Frequently Asked Questions by UU-teachers
If you can't find the answer to your question, please send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Incluusion students are students with a refugee background who enrol in one or more courses at the UU for free. Note that the questions below refer to the regular courses during the 4 blocks of the academic year. Most of the questions are also valid for the Utrecht Summer School, with some differences: for example, students that get accepted in the summer courses receive a certificate from the Utrecht Summer School directly rather than from Incluusion. Also, Incluusion doesn't offer specific guidance during the summer courses, since these are fulltime courses which start in different weeks.
Incluusion students are temporarily enrolled at the UU and regarded as regular students: they will need to meet all course demands and requirements. It also means they can make use of UU facilities, such as the library, Skills Lab and Career Services.
Incluusion students are entitled to do exams, write papers, and give presentations. However, sometimes it’s preferable for a student to follow the course as an auditor: this means they can sit in on lectures, but won’t make any assignments nor the final exam. They might prefer this, when they are (for instance) suddenly unexpectedly busy with their asylum procedure. The course coordinator has the discretionary power to decide the mode of participation for the Incluusion students.
Incluusion students do not receive EC (European Credits), even if they pass the course. Instead, they will receive a digital certificate for their participation at the end of the course if they fully attended the course and/or passed the exam.
We offer two types of digital certificates:
Certificate with a grade: students who completed the course successfully will receive a certificate with a grade.
Certificate of attendance: students who participated actively, but didn’t get a final grade will receive a certificate proving their attendance of the course.
It’s up to the teacher to decide which type of certificate the student receives at the end of the block. Both certificates can be issued by Incluusion.
We will contact all teachers at the end of each block to ask how the student performed.
Incluusion invites all new eligible students for an intake interview to discuss their academic background, their level of English, and their motivation to join the program.
Furthermore, the Incluusion students are required to sign an agreement with Incluusion to make them aware of their responsibilities (such as course attendance).
All the information gathered during the intake will be sent to the teacher, who will decide whether a student is suitable to attend the course or not. Incluusion does not have the final say in the student's acceptance; the teachers do.
Unfortunately, Incluusion has limited funding available for course materials, and students often do not have enough money to buy books and such.
Therefore, we kindly ask you whether it is possible to make the study material available for free. For instance, if you have any of the required books that they could borrow, or if you have a PDF version available. If not, we will tap into our resources and buy the necessary materials.
We have several ways of guiding our students and offering practical help:
- Restart: Refugees Studying - Academic Return Track. Restart is a two-day preparatory training which is followed by new Incluusion students. It is a deep dive into Dutch culture and the UU. Amongst other things, we talk about expectations from teachers and how to collaborate with fellow students.
- Buddy programme: if Incluusion students want to, they will be matched to a buddy. A buddy is a regular UU student who can help with the social and academic integration of an Incluusion student. For instance, by showing them around the campus, by helping them with the (quite complex) Blackboard, or by simply grabbing a cup of coffee every once in a while.
- Library Training: this training is offered a few weeks into the academic block, since that is the moment most students start working on papers.
- Online Check-in: during the block the Incluusion team organises an open hour online. Students can drop by, ask any questions they have, share positive experiences and possible concerns. It's a low threshold way for us to stay in touch with our students throughout the block.
- Laptops: Students without laptops can borrow one of ours for the entire academic block.
- Travel costs: not all students live in Utrecht and have money to pay for train and bus tickets. Incluusion has a limited budget available for helping out students who cannot get the funds for travelling from for instance UAF, COA or their municipality.
Please don’t do this without approval from the Incluusion student!
We want the students to feel supported, safe and like they belong at the UU as much as the regular students. We don't want Incluusion students to feel that they are being singled out.
We believe this citation from Yves Nahimana, an old Incluusion student, says it all: "I'm finally a student again instead of a refugee".
The reason for Incluusion students to be in the Netherlands is obviously different from the reasons for regular international students: Incluusion students fled their country and came here unprepared and unknowing of the Dutch academic culture. International students specifically chose the UU to study at and were able to prepare beforehand. International students also have a 'back-up option': if things don't work out in the Netherlands, they can usually just move back to their home country. For refugees this is not an option, which means there is a lot of pressure to succeed in their new country.
Many of the Incluusion students do not have a refugee status yet: they are asylum seekers waiting for or busy with their asylum procedure. If they are still asylum seekers they are usually living in an asylum seeker center, which means they don’t have a quiet study environment. Quite often, they share a room with 7-8 people from different nationalities. If they receive their status, they may still be living in an asylum seeker center or they might be placed in social housing. Unexpectedly and quite often immediately having to move throughout the course, or suddenly having to work on their asylum procedure, can cause students to be stressed and have less time available to study.
What is also good to realize, is that Incluusion students are often a bit older than regular students (30+) and as you can imagine, have quite a different life experience from regular students. Some have a family in the Netherlands that they also need to take care of or they still have family members living in their home country.
A refugee student from the Hogeschool Utrecht made a video called 'De brief' showing how he experienced studying in the Netherlands. Of course, everyone has their own individual experience, but this video does show us the struggles you might face as a refugee student. You can wath the video on his own website: www.karoon.nl.
Many Incluusion students have gladly completed UU-courses over the years. However, it is good to keep in mind that many of the students are in an unstable living situation. For instance, their housing can be unsure, or there might be sudden developments in their asylum procedure that require their full attention. Therefore, unfortunately, there is always the risk of a student dropping out throughout the course, even if they are enthusiastic and willing to finish. Luckily, a lot of students do successfully finish their course!
We have heard many different stories from teachers throughout the years: from students participating quite actively and joining lively discussions, to introverted students who don’t say that much.
Apart from character differences, limited engagement in the class might also be due to cultural barriers. In some cultures, students are supposed to regard their teacher as an authority who provides them with all the necessary information. Students should sit and listen, thereby showing respect for their teacher. They might therefore not be used to asking critical questions, discussing with their teacher and fellow students, or letting you know when they don’t understand something.
During the course students usually get used to the Dutch educational system and will gain more courage to participate and communicate actively. Some nudging from the teacher or a heads up to the Incluusion team might also be helpful if you experience this!
If you ever feel at a loss and don't know how to handle a situation, please contact email@example.com to ask for advice. Generally speaking, we can imagine that there are a couple of things that you cannot help your student with:
"The writing skills of my student are not good enough"
For a lot of (international) students, having to write essays/papers/etc is a new experience that takes some getting used to. We always refer students to the writing tutoring offered by the Skills Lab. This tutoring is for free and can usually be planned quite fast.
"My student is asking for advice on their asylum procedure / housing / personal issues"
The asylum procedure and all the uncertainties that come with it are quite impactful for our students. However, this does not mean that you have to be someone's lawyer or psychologist: you are only their teacher.
If you ever feel out of your depth, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For us, it is usually easier to get in touch with the students on difficult topics since we have more knowledge on what we can and cannot help our students with. Also, we can sometimes refer students to other services that might be able to help them.
"My student wants to find a job"
Finding a job is usually hard for refugees, since they don't speak Dutch yet and don't have a professional network in the Netherlands. For asylum seekers, additional rules apply that can make finding a job even harder. As a university, we can only offer the services of our colleagues from Career Services. Incluusion students have been quite enthusiastic about, for instance, the free Linkedin workshop and cv check.