AUC is a community that believes in equal opportunity for all. We believe factors such as countries of origin, race, ethnic background, gender, sexuality and all other ways of differentiation shouldn’t limit acces to education.
Right2Education is an opportunity for refugees to access an education in which they are able to learn Dutch (A1-B1) and English at various levels (A1-C1). In the environment of Amsterdam University College, they are no longer refugees but guests, which is why we like to refer to them as guest students.
As with any education, we think it’s important to have a balance between the academics and social activities which is why we also organise social events such as potlucks, ice skating and movie nights.
We believe it is no longer enough to be witnesses of what is known as the “refugee crisis”. This initiative is about getting involved, taking a stand and contributing to the search for equality and justice.
We created a buddy system in which guests students are paired up with an AUC student in order to facilitate integration and enable both parties to get to know each other better in a safe and secure environment. Together, they go to parties, dinners, museums, excursions, bike tours and also just simply hang out. By doing this, our guest students have already taught us so much, especially in terms of creating a community which goes beyond traditional notions of nationality and language.
Since January 2016, we have opened up classes to over 100 refugees. These courses are taught both by AUC students and official teachers. In both cases, the material taught is exactly the same and guarantees them a certificate proving their proficiency given they manage to pass the exam.
AUC students teach in groups of 2 and twice a week for 3 hours. During the intensive periods (either January or June) guest students can attend official language classes alongside fellow AUC students.
We have decided to introduce English classes too as we realised this would enable us to reach out to more potential students. We are working with Anglia Network Europe, an internationally recognised language center, to design lesson plans, materials and organise teacher training. We now offer English A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and IELTS preparation.
At first we contacted the municipality of Amsterdam in December 2015. They provided us with a list of interested refugees of which eventually the majority became part of our first cohort of guest students at AUC in January. We have recently decided to alter the selection process since most of the students selected were in fact non-status holders. The uncertainty of not holding a status created a lot of instability as guest students would suddenly have to leave their language course so as to be transferred to another processing center in the Netherlands to finalise their procedure.
Our selection process for statusholders now consists of an online form published on various social media platforms, through which refugees can sign up for an application session. During this first session, Right2Education is introduced and English and Dutch levels are tested to determine whether or not someone is able to follow language courses with Right2Education. Once accepted, the guest students are paired up with an AUC student as part of the “buddy system”.
We have also been seeking projects locally based in Amsterdam hosting status holders. Of these projects, we have effectively collaborated with Gastvrij Oost who has been a great partner in providing our guest students with language classes and social events.
We are currently working to integrate some of our guest students in AUC as official students. These are refugees with a advanced level of English and are thus able to apply through the normal application procedure any potential AUC student must follow. The refugee students are hereby also eligible for scholarships.
Now that we are an official "Stichting" (foundation), we are working towards spreading Right2Education to other universities and institutions, starting off with University Colleges in the Netherlands. We hope the similar environment and structure will encourage students to take action and start an initiative like that of Right2Education