The University of the Aegean (UAeg) was founded in 1984. It is a Network University of “academic ports of studies and research”, successfully established on six (6) islands (Lesvos, Lemnos, Chios, Samos, Rhodes and Syros) spread across the Aegean Sea and offers a unique academic, natural, cultural and human environment. The plethora of University's research projects is designed to improve the regional innovation, capabilities for human capital development, entrepreneurship and technology transfer, career development, and mobility of researchers. The University of the Aegean has approximately 500 teaching and research staff members and 304 administrative staff members with activities in the following research areas: information and communication technology, design and interaction design, sustainable development and environment, geography, GIS, meteorology-climatology, transport and shipping, culture and education, financial, economic and social sciences.
Since 2015, the UAeg has taken an active role in including refugees into the University. A summary of the Educational Support provided to the refugees is following.
Important actions —especially on the part of the university leaders working in partnership with the community partners (NGOs, United Nations, municipality, etc.)— new curricula and seminars were created in order to support the incomers and make university facilities more adaptable. The main initiatives focused on the admission of the refugees into university, the reintegration of skilled refugee scientists into the academic and research community, the training of refugees (languages, software skills), sessions of training the trainers, and contributions to the education of the refugee children.
The Erasmus + and the Directorate for Scholarships National Agency of Greece, after responding to a relevant call for expressions of interest, delivered to the University of the Aegean 2,000 language learning licenses online to be granted to refugees in the Aegean islands. These language licenses allow refugees to attend online courses for learning a foreign language from the 12 available languages and are part of the Online Linguistic Support (OLS) program of the European Commission. The aim of this action was to strengthen the language skills of refugees and to integrate them into European education and training systems. Online lessons are for people over the age of 12 and access is available from any device with Internet connection. More info at: http://erasmus.aegean.gr/en_GB/
The UAeg is teaching the Greek language to refugees for beginners or at an advanced level and has created a curriculum according to the guidelines of the Greek Language Centre (hereafter CGL) of the Ministry of Education (CGL 2018). At the same time, the UAeg conducts the examinations for the Greek language and provides the certificates. More info at: http://www1.aegean.gr/international/greek-courses.html
Science for Refugee Scientists in Aegean Archipelago (SCIREA)—Horizon project: This project focuses on skilled refugees and helps to integrate them into European academic institutions and to improve their qualifications. Tailor-made seminars and webinars were implemented and scholarships were given to refugee scientists to restart their academic career.
Bridge for Researchers in Danger Going to Europe, Part II (BRiDGE ΙΙ)—Horizon project: This project aims to enhance the support given to 300 skilled refugee researchers (RRs) in 24 project months, especially early- and late-stage postdoctoral researchers and professors of all ages, who are affiliated with a research institution in the European Research Area or a Research & Development department of a company and especially those displaced in the following countries: Germany (110 RRs), Sweden (40 RRs), Austria (60 RRs), Switzerland (10 RRs), Serbia (10 RRs), Bulgaria (10 RRs), and Greece (60 RRs). The UAeg is a partner in BRiDGE II by supporting a significant number of RRs to reintegrate into the research and academic community. The case-by-case support places a focus on career development services, training, and academic and industrial mentoring for the RRs. The project further aims to transfer the given knowledge and experience to the EURAXESS network, the largest relevant network in Europe involving 500 higher education and research institutions and services for mobile researchers.
Info at: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/International/projects/bridge/bridge.html
IT Courses: The University organizes several courses on Information and Communication Technology on its premises to support refugee skills in new technologies (Microsoft Office, e-mail management, website creation) or has supported several others of other institutions that wished to offer these courses.
An important training program for teachers wishing to educate refugee children is offered free of charge by the University of the Aegean. The training program’s duration is 300 hours (150 hours for each subject), and two main subjects are covered: (a) Language and Bilingualism in Intercultural Environments and (b) Digital Literacy in Intercultural Environments.
The UAeg is organizing a series of school education programs. Some of them also involve the participation of refugee children from the educational primary and secondary levels.
One important University initiative of the University is the Refugee and Migration Crisis Observatory. The Depositary offor the Refugee and Migration Crisis Observatory in the Aegean is supported by the National Documentation Center, the University of the Aegean, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. Its objectives are to collect, process, classify, digitize, and publicize various categories of evidence related to the refugee and migratory crisis in the Aegean. The Depository objective is to be a key source of reliable information and reporting to the research community in Greece and abroad, local communities as well as public administration and humanitarian authorities and the displaced people themselves. More info at: https://refugeeobservatory.aegean.gr/en
The UAeg organizes a series of summer courses to study the refugee phenomenon such as one entitled “Cultures, migrations, borders,”, which examines migrationsmigration processes and the ‘“refugee crisis’. Alsocrisis”.
More info at: https://summer-schools.aegean.gr/MigBord2018
In addition, significant conferences werehave been organized such as the “Lesbos Dialogues” (9–11/11/ November 2017) on Mytilene (Lesbos) by the University of Agder, Norway and the Municipality of Lesvos, in cooperation with the UAeg (University of Agder 2019).