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 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 103 (Suppl.), April 2007



Dr. HermannWeber

Secretary General, KAAD 


Foreign students and scientists in Germany: pastoral, social and strategic approach

Germany is actually with about 250.000 foreign students the third receiving country of migrants in the field of education in the world (after the USA and close to the UK) showing rapidly growing numbers of Eastern European but also f. ex. Chinese students. Only about 25% of these foreigners are children of migrants which obtained their secondary education degree already in Germany. This increasing inflow reflects on one hand the growing mobility inside the EU or Europe as a whole -Bulgaria and Russia are major sending countries-, where Germany is recovering its role of attraction pole for the Eastern part of the continent, on the other hand the enormous (demographic) pressure behind the still not adequately developed (higher) education systems of booming countries like China and India. The motivation to go to Germany and to cope with the challenge to learn its difficult language is, beside the high standard of its universities, the up to now prevailing absence of study fees, attractive first of all for the students from developing countries (68% of which have been highly influenced by this factor) combined with the hope of these `free movers' to sustain themselves through jobs. The structural crisis of the German labour-­market and the possibility for the German universities to introduce study-fees for undergraduate studies too (since January 2005), or make the social and economic situation of many students more difficult or create a growing uncertainty about the future and the viability of their 'education- investment' in Germany.

Since about 1996 there is a consensus among the main political groups that the so called `internationalisation’ of German universities and research-institutes is crucial in order to improve Germany’s position in the global market-place where knowledge and research together with a successful `headhunting’ of highly skilled persons are seen as key-factors. Globalisation together with the process of European integration in terms of Higher Education (Bologna-process etc.) are pushing the political authorities to realise reforms which often don't respect the traditional values and even assets of the existing German university-culture. The intention to copy an anglo-saxon model of Bachelor-Master-PhD - which in itself is far from being homogenous - together with the growing number of courses exclusively offered in English witness a certain lack of cultural sensibility. `Internationalisation’ has been understood until about two years ago first of all in quantitative terms of growing foreign students’ numbers; the massive (social and administrative) problems caused by this inflow, urged then the authorities to think more consequently in qualitative terms attracting first of all promising students who could later even help to fill the lack in certain sectors of the labour market concerning highly skilled workers and researchers (f. ex. in the context of the not very successful Green-Card initiative and the enduring German brain drain).

Inside this new panorama the Church has to rethink too her traditional pastoral, social and strategic approach to foreign students and scientists in Germany. Since the German universities became more international in the 1950s and, at the same time, the German Catholic Church opened her work to a World Church dimension through the foundation of international pastoral and development orientated help organisations, the approach to foreign students in Germany was characterised by solidarity and dialogue at the same time. In this double sense special pastoral care was offered to students from developing countries who are not only (and increasingly) in more precarious social conditions than European students but are also suffering more deeply a cultural and religious desorientation. As the majority of them are non-christians, this pastoral care included always an inter-religious dimension. German lay people founded in 1958 the KAAD. Recognised by the Bishops Conference as clearing and scholarship-organisation, its reform in the late 1980s established a structure of `labour-division’ between a care for foreign students with emphasis in the pastoral and social field inside the different German dioceses through the university chaplaincies, and a strategic approach via scholarships and special education programmes realised by KAAD. As central clearing agency KAAD tries together with the representatives of the dioceses and the responsible pastoral operatives for international work of the chaplaincies (often lay people, in Eastern Germany mainy the chaplains themselves) to coordinate the assistance, to provide the adequate financial means and to channel political advocacy and lobbying. In this latter aspect the ecumenical work and the overall good relations to the protestant activities and actors in this field on all levels is not only helpful but in a more and more secularising society even crucial.

