University West is involved in a range of activities for refugees. The following focuses on the internship and the democracy initiative.
Since the spring of 2016 University West has offered internships for newcomers and asylum seekers. The background to this initiative is due to two reasons: The Swedish government has commissioned all public authorities to offer internships to newcomers between 2016-2018 (in cooperation with Arbetsförmedlingen – Sweden’s public Employment Agency).
By cooperating with Migrationsverket, Arbetsförmedlingen and Korta Vägen, University West has been able to match and offer internships for a dozen of newcomers (with full residence rights) and asylum seekers. Some of the trainees are from Restad gård, the largest refugee camp in Sweden, near Trollhättan. The internships have been offered in many different parts of the university, in the faculties, library and administration office, for example. They have varied from 3-6 months and have covered a variation of tasks, from IT-support, teacher assistant duties and other administrative assignments. The main focus for the trainees during their time at the university has been to practise Swedish, getting to know how the university functions (as an educational institution and government agency) while at the same time receiving valuable work experience. Every trainee has been supported by a mentor, received an introduction to the university and also been offered career and study advice (for example by talking to study advisors, taking part in CV-workshops etc.) To match the available placements to interested applicants we organise special internship events together with Arbetsförmedlingen.
The Democracy Initiative:
This is a three-year project running from 1 January 2015 to 31 December 2017. The goal is to highlight relevant democracy questions in general, with a focal point of trying to open up University West to groups other than students and academics. Among the activities related to this project, two have been particularly directed to refugees: the Open Seminars and the Open Lectures.
Open Seminars: One of University West’s lecturers, together with master students in informatics, organised seminars directed towards refugees at the refugee camp Restad Gård. The master students organised four seminars based on a course they had already studied, using the literature from that course as reading material for the seminars. The goal was multiple: to provide an academic setting for refugees who had already studied in their home countries, to open up a path to a university for them and to increase and diversify learning outcomes for the master students.
Open Lectures: Staff at University West organised lectures covering a wide range of topics and disciplines. The goal was to provide a possibility for refugees to be in an academic setting, listen to a lecture, have discussions, etc. As of 2017 this focused on entrepreneurship, parenting and declaration of human rights.