From Camp to Campus

From Camp to Campus

From Camp to Campus: Social Investment in Refugees and Newcomers through Higher Education

2023 – 2027 | FWO SBO

Partner institutions

KU Leuven
UC Leuven-Limburg
Hogeschool PXL

Research objectives

Within the EU, Belgium has one of the largest native-immigrant gaps in education as well as in the labour market, with low participation of immigrants in higher education, high unemployment and inactivity rates and a severe ‘brain waste’ among the employed immigrants. Refugees in particular are in a vulnerable position due to forced migration and interrupted careers. In Belgium, traditional integration strategies have not been adapted for qualified refugees and newcomers (R&N). The need for better integration policies has become even more pressing with the crisis in Ukraine that has resulted in a large inflow of skilled and qualified refugees into Flanders. There are strong (demographic, economic, and budgetary) arguments for a far-reaching policy shift vis- à-vis medium and high educated immigrants in general and R&N in particular: a shift towards a genuine social investment approach.

Higher education represents a typical example of such a social investment. The main objective of ‘From Camp to Campus’ is to provide the scientific evidence base for a ‘social investment approach’ which can boost the efficiency and effectiveness of R&N integration strategies through higher education. Alongside the scientific objective, ‘From Camp to Campus’ has a societal objective: to foster a win-win strategy, with welfare gains for R&N themselves, and for the Flemish economy and society at large. This welfare gain should be obtained through a shift from a traditional social assistance and activation approach to a social investment strategy.

The project is divided into 6 work packages:

  • WP1 provides theoretical underpinnings of the social investment strategy on investing in higher education for R&N
  • WP2 presents a ‘socio-economic case’ for this investment by estimating the returns on investment in full education programmes as well as shortened trajectories
  • WP3 maps and analyses the aspirations, careers, obstacles, needs and experiences of R&N in Flemish HE
  • WP4 assesses the accessibility and quality of supporting services for R&N in higher education
  • WP5 provides implications for policy and practice by translating the findings of the previous WPs into specific recommendations
  • Tasks of WP6 include the general coordination of the project. This project will use mixed methods, with direct participation of R&N in the research process