Cooperation Agreements

2020-10-01 00:04:01

MRU Signed Agreement with Ministry to Provide Free Tuition to Refugees

mru-sutartis--su-socialines-apsaugos-ir-darbo--ministerija-6923 October 1st, 2020, Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Rector Prof. Dr. Inga Žalėnienė signed an agreement with Lithuania's Social Security and Labour Minister Linas Kukuraitis to allow selected refugees to study for free.

Foreigners who have been granted asylum in Lithuania receive free Lithuanian language lessons, learn about the Constitution, culture, but free higher education has been off limits except to the very few. Some of the reasons include the language barrier and lost documents during transition to other countries.

The first steps have been taken to remedy the situation.

"Complete integration of a person is reached, when the person begins working and has all the possibilities to care for his family and pursue his dreams. Acquiring higher education is a basic step in the process of integration and independence," said Minister Kukuraitis. He noted that free higher education will give a strong start position to some of the refugees currently living in Lithuania.

Double the Benefit

According to the agreement, MRU will provide the opportunity for some of the individuals granted refugee status in Lithuania to study waiving tuition fees. When compiling a list of research themes, the needs of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour will be taken into account.

Rector Žalėnienė said there are already students at the University who  have been granted refugee status, who have had their tuition fees waived.

Last year, the contribution of Mykolas Romeris University was presented at the World Refugee Forum in Geneva. MRU also contributes to the integration of asylum seekers in other ways: together with six foreign universities it has developed a virtual learning module on refugee and migration law, participates in the "Refugees Welcome Map" project initiated by the European University Association.

"The whole world is facing the challenge of refugee integration. People are forced to leave their native homes for various reasons - political, economic, climate-related. The acquired education increases their chances of successful integration and living a full independent life in their host countries, as well as when circumstances change to return to their home country and contribute to its well-being, ”said MRU Prof. Dr. Žalėnienė.

Free Studies and Information Exchanges

According to the agreement, MRU pledges to provide opportunities for some of the individuals granted asylum in Lithuania to study for free in English or Lithuanian language programmes. It is planned to admit a maximum of 7 people during the 2020–2021 academic year, but they must meet the requirements of the university, and be motivated to study.

Both the University and the Ministry, are obligated to announce when organizing scientific conferences, seminars or discussions on the integration of foreigners, to inform about the issue and to provide an opportunity for the partners of the agreement to participate, as well as to share other relevant information.

MRU will inform about related University Laboratory activities, exchange academic insights. The Ministry, on the other hand, will create the conditions for students to become better acquainted with Ministry's - and other institution's activities in this area. Students will be able to undertake internships here. When compiling theme lists of Bachelor's and Master's Degree final papers and dissertation, the needs of the Ministry of Social Security and Labour will be taken into account.

If necessary, MRU would also develop specialized training programs to raise the qualifications of staff working with asylum seekers in Lithuania. In 2019, there were 453 foreigners participating in the integration programme for asylum seekers. Most of the refugees are from Syria. This year the situation is slowly changing and more asylum applications are coming from neighboring Belarus.

In 2019, the United Nations World Refugee Forum was held to agree on how to better respond to refugee problems around the world, to provide more support to refugee host countries, and provide better opportunities for refugees to take care of themselves.

At the Forum, Mykolas Romeris University committed itself to participating in refugee education and the Ministry of Social Security and Labour has committed to strengthening cooperation between institutions working on the integration of foreigners.

Photos: Vidūnas Gelumbauskas