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LERU supports “Science4Refugees”

Tuesday 6 October 2015  
Posted by: gina gunaratnam
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6 October 2015 - Today, the European Commission (EC) has launched the "Science4Refugees" initiative to help refugee scientists and researchers find suitable jobs that both improve their own situation and put their skills and experience to good use in Europe's research system. The League of European Research Universities (LERU) congratulates Commissioner Carlos Moedas with this important initiative.

Science4Refugees matches talented refugees and asylum seekers who have a scientific background with positions in universities and research institutions that are 'refugee-welcoming organisations' and that have suitable positions available, including internships and part-time and full-time jobs. Science4Refugees is accessible to refugees and institutions through the EURAXESS - Researchers in Motion portal – a pan-European initiative providing access to a complete range of information and support services to researchers wishing to find jobs and pursue their research careers in Europe. Recruitment through EURAXESS and Science4Refugees is open, transparent and merit-based, and candidates will compete for employment on the same basis as non-refugee applicants. It is also compulsory to follow national employment law, including rules on residence, visas and work permits, when applying for a job. Participating in Science4Refugees does not mean that these national conditions have been met and that there is entitlement to work in the EU.

LERU fully supports the Science4Refugees initiative. Prof Kurt Deketelaere, Secretary-General LERU, states: "Science4Refugees complements very well many other initiatives LERU members launched over the past few weeks, offering solidarity and help to refugees and asylum seekers: additional space was created for them in university residence halls, they were welcomed at faculties and research institutes, and libraries were opened up for them. Furthermore, many LERU members have offered expert advice to governments, organisations and media on refugee/asylum policy and law, have made available their expertise on the recognition of foreign degrees, and have organised activities and events aiming at their integration in local societies." 

But universities should not only offer solidarity and material help: they should also ask the right critical and difficult questions related to this refugee crisis, and offer answers. As Rector Rik Torfs (KU Leuven) indicated in his recent convocation address, devoted to the refugee crisis: "The university has a heart. We show solidarity. We use our brains, by examining the new migrants’ potential impact on our country – in moral, economic, mental, anthropological, legal, medical, religious terms. We are also critical. We expose false dilemmas. We do not fall for a cheap irenic discourse, in which dilemmas are non-existent, and everything is called a win-win situation." 

This way, LERU wants to be a beacon light for our society and bring a positive message. Prof Alain Beretz, chair of LERU: "We want to help solve crises, such as the refugee problem, or at least, if we do not succeed right away, keep them manageable. There are limits to people’s solidarity but we can help them push back their boundaries. By making the right analyses. By not shunning the tough questions. By cherishing reason when emotions are taking the upper hand."

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