Understanding Society

Tilburg University is convinced that it can contribute to solving social issues by developing and transferring knowledge and bringing together people from various disciplines and organizations.

Involved with refugees

Many Tilburg University students and employees feel personally and/or professionally involved with the numerous people who have fled from war zones in the Middle East. These refugees have also found shelter in our region. This webpage provides information and a list of contacts concerning several activities for and with refugees that have been initiated by people of Tilburg University.

Understanding Society

The municipality of Tilburg provides shelter to many refugees, and many citizens and organizations are taking initiatives to make them feel at home and to help them find their way in Dutch society. Based on our motto of 'Understanding Society', Tilburg University welcomes and supports the active contributions of many students and employees to moving society forward and to proposing solutions for social issues. As the university is an internationally oriented community, it stimulates intercultural exchange and an active role of students in society since this positively contributes to their development as engaged global citizens.

Tilburg University Steering Committee

Many students and employees want to contribute. It is important to align their activities with those of the professional organizations that are responsible for the reception of refugees in Tilburg and the surrounding region. Tilburg University has set up a steering committee to identify the ideas and activities and keep track of the various activities undertaken from Tilburg University for and with refugees. This steering committee is in close contact with the municipality, COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers), volunteer organization Ruimhartig Tilburg, Stichting VluchtelingenWerk (Dutch Council for Refugees), the Midden-Brabant Library, and other partners in civil society. The Managing Director of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Hans-Georg van Liempd, is the steering committee’s coordinator and spokesman.

Report your activity or idea

Is your study or student association organizing a one-off activity? Do you, as a student or employee, want to set up a project for or in cooperation with refugees? Then please report to the steering group. We may be able to bring you into in contact with like-minded people and perhaps provide you with advice. E-mail: helprefugees@tilburguniversity.edu.

Becoming a volunteer for Ruimhartig Tilburg

The Knooppunt Ruimhartig Tilburg plays a key role in all activities organized in our city for and with newcomers. If you want to team up as an 'ordinary' volunteer in one of their projects, please go to the Ruimhartig Tilburg website Ruimhartig Tilburg (in Dutch).

Projects by Tilburg University

Refugee Training Days Labor Market Orientation and Entrepreneurship

In close cooperation with VluchtelingenWerk (Dutch Council for Refugees), teachers and partners of Tilburg University and TIAS School for Business and Society have developed a free, one-day training program for refugees. Many refugees are extremely motivated to work and are often proficient in English. The day’s theme is ‘Working in the Netherlands’. The pilot took place April 14 2016, aimed at refugees in the Central Brabant region. Tilburg University now offers this training day for new participants twice a year.

In various lectures, a realistic picture is presented of the Dutch labor market in general and of the economic situation in Brabant in particular. Furthermore, participants are taught how to present themselves for an interview. The day ends with a speed-date session with Brabant companies.

Contact: Geert-Jan Peters: G.J.P.M.Peters@tilburguniversity.edu

Read a report about the last training day in November 2016 HERE.

Pilot for Competence Card Refugees and Law Clinics

The labor market institute ReflecT and its former PhD student Ronald Lievens, have launched a pilot to make a 'competence card' for refugees, in close cooperation with the municipality of Tilburg and Meurs HRM. It describes all training, work experience, skills and talents that the potential new residents of the city have.

This competency overview is more detailed than a conventional CV and should provide potential employers more insight into what someone can do and knows. The hope is that the competence card will help refugees who obtain a residence status to get a chance on the labor market as quickly as possible. Professor Ton Wilthagen and Ronald Lievens are leading this research project. The Executive Board of Tilburg has agreed to this pilot and COA (Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers) will also cooperate in Tilburg.

Furthermore, ReflecT is doing a number of research projects focusing on refugees and their position on the labor market for VluchtelingenWerk (Dutch Council for Refugees). In law clinics, students are working on certain legal issues under the supervision of a teacher. One example is that students are investigating the legal conditions under which refugees can start a business.

Contact competency passport: wilthagen@tilburguniversity.edu

Contact law clinics: lawclinic@tilburguniversity.edu 

Watch a (Dutch) video interview with Ton Wilthagen about the Comptence Card HERE.

Buddy project YOUmanity

Ten students of different nationalities who are all participants in the Outreaching Honours Program at Tilburg University, have started the foundation YOUmanity. They have created a platform to match refugees and people from Tilburg University with the same interests, so they can help each other out and do fun and/or useful activities together.

