Several dozen students with a refugee status are currently enrolled at the University of Luxembourg on the bachelor and master levels. They study a wide variety of topics from biomedical research to IT, from economics to finance. Though refugee students are eligible for the CEDIES scholarships, these often do not suffice for the basic needs of these students, who have very little means other than their modest revenues from student jobs (which disappeared altogether during the pandemic). Those who are affected the hardest are young women with children who cannot stay in student housing, cannot easily work on the side, and are faced with the high rent prices in this country. As international students have to live in Luxembourg to be eligible to study at the University of Luxembourg, many such students urgently need financial support in order to be able to continue their studies.
The Lions Clubs of Luxembourg recognised this issue a few years ago. Alex Bernard, member of the Lions Club Glasburen, was one of the first members that raised awareness of the precarious situation of refugee students: “It was by complete coincidence that I personally met a young woman with refugee status, who studies at the University. When I realised how much she was struggling while really trying to finish her studies and successfully integrate into the Luxembourg workforce, I knew I had to do something”, Alex Bernard explains. And that, he did. A few months later M. Bernard had informed all Lions Clubs in Luxembourg and most of them were interested to help. He also collaborated with the University’s Fundraising Team, to identify additional donors. One foundation that showed a lot of interest in this project was the Fondation Veuve Emile Metz-Tesch, one of the oldest foundations created in the Grand-Duchy, which supports mostly educational and social causes. “The steel industry in Luxembourg, whose contribution to the country’s development is well known, was built in part thanks to workers from the four corners of Europe, and even today, a large number of nationalities are mixing every day in the plants and support functions. It is therefore quite coherent that the Foundation supports such an initiative that promotes inclusion and multiculturalism in the Grand Duchy. We really believe that it is important to help those people in Luxembourg who have been less fortunate than us. These young people have an incredible drive to succeed here in Luxembourg and we should support them in doing so”, explains Pascal Moisy, project manager of the FVEMT.
Since the beginning of this initiative, the Lions Clubs of Luxembourg, together with the FVEMT, have donated more than 150,000 EUR to support deserving refugee students in need. Almost all of these students have done very well and soon the first students supported by this partnership will graduate and enter the Luxembourg workforce.