The importance of Inclusion

The aim: why this e-Booth?

Integration and inclusion are key for people, local communities, the long-term well-being of our societies, and the stability of our economies. If we want to help our societies and economies thrive, we need to support everyone who is part of society, with integration being both a right and a duty for all.

Therefore, in the European Council of December 2017, the role of high-quality education in creating more inclusive, as well as more economically successful and sustainable, societies was recognised.

Similarly, the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development recognises the importance of access to education, including higher education. It also acknowledges the importance of eliminating gender disparities in education, and ensuring equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, indigenous peoples, and children in vulnerable situations.

Furthermore, the 2017 European Consensus on Development also recognises the importance of ensuring access to good quality education for all, as a prerequisite for youth employability and long-lasting development.

In this regard, the Higher Education (HE) sector has an important role to play, and the Erasmus+ Programme is helping Higher Education Institutions contribute to building a more inclusive society, among other initiatives, also through the Capacity Building in Higher Education Action, which is part of the external dimension of the Programme.

Therefore, this e-booth has the purpose of informing the newly selected CBHE projects about the importance that Erasmus+ gives to inclusion by describing current initiatives and studies, and promoting some examples of CBHE projects.

Image: @ Gert Altman Pixabay

Main topic

Making higher education systems inclusive and connected to society requires providing the right conditions for students of different backgrounds to succeed, as well as building the competences and structures inside the HE sector that are necessary to obtain this result.

As part of an extensive EU strategy, the Erasmus+ Programme aims at promoting equity and inclusion by facilitating access to participants with disadvantaged backgrounds and fewer opportunities than their peers, whenever disadvantage limits or prevents participation in transnational activities for reasons such as:

  • Disability (i.e. participants with special needs): people with mental (intellectual, cognitive, learning), physical, sensory, and or other disabilities;
  • Educational difficulties: young people with learning difficulties, early school leavers, low qualified adults, young people with poor school performance;
  • Economic obstacles: people with a low standard of living, low income, dependent on social welfare system or homeless, young people dealing with unemployment or poverty, people in debt or with financial problems;
  • Cultural differences: immigrants, refugees, descendants from immigrant or refugee families, people belonging to a national or ethnic minority, people with difficulties related to linguistic adaptation and cultural inclusion;
  • Health problems: people with chronic health problems, severe illnesses, or psychiatric conditions;
  • Social obstacles: people facing discrimination because of gender, age, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, disability, etc., people with limited social skills or anti-social or risky behaviours, people in a precarious situation, (ex-)offenders, (ex-)drug or alcohol abusers, young and/or single parents, and orphans;
  • Geographical obstacles: people from remote or rural areas, people living in small islands or in peripheral regions, people from urban problematic zones, people from less serviced areas (limited public transport, poor facilities).

In this respect, a particular role has been given to the Erasmus+ Capacity Building for Higher Education Action, implemented within the framework of the external policies of the EU. This action aims at contributing to the development of sustainable and inclusive socio-economic growth in Partner Countries. It should also ensure development and the achievement of the EU external actions objectives and principles, including national ownership, social cohesion, equity, proper geographical balance, and diversity. It gives special attention to least developed countries, universities in more remote areas, as well as to disadvantaged students from poor socio-economic backgrounds and students with special needs.

Therefore, CBHE covers inclusion from different perspectives, and underlines its importance in most of the activities covered.

In fact, several of the national, regional and crosscutting CBHE priorities have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the building of an inclusive society. This objective can be reached through the development of curricula targeting the training of professionals with specific competences, the creation of University services for students of the different categories mentioned before, but also the recognition of qualifications, and the use of new technologies. These last aspects are, for example, extremely important for disadvantaged and underrepresented students, like migrants that might need a more widespread recognition of their prior learning, and for the involvement of students from remote and rural areas.

Furthermore, the projects targeting the “Equity, access and democratisation of Higher Education” priority, as well as the ones addressing the “Integration of refugees from conflict-affected countries in higher education”, which is a crosscutting priority valid for all regions, are definitively contributing to social inclusion in all the targeted Countries and Regions.

As a result, in this e-booth you will find:

  • Policy Documentation addressing inclusion;
  • Examples of selected CBHE projects addressing the priorities contributing to inclusion in our society.

Current Challenges

The main societal challenges may be identified as follow:

  • Young people dropping out of school (native and migrants)
  • Low level of education among adults
  • Unemployment
  • Poverty and social exclusion
  • Rates of overcrowding
  • Burden of housing costs
  • The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need to increase action to facilitate access to healthcare services; this is valid for both citizens and migrants.
  • In addition to the above, migrants face additional challenges, such as access to the job market, education (in particular girls), health insurance, services, financial resources depending on their residence status, as well as languages barriers, and the adaptation of national systems to the specific needs of migrants.

Best practices and success stories

Please find a number of best practice projects focusing on inclusion:

  • ‘Assisting Better Communication’ (ABC) proposed solutions to improve access to education for children and adults with communication disorders. It managed to enhance careers in Speech and Language Therapy in Israel, Georgia and Bosnia Herzegovina through quality courses and programs offered at different levels of professional education. ABC dissemination material:

ABC web site

ABC rationale:

ABC cooperation:

Centros de cooperación para el fomento, fortalecimiento y transferencia de buenas prácticas que Apoyan, Cultivan, Adaptan, Comunican, Innovan y Acogen a la Comunidad Universitaria’ (ACACIA)

  • Centros de cooperación para el fomento, fortalecimiento y transferencia de buenas prácticas que Apoyan, Cultivan, Adaptan, Comunican, Innovan y Acogen a la Comunidad Universitaria’ (ACACIA) has enabled the creation of five Educational Centres for Support and Development (CADEP) in Colombia, Peru, Nicaragua and Chile, in order to reduce the student drop-out rate, and  contribute to the eradication of all forms of exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation. This is one of the main challenges faced by Latin America. The structure of these centres represents an innovative and replicable tool for HEIs to provide students, especially the most vulnerable, with integrated support using a differential approach. Moreover, these Centres will support and monitor students at risk, carry out training sessions for staff at HEIs, explore new strategies for teaching, and improve the use of ICTs in educational practices.