As to the Catholic Church, her universal and `transnational’ character as "communio" on world level is the `natural’ theological basis for her solidarity and dialogue in the international sector of the German universities. Welcoming and integrating the foreign students, offering them a forum of intercultural and inter-religious exchange - also through homes/hostels run by Catholic dioceses or congregations - , helping them in economically, socially and psychologically critical situations, is at the same time only a starting point for a mutual enrichment which prepares us to experience and learn from their cultural and spiritual difference and profundity. This dimension of the university chaplaincies as intercultural and inter-religious learning and study-communities is recognised by the German bishops and expressed in an exemplary way f. ex. in a decree of the Archbishop of Cologne (September 1999). The different forms of pastoral and social work, but also the significant financial amount invested in personnel and grants are documentated through an inquiry published every three years by KAAD (next report will be released in July 2006). In general it can be stated that in the same degree in which the internationalisation of the Higher Education sector increases, the Catholic Church should activate and increase her World Church-orientated potentials of pastoral care in this field - creating thereby not only nuclei of international solidarity but also new forms of interface between the communio of the Church and the scientific community as key-­factor of international development and peace.

Focussing on the European dimension, it is worthnoting that shortly after Vatican II a first European network of chaplains (mostly ancient missionary workers) has been established as “Conférence des aumôniers d'étudiants d'Afrique, d'Amérique Latine et d'Asie en Europe” which did not survive the early 1970s. The yearly encounters of the responsibles of German speaking countries (KAAD/Germany, AAI/Austria, Justinuswerk/Switzerland) formed afterwards the nucleus for the SECIS-network which after the encouraging experience of the first Rome Congress in 1996 met in a follow-up meeting in Bonn 1997 and then every year in a more and more institutionalised way hoping to enlarge and to include more associated members even from outside Europe in the follow-up of our actual meeting here.

The Role of Scholarships

The KAAD is the largest Catholic scholarship organisation in the area of international educational collaboration in the world. It is mainly meant for Catholic lay people including in some programmes in a more specific way an ecumencial and inter-religious aspect and trying to connect its work with those institutions of the Church in (German)  which are more directly promoting the education of priests and members of religious congregations. To my knowledge no other local Church made such an effort to create an institution which is far beyond a scholarship distributing agency an international network of high potential scholars in all academic fields and multipliers in all sectors of the society and comprises actually 53 partner committees in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe and 17 Alumni-associations.

One may doubt if this approach to elites in the academic field through scholarships could be too far from the original pastoral work the Church should develop in the field of international students, if in general this form of financial support - which has to include f. ex. also a juridical aspect - could not even hamper the sphere of dialogue and exchange we try to create in our chaplaincies. However, a sustainable and lasting partnership together with an attempt to create networks and to help building institutions needs a solid base and shared responsibility as characterising the KAAD-programmes which bring closely together financial support, pastoral assistance, educational work in a holistic sense and networking in the home countries of the alumni.

With her scholarship-programmes the Church in German  enters definitely the field of (future) elites and leadership development, elites not defined by power­-criteria but first of all by the radius of social responsibility they attain and the multiplying effects their work may create in view of a more socially integrated society (at local community, national but in the era of globalisation also at global level). Given the importance of responsible leadership and human capacity building in general in all development and transformation processes (inside the Church’s genuine work or outside in her radiation into societal and political life), scholarships are an extremely effective - and relatively cheap - investment compared with large and often not sustainable development projects.

It is significant that Pope John Paul II recognised in various contexts the role of promotion through scholarships proposing f. ex. scholars for the KAAD as Archbishop of Knakov, supporting the John Paul II foundation in Lublin or donating the Ettore Majorana Science for Peace prize to fund scholarships for students from the Third World (ZENIT News Agency, Dec. 7, 2004).

Current challenges and perspectives

1. The German pastoral and strategic approach of solidarity and dialogue with foreign students and scientists depends a great deal on a well developed system of financial aid and availability of personnel in the university chaplaincies, students hostels and central agencies like KAAD. The significant decrease of church-tax income - due first of all to economic and demographical developments in Germany - presents a serious challenge to the responsible actors on local, diocesan and central level. Unfortunately it coincides with the still quantitatively intensifying `internationalisation’ of the German universities and the mentioned growing financial and social problems of international students mainly from developing countries. Creative solutions on the local level are demanded leading to a (voluntary) mobilisation of all actors, first of all the international students themselves, followed by an intensified political lobbying with the Church presenting herself as an essential and necessary factor in this `internationalisation’ wherever it is understood as a chance for intercultural and inter-religious encounter and holistic education.

