(Vienna, 15 March 2016) Within the framework of the MORE project, set up by the Austrian university conference uniko last autumn, and also in conjunction with its own mentoring program, MedUni Vienna is currently offering 13 refugees from Syria and Iran the opportunity to fulfil all the preconditions necessary to participate in the MedAT admissions procedure in July 2017 for a place to study medicine in Vienna.
"It's hard going for them but a great opportunity," stresses the leader of the mentoring program, Angelika Hofhansl. "It is now down to the refugees themselves whether they are able to take it. We made this clear to them in an initial interview." They will not be given any special concessions or any guarantee of admission. By spring 2017, when registration starts, the 13 university applicants – four women and nine men, will have had to pass a lot of exams, for example in subjects such as chemistry or physics, because their school leaving certificate from home does not count here, and they must learn to speak German fluently, in order to be able to understand the MedAT questions. MedUni Vienna is also providing financial support for this course.
Intercultural skills and social integration
Starting now, they will be accompanied on this journey by 20 "buddies" – these are mentees who are being helped by mentors as part of the MedUni Vienna mentoring program, which has been running since 2009. "The aim is to offer students starting out on their careers the opportunity to benefit from the experience, knowledge and networks of established scientists," explains Hofhansl. As part of the MORE initiative, refugees will now benefit from the mentees' experiences. Mentors are also available to provide support.
The kick-off meeting took place in the middle of February. At this meeting, Hofhansl und Christine Binder-Fritz, who teaches the University course "Transcultural Medicine and Diversity Care", taught the mentees about intercultural skills in a four-hour seminar and also addressed questions such as "what does it mean to flee?" and "how do you cope with a trauma?” Hofhansl: "However, our 20 existing buddies were already aware of the topic or had already received training about it. Some of them have taken part in 'Train of Hope' and some of them come from distant countries themselves or have already had dealings with refugee aid."
The assistance given by the mentees will not only help to support the refugees in student life but also with ancillary factors such as social integration or by offering unofficial joint activities.