Current migration situation in the EU: Education

This report assesses asylum seekers’ and refugees’ opportunities to access early
childhood education and primary, secondary and tertiary education and training.
It identifies measures available for their support, as well as possible areas for

For some Member States, the information does not apply to the whole territory, pertaining only to select regions or localities. More specifically, this report covers the following regions/localities: Styria, Vienna (Austria); Sofia, Harmanli (Bulgaria); North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria (Germany); Madrid, Melilla (Spain); Helsinki (Finland); Île-de-France, Nouvelle Aquitaine (France); Lombardi, Emilia Romagna (Italy); Stockholm, Malmö (Sweden); Opatovska Nova Ves, Nitra (Slovakia). The information on Denmark, Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands and Poland does not focus on any particular regions or localities.

This report covers:

  • Legal framework
  • Statistics and numbers
  • Children in immigration and detention
  • Early childhood detention
  • Primary and secondary education of asylum seekers and refugees
  • Challenges affecting the education system
  • Accessibility of services at school
  • Children with special educational needs
  • Education of children above compulsory school age
  • Education of adults
  • Budget and human resources constraints
  • Further information

Main findings

  • Official statistics on the number of asylum seekers and refugees in various types of formal education exist in most Member States. They are not collected systematically, however, and may refer to various groups including asylum-seeking children, refugee children, non-national children and children with a migration background.
  • In nine out of 14 Member States covered by this report, children in immigration detention have no access to any form of education. The main reason stated for this is the short length or the exceptional nature of their detention. The remaining six Member States offer various types of informal education. Only three of them offer it regardless of the short duration of the children’s stay.
  • The main challenges concerning access to early childhood education include long waiting periods, language barriers, accessibility in terms of distance, insufficient guidance for families, lack of information provided on such opportunities, low allowances for asylum applicants to cover expenses, and the treatment and integration of traumatised children.
  • In three Member States, asylum seekers and refugees do not have access to formal school education in some parts or regions.
  • Once enrolled in school, asylum-seeking children generally benefit from the same services as national children and in some Member States are also eligible for additional support such as language courses or financial allowances for school supplies or support concerning disabilities.
  • Once enrolled in school, asylum-seeking children generally benefit from the same services as national children. In some Member States they are also eligible for additional support such as language courses, financial allowances for school supplies and support concerning disabilities.
  • In four Member States, traumatised children have access to some form of psychological support, but this support does not specifically target children with a refugee background. Support that takes account of combinations of vulnerabilities in the individual child is rarely available. Locations in only three Member States report that teachers have received support or guidance in dealing with traumatised children, such as special guidelines and training on identification and treatment of children with trauma.
  • Only few Member States specifically address educational needs arising from irregular school attendance before children’s arrival in the country.
  • Many Member States report difficulties with regard to education of children who are above the compulsory school age. Such difficulties include a lack of sufficient language skills, forcing children to attend classes for younger age groups, and the absence of programmes providing access to vocational training.
  • A key obstacle to adults’ access to tertiary education and employment is that it is impossible or complicated to recognise diplomas from learning institutions in the asylum seeker’s country of origin.
  • Most Member States increased their budgets and human resources for education in response to the migration crisis in 2015/16. However, support in some Member States depends on projectbased funding.