MUSIC – Making Universities Ready for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity

With the significant increase of enrolled international students, the role of university-employees becomes more important at all levels of the academic system. The project assumes that the integration of refugees, migrants and international students into the higher education system promises great opportunities, as it also enforces the internationalization of higher education and the promotion of positive developments in universities. (Borgwardt 2016).
The MUSIC-project (“Making Universities Ready for Social Inclusion and Cultural Diversity”) develops a comprehensive program for employees at European universities to break down barriers for international stu-dents, namely migrants and refugees, in the use of educational and administrative services.
Through the qualification of employees of different work areas and different occupational groups within the “microcosm university” the social inclusion of these groups is promoted. The decades-long immigration to Europe, the so-called “refugee crisis” in 2015/2016, as well as the increasing internationalization of universities, which was supported by numerous initiatives, effected that universities are confronted with a heterogeneous student body. This poses specific challenges for the universities.
The project aims at raising awareness among employees of the university for the inclusion of international students, in particular refugees and migrants from third-nations, and designing inclusion processes in the best possible way. This will open up the university in the sense of an inclusive self-image. Internal processes can be critically reflected likewise and, if necessary, modified. The employees (primary target group) can improve their intercultural and communicative skills, e.g. in the context of counselling or teaching. The focus of the project is based on concepts such as fair treatment (independent of religion, origin and gender), which can be linked to the current discourse of civic educational work and social science didactics. The project should not be limited to the individual level, but additional knowledge about structural levels should be conveyed by e.g. reflecting on power structures, analysing day-to-day political events, and increasing awareness for a particular approach to discrimination, stigmatisation and forms of group-related misanthropy.
Refugees and migrants are the secondary target group of the project. They will profit from the improved skills of the staff in the contact and advice centres.
In order to determine the exact needs for the concrete contents of the modules of the curriculum and to develop corresponding offers and exercises for further training, a needs analysis in the national contexts at the universities will be executed at first.
Building on this, the partners develop the modules of the curriculum by making full use of their common, sometimes specific, expertise.
The curriculum is divided into different modules:
1. self-reflection on (conscious or unconscious) prejudices against refugees/migrants
2. communication strategies in consulting as well as in the everyday exchange
3. (Inter)cultural diversity and intercultural learning
These three form the cross-sectional modules that are relevant for all groups of employees. Moreover, the respective occupational groups addressed require group-specific offers. These specific offers (e.g. only for university teachers) are the content of a fourth module consisting of target group-specific offers.
The training concept will be pilot-tested at a four-day workshop and critically evaluated within the project consortium. Here, groups of people from different levels of universities (administration, teachers and student-groups) should participate.