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Unibo for Refugees. The University of Bologna supports the right to study

In December 2015, the Academic Senate of the University of Bologna, accepting the invitation of the European Commission to develop forms of integration for students forced to interrupt their training because they were persecuted or fleeing war zones, approved a measure that allows students requesting international protection to enroll in our Alma Mater Studiorum - University of Bologna, taking advantage of a total contribution exemption.

Starting from the 2015/2016 academic year, therefore, not only students with a residence permit for "Political Asylum" or "Humanitarian Asylum", but also those in possession of a permit for "Waiting for Political Asylum" or similar purposes, have the opportunity to attend the University of Bologna. For students who have obtained international or humanitarian protection and who enroll at the University of Bologna, five scholarships worth 8,000 Euros have also been established.

The eleven schools of the University are constantly working to facilitate the access of students seeking asylum to the training activities of the University, while the International Desk of the International Relations Area organizes orientation activities. Students seeking asylum can also enroll for free in the Italian language courses of the University Language Center and, thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed by the University of Bologna, ACLI and ASP Città di Bologna, they can take part in extra-curricular internships carried out under the program "Youth Guarantee".

The first two internships - lasting 6 months for 30 hours per week have already been activated and take place at the Buiatria Service and small ruminants of the Alma Mater Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences. This is an apprenticeship activity designed to ensure the principles of hygiene and management of milking, milk storage and biosecurity on farms, allowing the development of skills that are useful for a subsequent entry into the world of work.

After the start of the first internships, in November 2016 the Educational and support farm for asylum seekers is opened in Ozzano. The project originated from a structured collaboration between the Acli Vet for Africa Club, the Acli di Bologna, the Asp Città di Bologna, the Alma Mater Department of Veterinary Medical Sciences, Oficina I.S. and the municipalities of Bologna (with the Institution for social inclusion "Don Paolo Serra Zanetti") and of Ozzano nell'Emilia. The experience proved to be very positive and confirmed the desire to continue the training of interns on the farm, deepening the issues related to breeding, milking and processing of milk. The idea is to widen this positive path of socio-employment insertion by launching a relay mechanism able to accommodate other young applicants for international protection who, in turn, can be supported by more experienced colleagues.

Thanks to the commitment, to different extent, of the partners, the training will continue until the project becomes self-sustainable: the main objective of the entrepreneurial plan at the base of the Farm. The launch of this experience also made it possible to raise awareness among the students of the Ozzano Veterinary Campus on issues of immigration, social inclusion and opportunities for developing solidarity businesses. An important element in view of the creation of a solidarity educational center for the training in the field of students of the School of Agriculture and Veterinary in response to the needs of the territory. The solidarity Farm, in fact, makes it possible for people with disabilities, elderly people and the local community as a whole to be able to participate actively, each according to his abilities and resources.

The project has its strong point in the partnership network: each of the involved protagonists believed and invested differently in the idea. The hope now is to be able to export this model to other realities, proposing it as a virtuous model of integration, but also of job creation and of induced for the whole territory.

To date, there are 39 asylum seekers who have been able to enroll in University of Bologna courses, both in Italian and in English, and who are taking Italian courses at the University Language Center. Instead, there are 2 young people who are following professional training.