First network conference Project SIREE in Middelburg

Representatives of nine partners from four European member states gathered in Middelburg for the first network conference on the 4th of October. Project SIREE brings the combined forces of educational institutions, local government, non-governmental organizations and charity organizations together to improve the social integration of refugees through education and self-employment.

Together they work on better integration of refugees. First, families of refugees will become more involved in education. By developing learning communities in different schools (nursery, primary, secondary) the project partners want to increase the involvement of parents and children. In addition, another focus is on entrepreneurship. Refugees are guided in the establishment of their own company and the development of a supporting network of entrepreneurial mentors.

The event was officially opened by Mayor Harald Bergman. Among others, Prof. dr. Dr. Barbara Oomen of University College Roosevelt spoke about her research on 'Cities of Refuge', Monique Doppegieter of the TAAT foundation on teaching method 'Total Physical Response’, and Em. Prof. dr. Dr. Koo van der Wal, on his book ‘Looking for the soul of Europe'. The day ended with a visit to companies founded by entrepreneurs with a migration background.


SIREE stands for the Social Integration of Refugees through Education and self-Employment. The EU’s Interreg 2 Seas program funds the forty-month program for 2.9 million euro. The nine partners include: University of Greenwich (lead partner) (UK), VIVES University College (BE), Medway Plus (UK), University College Roosevelt (NL), City of Mechelen (BE), ADICE (FR), Municipality of Middelburg (NL), ARhhus (BE) and Learning Shop Flanders (BE).

Societal Challenges

Each partner brings their expertise to tackle the European challenge of the recent influx of refugees. Together, the partners will create and test innovative solutions to tackle the key societal challenge of social exclusion of refugees by developing increased access to education and self-employment. SIREE will co-create learning communities amongst refugees, train teachers and help refugees start up their own businesses.This is essential for the future of Europe, where over 1.2m refugees arrived in 2016.

A Unique Project

SIREE is particularly unique because it draws upon the experience and knowledge generated at a regional level and brings this together in a cross-border approach. For the first time, the refugee family unit will be engaged in understanding their own problems and developing their own solutions. This bottom-up process of co-creation in which both education and employment are essential aspects enables refugees to take control of their future, improve access routes to education and encourage and inspire self employment.

About Interreg 2 Seas

Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 is a European Territorial Cooperation Program covering England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium. The program is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. The overall objective is to develop an innovative, knowledge and research based, sustainable and inclusive 2 Seas area. In order to realize this, projects that directly contribute to one of the Specific Objectives can be part-financed for up to 60 % of their total project budget.

Project details

Project number: 2S03-035 SIREE

Start date: March 1, 2018

End date: June 30, 2021

For more information, please contact the Project Coordinator at the University of Greenwich Elaine King at or +44 208 331 9083

For press contacts, please contact the Communications Officer at University College Roosevelt Ms. Marieke van de Laar at or +31 118 655 553

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