They have set up a buddy system for refugees in the AZC Gilze, and are active in Tilburg as well. The buddies can do all sort of activities together, such as: cooking, watching a movie together or playing a game, going to a soccer match, have conversation in Dutch, or something more formal like giving CV advice and finding information about study opportunities. People are free to shape this experience the way they want. 

For more information, send an email to stichtingyoumanity@gmail.com or send a message via the facebookpage.  

Lecture series: Introducing The Netherlands

Academic Forum and the international student association I*ESN organize a series of English academic lectures on The Netherlands. Foreign students, expatriates and refugees are jointly invited to learn more about how the Dutch society is organized and about cultural and historical developments in our society. Since April 2016, there have been regular lectures, regarding topics such as: the Dutch education system, Dutch culture, democracy and the rule of law and water management. The next 'Introducing The Netherlands', on February 14, is about 'Love & Relationships. Be sure to save the dates 14 March and April 11 2017. 

For more information or if you might want to give a lecture yourself, mail: a.koster@tilburguniversity.edu.

Check: www.tilburguniversity.edu/academicforum for details about the lectures.

Dutch NT2 courses at Tilburg University Language Center

Educated refugees who wish to learn Dutch fast and effectively in order to continue their previous job or studies, can take courses at Tilburg University Language Center. Within a year, they will learn sufficient Dutch to successfully complete the NT2 State Examination, program II. In this way, they will meet the requirements of the Dutch integration law and will be admissible to Dutch higher education. The Tilburg University Language Center has been accredited with the ‘Blik op Werk’ accreditation mark. This means that immigrants can take intensive Dutch courses at the Language Center with the aid of a DUO-loan.

For more information, check the website of the Language Center.

Sports in the Tilburg University Sports Center

The Tilburg University Sports Center makes its facilities available for various activities for and with newcomers. Do you want to organize a sports activity? Please contact Max van Veen, Head of the Sports Center Office: m.vanveen@tilburguniversity.edu.

The Sports Center has hosted numerous succesful activities for refugees. For instance, youngsters from the Cobbenhagen reception center went there twice a week to work out. They could try out a variety of sports, including football, volleyball, basketball, spinning, and field hockey. At its outdoor accommodation, HC Tilburg offered weekly field hockey training for refugees. Also, there were soccer matches on the artificial turf football field three times a week. Furthermore, 11 March 2016 student association Serve the City organized a sports afternoon which enabled students, refugees and other Tilburg youth to have fun together.

Do you want to volunteer at one of the sporting events? Please contact the secretary of FOSST (Federation Of Student Sports Tilburg), Frank van Casteren: secretaris@fosst.nl.

Completed projects:

Students teach language classes for peers

Speaking the language is the key to successful integration. Early in 2016, the foundation Horizons: Global Youth for Justice and Equality set up a language project called ‘Horizons for Refugees’. 22 Students volunteered to teach about 80 young refugees basic Dutch. In pairs, they taught their peers weekly. Instructors from the Tilburg University Language Center offered these students an introductory workshop on Didactic Skills and Intercultural Communication.

Most newcomers in Tilburg are now participating in official language and integration programs. However, being a 'language buddy' is still a great way to help them settle here. Students who (still) want to volunteer in this way can contact: stichtingyoumanity@gmail.com or send a message via the facebookpage.  

These language classes were partly made possible by a private donation.

Students provide playtime for children

On Thursday afternoons, students from Tilburg University organized all kinds of games and creative activities for children. These playtime afternoons took place at Student Church Maranatha and the university's Sports Center. Fortunately, most refugee children no longer live at the shelters and have access to regular (school) facilities.

This activity was partly made possible by a private donation.

See more:

Volunteer initiatives on 'Tilburg University Helps' Facebook page

The closed Facebook group 'Tilburg University Helps' was set up to help Tilburg University students and staff to share and discuss their ideas, plans, and activities with respect to refugees. Students and staff can request membership of this group via this link. If you see a particular activity in which you want to participate, you can directly register as a volunteer. 

Media contributions by researchers on the influx of refugees into Europe

From their various expertise, Tilburg scholars regularly contribute to the debate on refugees. On this page Vluchtelingenstroom naar Europa, you can read their contributions (in Dutch).