Refugee and asylum seeker students at Politecnico di Torino
Whilst equating refugees to EU citizens, hence reducing the regulatory burden for their enrolment to University, Italian legislation nevertheless leaves Universities very little space for manoeuvre and discretion regarding the necessary documentation for the purpose: documentation that a citizen benefiting from international protection undoubtedly obtains with great difficulty.
However, once the status of "political refugee" in the broadest sense of the term has been attained, Universities can loosen up the timing constrictions for submission of the documentation, allowing students to conditionally begin their university education and helping them in their gradual integration in the city with dedicated cultural, mediation, and housing support.
Politecnico di Torino's "RE-HOME 4 STUDENTS" project operates on two areas of action: the first is dedicated to students waiting for acknowledgement of their refugee status or subsidiary protection (asylum seekers); the second is aimed at supporting students already holding valid permits (refugees) in their enrolment in University and in the administrative procedures to claim benefits from Right to Education interventions.
Asylum seekers are in a rather particular condition because, after completing secondary or, in some cases, university level studies, they have to regularize their status in the country with procedures that are often difficult to understand, almost always in Italian and with long waiting times (witnesses have reported lapses of at least 12 months between submission of the application for international protection, the Commission's decision to award it and the release of a residency permit).
It is therefore easy to understand how the delays in timing, accompanied by situations of psychological difficulty and inconvenient logistic arrangements can cause a progressive decline of the skills acquired in their own country and a reduction of the students' chances of recovering their University education in case of a favourable decision granting international protection.
Politecnico, thanks to this project, will implement the following actions in favour of asylum seeker students:
- Registration to Politecnico
Students, after setting up a personal appointment, may submit to the Internationalization Area counters the documentation in their possession and receive feedback on its completeness/regularity for enrolment. Simultaneously, they will receive credentials for access to a dedicated area on the Politecnico portal - Apply @ Polito, with which they will be registered in the University database, and will be able to start a reception and accompanying process towards enrolment;
- On-line Italian course
Through the personal Apply @ Polito page, students will follow an on-line Italian course prepared by the CLA - Centro Linguistico di Ateneo (University Language Centre);
- Admission test simulations
On the personal page of Apply @ Polito, students may try a few technical-scientific tests, to make a self-assessment of their knowledge and to prepare for the admissions tests that, as already mentioned, are mandatory and set up - for content and conduct - at a national level for the degree in Architecture, while they are compulsory but managed directly by Politecnico for all undergraduate degrees in Engineering, and for some others related to Architecture;
- Access to video-recorded lessons
At the time of registration, students will have to indicate a Degree Program of interest based on their own personal inclinations, on the possible curriculum built in the country of origin, on individual capabilities and inclinations, and on their language skills. Based on this information, students will be provided video-recorded lessons typical of the Degree Program in order to continue their learning;
- Welcome and cultural mediation services
Students in the project will benefit from a personalized service of cultural mediation and support in interactions with the specific bodies (State Police, Police Commission, ...) and they will also be introduced to the University's foreign student associations in order to meet with their peers to increase their contact opportunities and share common experiences;
- Access to dedicated sections of TIL (Test in Laib)
Participation in the project will allow asylum seeker students to take part in the TIL - Test in Laib sections that Politecnico organizes starting from Spring up to the last session prior to each academic year's course commencement. Once they get their residence permits, students can therefore enrol without any other additional administrative requirements and, if they have not already done so, they will only need to obtain the required documentation (secondary school titles, DV-Dichiarazione di Valore, etc…) from their country of origin.
After assessing the opportunity case by case, Politecnico may organize TIL sessions dedicated to specific cohorts of students seeking asylum.
Once they have been acknowledged international protection, refugee students can obtain a regular residence permit with different characteristics depending on the type of granted status (as described in paragraphs 1.3,1.4,1.5).
Refugee students can then:
- Proceed with regular enrolment
Refugee students can enrol in one of the University's degree programs following the deadlines set in the academic calendar. In particular, if they are interested in a BSc in Engineering, they may sit for the admission test on the first available session and, if successful, proceed with the enrolment, even under condition if the documents required by the regulations are still not available (secondary school titles, DV- dichiarazione di valore, etc ....); if interested in an MSc, they must make and appropriate online application submitting their prior curriculum for academic evaluation regardless of compliance of the submitted administrative documentation with the rules ;
- Benefit from the exemption of the enrolment fee payment
Refugee students will be granted immediate exemption from paying the enrolment fee and will only be required to pay the premium for accident insurance that Politecnico stipulates for all its students (3.53 Euro); the flat fee for royalties, payable by each student to SIAE (Società Italiana Autori ed Editori/Italian Society of Authors and Publishers), as required by Politecnico's accession to the CRUI-SIAE agreement for the duplication of texts protected by copyright (1.33 Euro); the enrolment stamp duty (16.00 €);
- Housing services
Refugee students involved in the project will benefit from a personalized support service to find accommodation in affiliated facilities or in other housing facilities affiliated with the "sportello Casa" (House desk) of the Ente Regionale per il Diritto allo Studio (Regional Authority for the Right to Education);
- Welcome and residence services
Refugee students will be provided a targeted service of cultural mediation and support in the management of the additional administrative requirements to maintaining their status and for more personal needs such as family reunification, obtaining citizenship, extension of refugee status to minor children, and enrolment in the National Health Service.