Higher Education
supporting Refugees
in Europe

Harokopio University of Athens (EL) & Study in Greece NGO

Staff and students at Harokopio University of Athens realised that international students who wish to study in a Greek University have little or no available information. This inspired them to initiate a project called Study in Greece (SiG) aiming at providing directions from A-Z for international students and on actual support for their needs, such as registration and visa procedures. The importance of the project and its contribution became even larger with refugees who arrived in Greece, who can greatly benefit from studying, or continue their studies, at a Greek university and become part of the society.

The SiG initiative started on a voluntary basis, as an initiative of university students and faculty members at Harokopio University of Athens. It  very quickly grew exponentially, together with an expression of interest of students and potential students, the founders being members of the academic society of the Harokopio University of Athens. Soon, faculty members and students from other universities, such as the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, the Athens University of Economics and Business and Panteion University, joined the initiative which they decided should take the form of a non-governmental, non-profit organisation. The network is still expanding.

University of Jyväskylä Photo

© Study in Greece NGO.

Study in Greece (SiG) is now set up as a non-profit, non-governmental organisation, and nowadays it serves as the official gate of the Greek state for the provision of information regarding studying. It functions under the auspices of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.

Study in Greece for refugees has developed and maintains a special portal dedicated to the provision of education information and services to the refugees and their integration into the education structures. The information provided is continuously updated and covers information regarding:

  • Education initiatives: Greek and other languages lessons, computer, CV writing, etc., seminars
  • News: education initiatives and programmes for the refugees
  • Medical: hospitals
  • Distribution points of products: hygiene products, nappies, breakfast and lunch, food, clothing, medicine, books, household supplies, etc.
  • Shelter: emergency accommodation, shelter and shelter for unaccompanied minors, etc.
  • Legal: free legal advice
Impact & further development
The initiative that started out on a volunteering basis at Harokopio University of Athens, soon grew into a bigger collaboration of several Greek universities, and later formed as an NGO. The web-portal is now hosted by the Greek Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Education, Research and Religious Affairs.

Recently, Study in Greece members have developed two mobile applications, which are provided for free, for the assistance of refugees and asylum seekers:

  • Asylum Service Application”, in collaboration with the Greek Asylum Service (http://asylo.gov.gr/en/), Greek Ministry of Migration Policy. The project is funded by the European Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF). The application provides information in eight languages (Greek, English, French, Arabic, Farsi/Dari, Urdu, Amharic and Tigrinya) and covers issues such as:
    • asylum procedures
    • rights and obligations of asylum seekers
    • pre-registration, relocation and family reunification procedures
    • open accommodation points, transportation information, translation tools, weather forecasts
    • Skype communication with the Asylum Service
  • RefuGR” (http://www.refugr.com/), sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Athens, Microsoft Hellas, the Onassis Foundation and Impact Hub Athens. It provides information (in English, Arabic and Farsi) on:
    • NGOs and Services catering to refugees in Athens
    • hospitals
    • organisations that distribute clothing in Athens

SiG is also currently developing e-academia (www.e-academia.gr), a distance learning platform which will support the education activities of Study in Greece NGO. In that context and with regard to refugees, it will host the online Greek language courses which were developed by Study in Greece members. The courses are taught in Farsi and Arabic and cover the basics of the Greek language, and are structured in short, easy to follow, videos.
Study in Greece collaborates closely with the Greek Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Education and Universities. Both Ministries supported the initiative from the start and they host a link to the Study in Greece portal on their homepages. Greek embassies abroad also host a link on their web sites.
The initiative is based mainly on a volunteering basis.

The Study in Greece NGO, together with partners such as the Ministry of Education and a number of Greek universities, participates in EU-funded proposals and projects and applies for funding from foundations in order to support its operational expenses and development plans.