Academic Refuge

The EU-funded ‘Academic Refuge’ project aimed to improve the capacity of European universities to assist refugees and threatened academics on campus and to promote understanding and respect for higher education values.

The full title of the project: An Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership to Promote Core Academic Values and Welcome Refugees and Threatened Academics to European Campuses

Project Acronym: Academic Refuge

Project period: September 2016-August 2019 (3 years)

The two overlapping project objectives:

  1. Improve the capacity of European universities to assist refugees and threatened academics
  2. Promote greater respect for academic freedom and greater protection for higher education values

Alongside increasing the European universities’ capacity to support those who were forced to flee, there is an opportunity for European universities to work together with refugees and threatened academics to look to the longer-term. This combines efforts such as the Academic Dugnad with the long term work of Scholars at Risk.

This project will raise greater awareness of the importance of academic freedom to a healthy higher education sector, the consequences for society at large when such freedom is repressed, and the steps we can take as a sector to protect higher education values.

Academic Refuge work packages:

1. Development and implementation of a Staff training on Welcoming Refugees and Threatened Academics to European Campuses
The Pilot Staff training took place in Oslo 19-23 June 2017 (Report, PDF)

2. Development and implementation of a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on academic freedom and higher education values (launch 4 June 2018, next course starts 28 Oct 2019)
Course page on Futurelearn where you can register for the MOOC

3. Development of an electronic handbook on putting higher education values into practice (June 2019) Promoting Core Higher Education Values; Perspectives for the Field

MOOC: Dangerous questions - Why Academic Freedom Matters

What is the course about?

Scholars and students around the world ask questions; questions about the environment; questions about health; questions about poverty and development; questions about justice; questions about truth. And the answers to these questions affect all of society. 

But sometimes asking questions can be dangerous. Academic freedom protects the right to ask sensitive, even dangerous questions. Not just scholars' questions, but the freedom for you to think and ask questions that really matter. 

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for students and staff in higher education, and is also relevant for anyone interested in asking critical questions. In its first run in June the course brought together participants from 98 countries. Join our global conversation about academic freedom!

The next courses start 24 August 2020 and 1 march 2021. You will have access to the course for 12 weeks after the start date.


Promoting Core Higher Education Values - perspectives from the field

The Academic Refuge Project compiled inspiring practices describing how academic values are emphasized, protected and put into practice at higher education institutions around the world as part of an electronic handbook on promoting core higher education values.

The handbook can be downloaded in an interactive PDF

Media coverage

Final Event 13-14 June 2019

ACA and UNICA organised a joint stakeholder event at the European Committee of the Regions in Brussels on behalf of their project teams – GREET and Academic Refuge. The event, titled Higher Education Values in Practice - Integration of highly skilled refugees and at-risk academics in Europe, focused on academic values and the role of Europe’s higher education community in supporting students and scholars with refugee background and academics at risk.

The event included the launch of the e-handbook: "Values in Higher Education; Perspectives from the Field" and news about new initiatives after the end of the two projects.

Passed event 2018

Dangerous Questions: Why Academic Freedom Matters

Event description: This event will was a launch of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC): Dangerous Questions - Why Academic Freedom Matters available from 4 June 2018.

Time and venue: 13 June 2018, University of Ljubljana, Slovenia


Target audience: Higher education staff and students, representatives of government and non-governmental organisations from Southern and Eastern Europe. General Public.

Further information

Passed events June 2017

Academic Refuge: The Role of Universities in Turbulent Times, UiO, Norway

19-23 June 2017: Staff training week, UiO, Norway

Two modules:

  • Understanding Academic Freedom and Related Higher Education Values
  • Welcoming Refugees and Threatened Academics on Campus


Partners: UNICA, University of Ljubljana, Scholars at Risk Network

Associated partners

Media Partners


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