We Are Here Academy

Photos: Manette Ingenegeren and Djoelia van der Velden

The We Are Here Academy is an educational initiative offering university-level courses for undocumented individuals. The We Are Here Academy upholds the rights for any person, whether or not in possession of legal status, to pursue an education.

In the Netherlands, refugees in limbo are not allowed to enroll in universities because they lack the documentation required for admission.

At the We Are Here Academy, professional lecturers teach university-level courses on a voluntary basis. Like other institutions for higher learning, every course is concluded with an exam, when students pass the exam they get a certificate, which describes the level of the course, and provides contact information of the academy and teachers who vouch for the level of the course and can act as a reference for the student. These certificates testify that the students have passed a course on an academic level. Since the We Are Here Academy cannot grant study credits (ECTS) the certificates are signed by the lecturers on a personal title, meaning that they – as lecturers – vouch for the capabilities of the student. We Are Here Academy courses are taught within but outside Dutch official educational institutions, meaning they physically take place within the classrooms and lecture halls of universities and other educational institutes but they are unregistered, unofficial courses that take place outside the university bureaucracy.

The We Are Here Academy gives students the opportunity to develop themselves. We believe education is a valuable way to sharpen one’s mind, to further one’s development and to more effectively understand and influence the forces that shape our lives. But, it also has an important social dimension, it is a place for people to meet and connect. There is a lot of knowledge between students and, thus, the Academy serves a platform for knowledge exchange.

However, the We Are Here Academy is not a charity; it is a protest initiative designed to point out the deficits of the current system, while at the same time providing refugees in limbo the opportunity to emancipate. It gives voice to people who have been silenced. Moreover, all the courses taught at the academy are designed to enable students to make their voices heard, and to facilitate their protest. From this idea, various courses ranging from asylum law, Dutch politics, history of protest movements, dance in demonstrations, and vocal training have been offered to students since the initiation of the Academy in Spring 2014.

In the 2015/2016 academic year, the We Are Here Academy’s curriculum will focus on the theme of ‘presentation and representation’. In preparation of the ‘We Are Here Occupying the Border’ Forum the Academy will offer a range of media courses to teach students journalistic skills, so they can represent themselves in media, instead of  being dependent on mainstream media and journalists.

Want to know more about the We Are Here Academy?
Contact us here