2. The reform of the German university system according to the Bologna-­process will lead to shorter and more time-intensive curricula (often in English language) which will limit the students' possibilities of (profound) encounter which society, mentality and culture of the receiving country Germany and accelerate their mobility, education- and life-rhythm. (At the same time this process will prevent the free-movers (without scholarships) in many cases to sustain themselves through additional jobs.) The challenge for the pastoral workers will then be to protect international students from ghetto-like isolation and to offer Christian communities also as forum of authentic encounter with culture and spirituality of the host country. To a certain extent the Church agents will have to incorporate in their work the holistic approach to education as `Bildung’ in the German traditional sense in the same measure as universities restrict themselves to a more technical and profession/labour market oriented education.

3. The lack of highly skilled personnel in some sectors of the economy and research is favourable to a ‘brain-gain’ of foreign workforce through the attraction of international students. A new broadly discussed paradigma in German development-policy favours the `diasporas’ (in the sense of migrant communities of expatriate nationals) as effective development agents (through remittances, Foreign Direct Investments in their home­-countries, transfer of knowledge) devaluating the traditional return and re­integration option for students from developing and countries in transformation processes. Against short term and short-sighted attempts of instrumentalisaiton of international students for mainly economic reasons the Church has to defend the welfare of the poorer countries for which brain drain in the given global economic circumstances is an even growing problem. The (pastoral) objective of helping to integrate the students shouldn't contradict the orientation towards their re-integration and a concrete engagement for their home-countries, societies and churches.

4. The Church in German  with her highly sophisticated system of World-­Church and development-oriented organisations should connect in a more organic manner her project- and capacity-building activities reserving an adequate domain for the promotion of leadership-development in which international students and scientists play an important part. 

In terms of a general conclusion the German experience favours clearly a particular pastoral approach towards migrants in the education and research field through university chaplaincies, international student hostels and scholarship organisations (which combine material, educational and spiritual assistance) closely linked to development activities for and spiritual exchange with partner-Churches mainly in developing countries. Inside this horizon university chaplaincies or (transnational) communities of scholars like KAAD can be a true `catholic’ microcosmos of the universal Church that the Instruction "Erga migrantes caritas Christi" (34;37) aims at.


KAAD (ed.): Die Katholische Kirche im Prozess der Internationalisierung der deutschen Hochschulen. Ergebnisse einer Diözesanumfrage 2002. Bonn 2003. Weber, Hermann. Internationale Mobilität in Studium und Wissenschaft als Herausforderung für die Kirche, in: People on the Move 82, 4/2000, p. 13-27.

Weber, Hermann. Globalisierte Fachkraft und Diaspora - ein neues Paradigma für kirchliche Stipendien- und Entwicklungspolitik? In: People on the Move 88-­89, 4-8/2002, p. 259-266.

Weber, Hermann. Brain Drain and Diaspora Networks: Limits and Chances for the Arab World, in: Carsten-Michael Walbiner (ed.): The Role of Universities in the Dialogue of Cultures and Religions. Bonn 2006.

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Rev. Christopher McCoy

Coordinator of University Chaplains

(England & Wales) 


In the United Kingdom, there are over 300,000 International Students in Higher Education. Of these 300,000, approximately 200,000 are from outside Europe.

With such large numbers of international students, the United Kingdom universities are developing into international and multicultural communities. Most of them are secular institutions funded largely by the government. (There are only a very small number of Catholic universities) In the majority of the institutions, staff and students of many different faiths and beliefs live and study, side by side.

I believe that the universities have a key role to play in the global challenge of justice and peace. The university provides a unique environment for exchange and mutual understanding.

The presence of so many international students is both a gift and a challenge. Our society is enriched by their presence and yet, increasingly, they challenge our institutions, assumptions and structures. This is good. We learn that our way of doing things is not the only way.

