2015 Beginnings

In the summer of 2015, thousands of people escaping war and insecurity tried to make their way through Hungary. Large numbers became stuck for some weeks in train stations in Budapest. Along with members of the Budapest civil society, CEU staff, students and faculty worked to provide humanitarian and other assistance. By the end of the summer, as the 'crisis' dissipated, attention turned to those who remained. 

The Open Learning Initiative-Weekend Program was organised to provide refugees and asylum seekers access to education, job market training and English language skills.  Organised jointly with Migszol (Migrant Solidarity Group of Hungary), OLIve-WP started its programs in January 2016 enrolling up to 45 students per term.  

2016-2019 Refugee Education Initiative 1

OLIve applied for Erasmus+ funding and the resulting successful application led to the launch of the Refugee Education Initiatives (REIs) which ran between 2016 and 2018 at Central European University (Hungary), University of East London (UK) and University of Vienna (Austria). As well as continuing the work of the weekend program, it also used the Erasmus funding to launch OLIve UP – the university preparatory program in Budapest and London.

The Open Learning Initiative - University Preparatory Program grew from OLIve-WP. Building on expertise at CEU in providing access to education for another marginalised community, the Roma in Europe, OLIve-UP aims to prepare students for university through an intensive 10-month program focusing on developing academic knowledge, academic skills and academic English.  OLIve-UP strives to validate the prior learning of refugees in Europe through a systematic appraisal process and build on this knowledge to help students enter into university and further their inclusion into European society.  OLIve-UP works to recognise the learning of students who may not have copies of their degrees or who have not completed previous university study. 

In Hungary, anti-migration legislation in 2018 resulted in CEU leadership choosing to close its refugee education program and a refugee-related research projects.

2019-2021 Refugee Education Initiative 2

Refugee Education Initiatives 2 was a continuation of the first program but scaled up. It included the members of the REIS1 one consortium -CEU, UEL, and the University of Vienna- in addition to the addition of the Aristotle University Thessaloniki. Later, due to anti-migrant education policies of the Hungarian Government, Bard College Berlin and NYOK Budapest joined the consortium to run CEU’s UP and Weekend programs respectively.

September 2021 onwards

From January 2022 onwards OLIve University Preparatory Program will start from our Vienna campus.

For information on the Weekend Program in Budapest click here