launched by students and teaching staff of the University.
Adotta un@ studente
The fundraising campaign "Adotta un@ studente" aims to raise donations to give students a small monthly allowance to help pay for essential expenses.
In its first edition the campaign, which was launched on the World Refugee Day in 2018, raised donations that were paid out to students from January 2019. The funds were used to provide 11 students with a monthly amount of about 75 euro for their daily expenses.
The “Adotta un@ studente" fundraising is still open and will run until 31 December 2019.
SuXr Project – Students for refugees project
The project is part of the actions that the University of Trento is implementing, in collaboration with Cinformi and the Autonomous Province of Trento, with the objective of encouraging the social integration of migrants through the collaboration with the University and its students.
It must be noted, in fact, that there is an increase not only in the number of arrivals, but also in the number of people, students included, who are participating in volunteer activities to support this type of migrants. In this context, many associations and cooperative organizations that provide help to migrants are playing a key role.
A pilot phase of the project took place in the month of June 2016 with a series of meetings and continued with volunteerism activities in local organizations. The project was expanded based on the experience learned. Another series of meetings took place between 8 November 2017 and 11 December 2017.
The activities that the participants can choose from in cooperation with local organizations and cooperatives take students’ skills into account. The participants can choose from:
- basic computer lessons (at UniTrento);
- visits to the region;
- sport activities;
- conversations and lessons in Italian;
- legal assistance;
- Tandem volunteerism;
- job guidance;
- awareness raising campaigns in schools;
- organization of cultural events.
The primary aim of the project is to raise awareness among students on the issue of refugees and asylum seekers. In parallel, it also aims to engage students in volunteerism through a participatory approach. Finally, the project also serves as a meeting point for supply and demand of volunteering services. The organizers hope that the participating students, after the training sessions and the time volunteered, will continue to be personally interested in the issue and engaged in volunteering associations and their activities.
Bibliography (in italian)
Computer literacy for refugees
The project is part of the actions that the University of Trento is implementing, in collaboration with Cinformi and the Autonomous Province of Trento, with the objective of encouraging the social integration of migrants through interaction with the University and its students.
Computer literacy for refugees, now in its fourth edition, is promoted by Prorector Barbara Poggio, and organized by Professor Cristiano Vezzoni and his colleague Alberto Sanna, with collaboration from the department of Sociology and Anna Brugnolli, reference person for Cinformi (PAT).
The purpose of the project is to provide migrants (especially those who have received little or no education) with basic computer skills that will be useful during their stay in Italy. The courses include the following subjects: main hardware components of a computer system, basic functions of an operating system (file system and file management), use of the most common word processor software and web browsers.
The programme takes into account the tools that students have access to (therefore teaching staff often compare computers and smartphones, for those who do not have a computer) and stimulates students’ thinking, encouraging self-learning abilities.
Last year about 30 young people, from different states experiencing conflicts, participated in the course and received a certificate of attendance. The courses (two types of courses are offered: computer literacy and basic computer skills) take place in Trento at the department of Sociology, and in Rovereto, at CIMeC, Palazzo Fedrigotti, with many university students collaborating as teachers and tutors.
Trento - Laboratorio 13 at the Department of Sociology
The course has been previously offered:
- Tuesday from 19.00 to 20.30, from 31 January to 11 April 2017
- Monday from 19.00 to 20.30, from 13 February to 11 May 2017
The programme of the next course will be on-line soon.
Rovereto - Aula multimediale, Palazzo Fedrigotti
- computer literacy (with Martina Puppi)
on Tuesday from 17.30 to 19.00, from 27 June to 25 July 2017
Basketball: a world in a word
The massive arrival of refugees is a huge challenge for Europe. Providing them food, accommodation and education is a priority, but sport and physical activity can play an important role for their integration and wellbeing.
To implement the Pilot project “Promoting health-enhancing physical activity across Europe”, encouraged by the European Union with a focus on the promotion of HEPA (health enhancing physical activity) policy measures and actions for refugees, Aquila Basket aims to establish a basketball team made up of people from different countries with a passion for sport.
The University of Trento participates in the project as a partner within its “Studenti universitari per i rifugiati (SuXr)” project, to involve students in volunteering activities for asylum seekers and refugees in the Province of Trento, together with CINFORMI, ATAS and Centro Astalli.
Aquila Basket developed a project for refugees in the past season too, “One team, one world”, with 40 displaced persons who trained three times a week for eight months: two coaches of Aquila Basket joined the project and the team’s professional players motivated the participants to give visibility to the initiative.
However, the team they created will participate in tournaments with refugee teams from other universities and play with other local teams in the region.