ACACIA web site

ACACIA overview

ACACIA students’ testimonials:

Refugees Education Support in mena CoUntriEs’ (RESCUE)

  • ‘Refugees Education Support in mena CoUntriEs’ (RESCUE) created ad hoc units (the Refugee Student Operational Support Unit – R-SOS) in Universities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, whose mission is to structure specific services supporting refugee students (mainly Syrians) in resuming their academic training path.

Rescue web site

A wide collection of best practices in EU and MENA countries in the area of supporting refugees and disadvantaged students

 Lebanese University in Rescue: 

Capacity Building in Sustainability and Environmental Management (CapSEM):

  • ‘CAPacity Building in Sustainability and Environmental Management’ (CapSEM) is a cross-regional network for knowledge exchange and capacity building in sustainability and environmental management between partners in Europe, Asia and Africa. The CapSEM project has contributed to achieving global frameworks for sustainable development, including the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UNFCCC Climate Agreement. Through a multi-actor collaboration and a systematic approach, it has increased educational capacity and sustainability knowledge to tackle global environmental and social challenges, like the situation of refugees. Investigations have shown that long-term interventions are required to address the environmental degradation of settlement areas and ensure viable alternatives to energy sources.

CapSEM website

CapSEM testimonials:

CapSEM Testimonial AJosephine

CapSEM Testimonial BRanjanJha

CapSEM Testimonial BRanjanJha

CapSEM Testimonial SushilBBajracharya

CapSEM report

Ensuring Access and Quality Education for Students with Disabilities in Indonesian Universities’ (INDOEDUC4ALL)

  • ‘Ensuring Access and Quality Education for Students with Disabilities in Indonesian Universities’ (INDOEDUC4ALL) contributed to help universities in Indonesia to develop the capacity of its members (leaders, professors, and administrative staff) in addressing the educational need of students with disabilities. Modern support centres for disabilities have been created and equipped with assistive technologies. They ensure the accessibility of the teaching-learning processes and include students with disabilities in this process, thus empowering them.


Enhancing Postgraduate Environments’ (EPE)

  • ‘Enhancing Postgraduate Environments’ (EPE): This project includes a mixed partnership between the historically advantaged and disadvantaged universities in South Africa. Forms of co-supervision have been introduced; they contribute to better learning and quality of education for all at PhD level

EPE website

EPE introduction 

EPE social justice in research

Building Inclusive Urban Communities’ (BInUCom):  

  • ‘Building Inclusive Urban Communities’ (BInUCom):  The project aimed at answering to the demand for architects and urban planners in India, where rapid urbanisation is expected to lead to a housing shortage in Indian cities of about 30 million people by 2022. This will create difficult living conditions for poor urban people. Architects need to be able to deal with the complex challenges of sustainable social housing and the development of inclusive urban communities. The project supported the production of Open Educational Resources, and increased the relevance of architecture and planning studies by introducing multidisciplinary topics such as social inclusion and sustainable housing. Several case studies and videos on the experiences ( of participants are available.

BInUCom website

BInUCom introduction:

Social Inclusion and Energy Management for Informal Urban Settlements’ (SES)

  • ‘Social Inclusion and Energy Management for Informal Urban Settlements’ (SES): The issue of migration is central to the phenomenon of rapid urbanization in the Ethiopian context. Even though the country’s vast population is still predominantly rural, recent decades have seen unprecedented rural-urban migration, which remains unabated to this day. However, many aspects of this process, such as the mechanisms that provide migrants with housing in distinct “arrival” locations, are still widely unexplored and overlooked by administrations and politics. Therefore, SES project’s case studies ( address these questions directly. In so doing, they investigate the mechanisms of people’s adaptation to shifting economic constraints in diverse locations, which are not only relevant for domestic but also for international migration. 

SES website:

Building Resilient Urban Communities (BReUCom)

Increased frequency of natural hazards and sea-level rise are among the expected impacts of climate change in India. Marginalized urban settlements are often vulnerable to disaster, due to their location in areas and the use of cheap building materials, and their inhabitants are strongly affected by climate change. There is a need for a paradigm shift in the education of graduate students in spatial planning and design, and in the training of urban professionals from different backgrounds. BReUCom conceives and pilots postgraduate short-term Professional Development Programs (PDPs) targeting real world problems, engaging students from grassroots background, unable to spend time and financial resources on full Masters Programs.BReUCom website:

BReUCom cases studies

BReUCom Assessment Report - Lessons learnt from European Informality

Useful links

Action Plan on Integration and Inclusion 2021-2027:

New Pact on Migration and Asylum:

Council Recommendation of 22 May 2018 on Promoting Common Values, Inclusive Education and the European Dimension of Teaching:

Inclusive Development News:

Reducing inequality:

Migration and forced displacement:

OECD (2019). The Road to Integration:

European Commission, Eurydice (2019). Integrating Asylum Seekers and Refugees into Higher Education in Europe: National Policies and Measures: 

European Commission, Eurydice (2019). Integrating Students from Migrant Backgrounds into Schools in Europe: National Policies and Measures:

CBHE Regional reports (Impact studies):

CBHE Regional Factsheets:

CBHE Statistics:

Erasmus+ results platform:

Live event (join us!)

Thursday 28 January
(BRU time)

Meeting number:
175 719 9284
(32668420 from phones and video systems)

 Join the web meeting