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In the Spotlight

Active for a Multicultural University

Mardjan Seighali is director of the Foundation for Refugee Students UAF, an organisation that guides and supports highly educated refugees in working and studying. Masa Hadros (22) is part of the customised programme for refugee students. She studied medicine in Syria for two years before the war caused her to flee her homeland.

Masa Hadros: “Through the customised programme for refugee students, I am preparing myself for the entrance exams to study medicine here. The upcoming exams make for a busy programme. We follow the VWO curricula for subjects such as maths, chemistry and physics, but we are asked different types of questions during the entrance exams. That makes it complicated, as do the sometimes-difficult Dutch words. Fortunately, through the buddy programme, I’ve been paired up with a student who is showing me the ropes at the university. In addition, our counsellor Saskia Paulissen is always there for us if we have problems.”

“The fact that I have to attend most of my lessons from home because of the pandemic has actually been quite nice. It saves a lot of commuting time, and you can rewind the video lectures if you don’t understand something. At the same time, I haven’t been able to see much of my fellow students, although that is also because everyone is following their own path. I’m the only student in some courses. Although the programme is busy and sometimes stressful, I’m very happy with the opportunity to follow this customised programme. Radboud University and the UAF are giving me all the help I need to prepare for admission. I hope I’ll be able to study here for a while, also when we can get back to campus.”

Mardjan Seighali: “We have been working with Radboud University for some time, but this agreement will allow us to intensify that collaboration. We want to help talented students with a refugee background prepare for an education in the Netherlands. That’s why I’m very happy with the customised programme in Nijmegen, where students can take courses that tie in with the degree programme they are going to pursue. In addition, they receive good guidance. The students we want to help live all over the Netherlands, of course, so we’re glad to have found a collaboration partner like Radboud University in the east. That allows students to study in their own region.”

“The agreement also lays a foundation for more extensive collaboration with other parties. With the UAF, we seek to collaborate with municipalities and companies, in addition to educational institutions. This is easier with a partner like Radboud University. In addition to the customised programmes, we can also help refugees find internships or work experience placements in companies where the university already has connections. At the moment, there is a customised programme for students who want to study medicine, and collaboration with Radboud university medical center is a good option for this. We will be exploring these kinds of opportunities together in the near future.”