There are many good examples of university chaplaincies in the United Kingdom working positively and creatively to make international students welcome. In England and Wales, for example, we have 120 chaplains working in approximately 90 universities. They offer hospitality. They encourage friendship and help to integrate the international student into the local church community. Many chaplains say that they have growing numbers of international students using the chaplaincy centre, attending mass, coming to social and cultural events. At times international students come for help with study, financial or visa problems. Some are home-sick, lonely or are struggling with ‘cultural shock’. Much of this work is done ecumenically, working with the other Christian churches. It is often very practical, down-to-earth and routine. It is part of our Christian understanding of ‘making the stranger welcome.’

‘Making the stranger welcome’ in the university also involves a deeper form of hospitality. This is done by creating, what I call, ‘safe space’. Many university chaplains in my country try and create a place of welcome where the student feels safe and respected.

The university chaplaincy becomes a ‘safe space’ when it is has environment, a culture, where people are treated with respect and dignity.

It is a ‘safe space’ when we attempt to build good relations with people of different faiths and beliefs.

The university chaplaincy is a ‘safe space’ when we try to understand what international students actually believe and value and letting them express this in their own terms.

One very practical and simple example of what I mean by this is a voluntary programme for students which has been organised by the Chaplains at the University of Southampton. It is called ‘Speak with Pride and Listen with Respect.’

It works like this.

A theme is chosen: Prayer, Fasting, Morality, Our Idea of God, Eternal Life or something similar.

Students are asked to speak for five minutes on what their faith teaches them about the theme. They are asked to ‘speak with pride’ and the other members of the group are asked to ‘listen with respect.’

They each speak in turn: Catholic, Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, etc. At the end, there is no question and answer session. Then they share some food and have time for informal conversation.

It is a ‘safe space’ where they learn to understand what other actually believe and value. It is a ‘safe space’ where they let others say in their own words what they believe and where they listen with respect.

This programme is very simple. It is based on the belief that we all have a great deal to learn from one another which can enrich us without undermining our own identities.

It is a first step on the road to building good relations with people of different faiths and beliefs.

It is only a first step, but it is an important step.

When my own country, along with much of European society, is disfigured by racism and when some political manifestations of religion become destructive, negative and a source of fear, it is all the more important that our universities become places of mutual understanding, respect and tolerance.

In ‘Erga migrantes caritas Christi’ it is said:

“As Christians we are followers of Jesus the man on the move ‘who has nowhere to lay his head.’” (EMCC15)

May Christ Jesus, the ‘man on the move,’ help us create in our universities ‘safe spaces’ where the stranger, the international student, is able to rest in safety and where they are truly made welcome.

* * * * * * *

Chaplaincy of Dublin City University

International students in Britain and Ireland have a high profile. Issues affecting them are constantly in the news.          

Some basic information and statistics about them are supplied in Appendix A to show the context in which CCIS works. It is worth recording from the outset that:

1.         International students no longer see themselves as grateful, quiescent recipients of our services. They challenge our institutions, assumptions and structures.

2.         Most international students return home. Through exposure to tertiary education in developed countries, those from disadvantaged countries become more aware of how international economics affect their own countries. The education they receive equips them to be analytical, articulate and influential. Many acquire fluency in the English language for the first time.

3.         Universities are international and multicultural communities. They have a key role to play in the global challenge of justice and peace. They provide a unique environment for exchange and mutual understanding. World awareness is enhanced among home students by the presence of their international peers. 

1. CCIS' Fund Raising capacity

CCIS has been successful in releasing new income. This activity is dependent on, and feeds into, its role in awareness raising, networking, information sharing and advocacy:

1.1 Over £ 2,500,000 of scholarship income from the government. Women and development studies have high priority for these awards. (4.1 and 5.2)

1.2 Over £ 1,000,000 for emergency student hardship. (5.1)

1.3 CCIS has recently been appointed by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) to administer £ 40,000 made available by government for students in difficulty as a direct result of the Tsunami of 26 December 2004. (4.4)

2. CCIS Membership and Brief:

CTBI* members are automatically members of its Commissions. CCIS has 10 other member bodies, six of which have joined the Commission in the past 18 months. To summarise CCIS' brief, its aims focus in three main areas of work:

1.         To work alongside and in support of the Churches in the full range of their work with international students, especially chaplaincies, and scholarship advisers.

