Utrecht University awards Silver Medal to initiators of Incluusion

Video of the award ceremony of the Silver Medal during the Dies Natalis 2019.

On Tuesday 26 March 2019, Utrecht University celebrated its 383rd Dies Natalis (Anniversary Day). During the ceremony, President of the Executive Board Anton Pijpers awarded the Silver Medal to the initiators of Incluusion. This medal is a decoration to people who have made exceptional achievements for Utrecht University.

Education for refugees

The Incluusion programme gives refugee students the opportunity to enrol in university education. This lets them continue their academic careers. Over 280 refugee students, either with or without asylum statuses, have used the programme by now.

Marij Swinkels and Hilke Grootelaar took the initiative for Incluusion in 2016. The two PhD candidates of the Faculty of Law, Economics and Governance organised, together with Elena Valbusa, academic education for refugee students. Their underlying thought: if you offer refugees the opportunity to enrol in education as soon as possible after their arrival in the Netherlands, they quickly become capable of building a new future.

Incluusion student Salma Fayad from Syria shares her experiences with the Incluusion programme.


Incluusion started small, but quickly expanded to English-language Bachelor's courses. On top of that, the initiative has been adopted by other universities, such as Wageningen and Eindhoven.

Silver medal 

Marij Swinkels, Hilke Grootelaar and Elena Valbusa received the Silver Medal from Utrecht University because they interpreted the Dies theme ‘Education for life’ in an inspiring and enterprising way. The Executive Board is proud of Incluusion: of the initiators, the lecturers and the students. Incluusion expresses the mission of Utrecht University: to work towards a better world.

Read the speech by Anton Pijpers (pdf)
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