The web portal Study in Greece is campaigning for the promotion and international visibility of Greek Universities and the comparative educational advantages of our country. In particular, the campaign focuses on the foreign language study programmes that Greek Universities offer to Greek and international students. The initiative is supported by the General Secretariat of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs and the General Secretariat for Greeks Abroad and Public Diplomacy of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In this context, a number of educational programmes and actions are presented in detail on a regular basis, such as undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, summer schools etc, to inform international students about the many foreign language options offered by Greek Universities.

Study in Greece interviewed Associate Professor Nektaria Palaiologou, Director of the MA in Language Education for Refugees and Migrants offered at the Hellenic Open University (HOU), about the programme, its features and what it has to offer to international students.

LRM2Nektaria Palaiologou is Associate Professor at the School of Humanities at Hellenic Open University, former Assoc. Professor at the School of Education at the University of Western Macedonia. She is also serving as Editor in Chief at the Intercultural Education Journal, Taylor and Francis, Routledge as well as an Editorial Board member on a frequent basis at seven international journals. She is the co-author of three books in Greek and edited three books in the English language. She has published extensively in international journals in the following areas: Intercultural Education, Immigrant and Refugee Education, Teacher Education and Multilingualism, Diversity and educational programs for culturally and linguistically diverse students.

Ms Palaiologou, please describe in a few words the content and the main objectives of this MA in Language Education for refugees and migrants (LRM) which is offered by the Hellenic Open University.

LRM started at the academic year 2015-2016. It is an innovative online international programme called “Language Education for Refugee and Migrant Students”, exclusively in English. It offers expertise and professional knowledge to those who would like to work as professionals in formal or non-formal settings.

Given that the program taught in English, please tell us why this Master’s is addressed to international students?

It is addressed to international students because it refers to scientific issues i.e. Migration, Refugee crisis and Diversity Education which are common issues at an international level, in the forefront of education agenda!! Social policies as well as education policies are in priority, the international dialogue is promoted!

LRM3Which could be the academic as well as the professional benefits for them?

LRM meets the needs of the modern labour market in two directions: a) at formal education settings i.e. those working at public schools, b) at non-formal settings (e.g. NGOs). In addition, all the participants have the chance to gradually improve their mindset and skillset in order to become successful professionals. By successfully completing their studies in LRM, students will have gained in-depth understanding of multiple aspects of language teaching and learning, that will help them become more effective in designing, delivering and coordinating language courses for vulnerable and linguistically othered populations. These skills make our graduates valuable for: a) formal education settings, such as schools and refugee reception facilities, and b) non-formal settings (e.g. NGOs) which focus on helping refugees integrate. While we take pride in the practical orientation of our programme, our graduates also develop a solid academic background which will enable them to pursue further studies, should they decide to do so.

LRM4The Hellenic Open University is very active in terms of extroversion and collaborations, so how do you consider that these strategies would benefit the Greek Universities in general?

HOU contributes to the growth of local community with events and exhibitions organised with international participation. I.e. International exhibitions/fora that bring new investors through new projects, synergies and collaborations at public and non-public sector. In other words, HOU acts as organiser or as a liaison for collaborations which support all Greek Universities, in different sectors, i.e. in Culture, in Sciences, in Health, in Education, Adult Education, in Information and Communication Technologies and Distance Learning!

How do you believe that both the University as well as the local community of Patras would benefit from attracting international students?

Greek history and culture play an important role in attracting international students. Greek history and culture set the frame of Paideia and Humanistic Education, dispersed to all cultures, interacting with different cultures and customs! We live in the era of diversities, multiculturalism and multilingualism! In addition, more and more people benefit from high-quality higher education as they have the chance to fill skills gaps and raise job prospects across the country. It also contributes to the development of positive attitudes towards learning, which is offered in a way that respects individuals’ pace and personality. Finally, it contributes to the development of a cosmopolitan society, where people are connected in multiple places in the world and they have the resources and the capacity to see things from different angles.

LRM5Please tell us a few things about the Hellenic Open University –its history, location, its facilities and its success plans for the future.

HOU is located in Patras city, the port is nearby! Patras is at a short distance from Athens! Patras is a wonderful city, surrounded by sites of interest! Peloponnese is a prefecture with various smells and customs!!! Greece is a wonderful country! You are all very welcome!!

Read also via Greek News Agenda: HELIOS project for the integration of refugees in Greece and the EU