The project has several goals:
- improve the wellbeing of asylum seekers during their stay in Trento, with fun, socialization and integration events;
- strengthen the relationship among asylum seekers from different countries through group work;
- facilitate their integration within the local community by creating relations with various local entities (university students, supporters, trainers, etc.);
- help them improve their language skills through communication with Italian volunteers involved in the project;
- promote access to sport practice and physical activity.
The project will involve about 100 refugees in different types of activity: sport, training, awareness raising and information campaigns. The core group is made up of those who will be members of the team, who will train once a week in a gym to increase their sport and language abilities and facilitate interaction between asylum seekers and volunteers.
A control group will be involved in the research activity to take note of all communication, training and social aspects. Women (both refugees and asylum seekers) will be involved as far as possible, even if basket is a sport where physical differences between men and women are significant. They will provide support to the organization of training sessions and in other events or be active observers, in both the volunteer group and the control group.
The goal of the project is to raise awareness locally on the problem of the integration of migrants through the great media impact of a professional sport team.
Project presentation: 13 October 2017
Cinformi News: Richiedenti asilo "Sotto canestro" – profughi sul campo con Aquila Basket
Italian and refugee’s languages: a seminar for master’s students
The seminar on second-language (L2) acquisition which took place in the academic year 2016-2017 for students of the masters in Philology and literary criticism and Euroamerican literatures, translation and literary criticism at the Department of Humanities, included a series of meetings with speakers of foreign languages. The purpose of the meetings was to introduce the seminar participants to the motivations and learning processes involved in L2 acquisition through specific literature but also through one-to-one encounters with asylum seekers who had recently arrived to Trento and were learning Italian.
At the end of 2016, thanks to collaboration from CINFORMI and the Prorectors’s Office of the University of Trento, the organizers identified a number of young refugees interested in participating in the project.
The seminar, which started in February 2017 and has just ended, was therefore divided in two parts: a common part for all the participants and another part with language meetings for the master’s students and refugees.
The common part, at the Department of Humanities, included a presentation of the participants and their mother tongues, a meeting with a representative from CINFORMI and another with an Italian teacher at the refugees centre in Marco. Two volunteers who helped with Italian conversations with refugees at the Fersina refugees centre were present.
For the second part of the seminar, students were paired with refugees. Each couple organized about ten meetings in which they carried out a series of planned activities (writing a socio-linguistic report, collecting data on the refugee’s language, dictating a brief text in Italian) and optional activities (visiting the library, the municipal library, the department; performing other tasks to assess the Italian L2 level).
Thanks to this initiative, students were able to experience language diversity first hand, the role that motivation plays in foreign language acquisition, the processes involved in learning foreign languages and, in addition to this, were able to meet people who are giving their best to start a new life, including by learning a new language. Tanhah speaks for all the refugees: “I am very happy to attend language meetings”.
CusCus is based on volunteering and is one of the projects selected through the call for proposals for projects “Intrecci Possibili 2017”, launched by Fondazione Trentina del Volontariato Sociale and Centro Servizi Volontariato Trentino. The project is run by a number of partner organizations: Associazione Docenti Senza Frontiere Onlus, ATAS Onlus, CoderDolomiti, Impact Hub, Food Connects People, Collettivo PickMeUp.
The purpose of CusCus is to facilitate the integration, socialization and empowerment of migrants, and migrant women in particular, through a powerful and cross-cultural instrument: food.
CusCus will use two equally powerful instruments to create opportunities and connections: digital technologies and business culture.
The project aims to involve a group of men and women (migrants and non-migrants) in experiences and cultural activities that are focused on cooking, technologies, and creative entrepreneurship.
People can participate as course takers or volunteers, in the latter case to support training activities in digital technologies at basic and intermediate level (modules TED1 and TED2).
For more information on the project:
Mobile: +39 334 344 62 41
info [at] cuscus.org
The project Wikipedia4Refugees involves a group of highly educated migrants in a course that aims to improve their IT skills through the active use of Wikipedia.
The participants, led by a team of Wikipedia advanced users from all over Italy, will translate some entries of the free online encyclopedia from Italian into their mother tongues, mostly African and Asian languages.
The entries they will translate regard, for example, rules of international law on refugees protection, geography, culture, citizenship education.
The project, which received funding from the prestigious Wikimedia Foundation, is supported by Cinformi, which selected the participants among asylum seekers, and by the University of Trento, which provides a computer room and technical staff.
The project is part of a wider series of initiatives promoted by the University to facilitate the reception and integration of migrants.
For more information visit the project page
- Press release (in italian)