Manifesto on an Inclusive University (Manifesto dell’Università Inclusiva)

Promotes refugees’ access to higher education and research, and advocates for their social integration and active participation in academic life.
Good Practices

Manifesto on an Inclusive University (Manifesto dell’Università Inclusiva)

Promotes refugees’ access to higher education and research, and advocates for their social integration and active participation in academic life.
A woman is looking at books on a shelf in a library

Bernice Kula-Kula, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and a masters student at the University of Cagliari, consults a book in the university library.

The project in brief

The project is implemented by UNHCR Rome MCO, in Italy. It began in October 2019 and is currently ongoing. 

Based on a commonality of purpose and principles, the Manifesto programme aims at encouraging the adhering institutions to take action in support for students with international/temporary protection, recognition of their qualifications, ad hoc scholarships and other incentives, humanitarian corridors for refugee students and scholars (UNICORE project, see: The support by the programme includes strengthening the Manifesto network, also expanding it to significant stakeholders, facilitating working groups and sharing of practice, organising webinars, developing tools and strategies to improve refugee students’ engagement.

The main goal of the project is to facilitate refugees’ access to tertiary education. Moreover, this initiative is part of activities aimed at contributing to the UNHCR “15by30” target, i.e., to increase the enrolment rate of refugee students at tertiary education institutions from the current 6% to 15% by 2030.

Main activities of the Good Practice

  1. Expanding the network of universities and tertiary education institutes which have adhered to the Manifesto; 
  2. Networking with other organisations (for example with CIMEA  Academic Equivalence Mobility Information Centre, CRUI Conference of Italian University Rectors, ANDISU National Association of Bodies for the Right to University Study, Student Refugee Network, RUIAP Italian University Network for permanent education);
  3. Establishing and fostering permanent dialogue with those involved; information sharing through a dedicated mailing list (events, reports, news, projects);
  4. Fostering opportunities for continuous exchange and sharing of critical issues and good practices, particularly through the construction of topical working groups composed of representatives of universities, refugee communities, and DSU (Right to University Education) entities, which address the key issues of the Manifesto;
  5. Designing and implementing a survey dedicated to refugee students. Designed by UNHCR together with a working group of professors and researchers from some of the network universities;
  6. Providing specific training opportunities (3 per year) for university staff, e.g. on international protection issues, reception system, and inter-cultural communication with refugee students.
  7. Organization of public events and annual reports.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

  • Legislative Decree 251/2007 provides the right for holder of international protection to access the general education system within the limits and rules envisaged for third country nationals legally residing in Italy; moreover, they are entitled to the validation and accreditation of titles and qualifications obtained abroad, even in the absence of the original certification;
  • the National Integration Plan, approved by the Ministry of the Interior in 2017, identifies access to education and qualifications’ recognition as programmatic priorities;
  • The Italian Ministry of Interior offers every year scholarships to refugee students who obtained international protection in Italy, in accordance with the Conference of Italian University Rectors (CRUI), in cooperation with ANDISU (The Italian Association of Right to Study Organizations);
  • Some universities allow asylum seekers to enroll in single courses pending the assessment of their status;
  • Regular and constant interaction with the involved Universities, with the aim of promoting participation at all levels and fostering sense of ownership of the action;
  • Establishment of thematic working groups;
  • Webinars for university staff on international and temporary protection, reception in Italy, and inter-cultural communication with refugees.

Partners involved

The list of the 59 adhering universities and institutions available at:

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


  • Lack of reliable and up to date data on persons within UNHCR’s mandate accessing tertiary education in Italy, including overall number, geographical and academic distribution, challenges faced, access to information etc. 
  • Limited human resources dedicated to the Manifesto and other programmes dedicated to refugees in the adhering institutions
  • Limited capacity to reach out to refugee students (linked to 1. and 2.)
  • Difficulties in receiving prompt and right-to-the-point reply from relevant stakeholders, which cause delays in reaching the goals
  • Enlargement of the Manifesto network to private institutions such as telematic universities required a new challenge related to due diligence process to be conducted

How they were overcome

  • A survey has been prepared by UNHCR MCO Italy in collaboration with a working group composed of university staff to collect data directly from students who were forced to flee their countries. Through the Manifesto members, the survey has been circulated among students enrolled and filled in anonymously. The results of the survey will provide a picture of the specific situation of students in Italy and ideally inform ad hoc responses from the Universities themselves.
  • Adoption of procedures of due diligence to limit the reputational risk 
  • FGD with refugee students, aiming at better understanding their challenges, also in view of helping them in making their voice heard and their needs better met by universities

Results of the Good Practice

  • Opportunities of scholarships for beneficiaries of international and temporary protection and asylum seekers have been promoted through channels of UNHCR projects, thus providing refugees with greater awareness of chances to access tertiary education;
  • Opportunities promoted or known by UNHCR addressed to refugees are also shared with refugee students through the Manifesto's network
  • Through working groups and webinars, universities have increased their interested and knowledge with regard to the condition of refugee students and possible good practices, thus becoming more aware of solutions to be possibly implemented;
  • FGD and survey outcome, which will be shared with the Manifesto network, are expected to better inform universities’ way forward within the context of Manifesto’s goals

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Refugee self-reliance can be achieved by facilitating access of refugees to primary, secondary and tertiary education. Indeed, access to tertiary education constitutes a key factor in refugees’ personal and professional fulfillment, as well as for their social inclusion. Moreover, higher education titles increase refugees’ chances to access labour market in a more equal and dignified manner, which positively affects autonomy and self-determination. The Manifesto on an Inclusive University and UNHCR’s work with higher education institutions, by promoting actions to facilitate refugee’s access to tertiary education,can therefore play a crucial role in creating opportunities for resilience and self-reliance of refugees.
The Manifesto, by encouraging the joint action of institutional and non-institutional actors, also contributes to the social inclusion of refugees according to the “whole of society” approach promoted by the Global Compact on Refugees.

Next steps

The project will continue in the next years.

Manifesto is expected to extend to Higher Education Technological Institutes (ITS) and Institutes for Higher Education in Art and Music (AFAM) as well as organizations linked to providing access to education or scholarships.

Contact the project

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