On the following page there is a brief overview of existing initiatives of the University of Vienna, its staff and students in the field of help for refugees (most links are in German).
The University of Vienna is offering free academic courses for individuals with refugee or asylum seeking status in Austria or another country of the European Economic Area (EEA) who have an interest in pursuing University study. The courses run between 2017-2018 and are supported by the European Union’s ERASMUS+ programme. The goal of the courses is to prepare the students for entering European higher education institutions. The courses are offered in two forms: OLIve and OLIve-Up. OLIve is a 12-week programme, held once a week. OLIve-UP (University Preparatory Programme) is a full-time, 6-month course for persons aiming to attend any BA and MA University Programm in Europe.
UniClubplus is a programme for young refugees aged over 15 for whom it is frequently difficult to reconnect to the experiences and interests they had before they were forced to leave their country of origin. Among the young people who came to Austria as refugees and have been here for a while now, there are many who can speak German well but have a need to improve their specialist vocabulary or to practise speaking with native German speakers. The UniClubplus has reacted to the needs of both groups with specific offers. Away from German courses or school, a place for encounters is being created in the rooms of the Children’s Office of the University of Vienna. Young people who are interested in education and have great potential as future university students are supported in their school work here. This learning support is provided by members of the University of Vienna – by lecturers and in particular by future teachers. The project is being realised in cooperation with the Centre for Teacher Education. It is financed by donations, so the Children’s Office would appreciate your support.
Children’s University on Tour, a project initiated by the Children’s Office of the University of Vienna, has been touring public places in Vienna every summer since 2007 – equipped with a mobile lecture hall and plenty of science boxes. This winter semester, the Children’s University on Tour is visiting refugee children. A particular goal of the Children’s University on Tour is to get in contact with children who have had little contact with education until now; we invite ALL inquisitive children to do research, to carry out experiments and to ask questions.
The association "Vienna Law Clinics - Legal Counselling by Students in Vienna" provides free legal initial counseling in the fields of asylum law and start-ups. The Law Clinic is intended to support people who otherwise might not be able to afford legal advice. In the summer semester 2017, the Law Clinic will be anchored in the Juridicum and expanded by a third area of consulting: consumer law. Students complete a subject-relevant course on each area of consulting and can then provide legal advice on behalf of the association under the guidance and supervision of lawyers and legal professionals. In the area of asylum law, students support various organisations and NGOs, such as the Netzwerk Asylanwalt (asylum lawyers network) or the refugee project Ute Bock. They visit refugee centers and explain the Austrian asylum procedure as well as the associated rights and obligations to the refugees and are available for general questions.
In the winter semester of 2016/17, University Sport Institute (USI) of the University of Vienna will again offer two football training sessions for refugees every Saturday afternoon (except during holidays and at times when championships take place). The football training will be held by an experienced USI trainer who will play football together with asylum seekers from the Erdberg Federal Support Office on the Rennweg pitches.
Since 2013 survivors of war and torture have been doing sport and exercise at the Institute of Sport Science. The project "Movi Kune – moving together" addresses refugees looking for therapy support to cope with traumatic events. We collaborate with HEMAYAT, the support centre for survivors of war and torture.
CoMoTo is an initiative of the Department of Sport Science where a number of students and employees have teamed up to do sport together with refugees. The project was launched in winter 2015 and started with a workshop on trauma-sensitive sport. In March 2016, the sport and exercise programmes started with three different groups: Women-only classes are taking place on the premises of the Department of Sport Science in Auf der Schmelz street once a week. They are focused on participants of a Caritas House and offer primarily dance-related contents. The classes of the two other groups were attended by residents of the Workers' Samaritan Federation pavilions in the Otto Wagner Hospital: There was one group for women only and one group for men only. In the men-only group participants could choose between running, ball games and strengthening exercises twice a week. The women-only group focused on yoga, Pilates and relaxation exercises. It is planned to carry on the proposal for the different groups in the summer semester 2017.
SOLIdee is an initiative which has been set up by committed people who are involved with the Department of Education, either directly as lecturers or students or indirectly as family or friends. Those who are participating want, in their own words, “to take on responsibility in Austria and in Europe and to make a contribution towards the creation of a welcoming culture which treats every person as that what they are – human beings with all the rights to which they are entitled.” Its goal is to organise and coordinate urgently needed aid and assistance, donations in kind and voluntary services without being hindered by red tape.
Teachers and students at the Department of Geography and Regional Research have started the ACCESS Initiative – Access to Education and Social Participation for Refugees. Currently, the initiative offers excursions and lectures on the history of the city of Vienna and its environmental surroundings as well as special tours providing information about budget-friendly cultural offers in Vienna.
CEURABICS is the Center for European-Arab and Islamic-Christian Studies and Exchange Projects. It serves as a platform for the exchange between students of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) and Europe. The Center is run by a registered non-profit association in Austria in cooperation with students and professors of the University of Vienna.
Its intention is to foster the interreligious and intercultural communication between young people from Austria and from the MENA region. The goal is to promote the integration of Muslim students into Austria by providing support measures.
The Vienna International Christian-Islamic Summer University (VICISU) is a three week summer programme that aims at bringing together students and professors from universities in all of the five continents. It evolved from the "Vienna International Christian-Islamic Round Table", an initiative by academics from different fields of specialisation, such as law, theology and social sciences, in order to discuss the most important questions concerning our today’s world, from a Christian and from a Muslim perspective. The programme is taking place every two years, next time in summer 2018.
In March 2016 the University of Vienna launched the Semester Question – a new project on science communication. In the course of this project, researchers of the University of Vienna provide their expertise on questions that are of particular relevance for society. In the summer semester of 2016 the project addressed the question "How does migration change Europe?": More than 40 academics and students of the University of Vienna contributed in the form of interviews and guest contributions. You can find the various contributions in the section semester question in uni:view. Selected articles are also available on derStandard.at. The final highlight concluding the first edition of the Semester Question was a high-profile discussion event at the Main Ceremonial Chamber at the end of June 2016.