2.         To promote good practice and raise issues of injustice as they affect international students. CCIS works with specialist NGOs, most importantly UKCOSA, in achieving these aims. It does so by bringing its experience and expertise to bear on national issues e.g. immigration policy and critique of market policy and practice. Principles of fair trade must be a component in the marketing of international education.

3.         To give such direct support to students as lies within its remit. (5) 

3. CCIS' work with Churches

Priority areas that have emerged in the past two years are:

3.1 To increase work with chaplains in all four nations. They are now the main focus of the Churches’ contact with international students. Most chaplains do not have specialist training in international student affairs.

3.2 To make known the Churches' concerns about training in Britain/Ireland at national level. They are reflected more widely and are mainly about cost and immigration and development issues. At the CCIS October residential meeting we will be examining regulations that encourage `brain drain’.

3.3  Further to develop strategies to promote justice and peace and to counteract hostility and/or suspicion in cross-cultural and inter Faith relations. International students, especially the Moslems, have made faith issues a priority for our educational institutions.

4. Relations with Government, British Council and NGOs

Opportunities have emerged for dialogue and advocacy as well as practical work with government departments, the British Council, the Universities UK (UUK), Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and specialist NGOs:

4.1       Foreign and Commonwealth Office: CCIS negotiated and sustains two jointly sponsored agreements with the FCO that have enabled 189 students to take postgraduate courses. Thisinvolves work on policy as well as practice.

4.2       Home Office: CCIS has frequently needed to take up visa issues and is now a member of the virtual UK Visa Users Panel. It is currently involved with UKCOSA, UUK and the Immigration Advisory Service in opposition to the proposal in the Immigration and Asylum Bill to withdraw rights of appeal from international students whoare refused visas.

4.3       DfID: The Churches' concern to diversify types of award and countries of training has led to an open door for dialogue with DfID as well as the ACU.

4.4       DfES: This is a new contact that arose because CCIS has been identified as the only national organisation ready efficiently to dispense emergency fundsto international students in a crisis situation.

4.5       FCO/BC/UUK/ACU/UKCOSA/Grant making trusts/Universities: CCIS set up dialogue with these bodies about policies and practice, identified in a review of the CCIS hardship fund, which can be predicted to result in hardship among international students. Some policies have changed as a result.

4.6       Government of Ireland: It is anticipated that contact with the government of the Irish Republic will emerge as a result of the chaplains at 3rd level in Ireland becoming a member body of CCIS. 

5. Work with students

5.1       Hardship Fund: The CCIS Hardship Fund gives small grants to enable students from developing countries who find themselves in unexpected hardship, who intend to return and who can show that their qualification will benefit their countries. The Fund has enabled over 2500 students to complete their studies. The funds are raised and administered mainly by volunteers and from sources external to the Churches: 100 awards were made in 2004.

5.2       WCC Scholarship Programme: The WCC scholarship programme offers scholarships to increase the human resource capacity of churches and related organisations for the benefit of the community through the further education/ training of their personnel. It provides both individual and group training scholarships. Scholarships are only awarded when the requesting body clearly demonstrates that the proposed study will be of benefit to their membership. In addition, development oriented scholarships are usually awarded to candidates who are members of churches and church related organisations that are a permanent part of civil society with a long commitment to communities, particularly in the areas of agriculture, medical science, education, community development, business, management and leadership development. The latest review of the programme will be available in November.

The WCC has already received 60 of 189 valuable awards provided by the FCO (4.1). It has been awarded 9 of the 14 awards for the academic year 2005-6. The FCO pays 50% of total cost and is accustomed to working on applications from the most senior levels of civic society. It applies high selection criteria.

CCIS supplies the only British/Irish member of the WCC Scholarships Working Group that determines policy and makes decisions about scholarships. The numbers of students in the UK/Ireland are: 2002/3 -11; 2003/4 -12; 2004/5 -9; 2005/6 -10. That fulfils the criteria set by Christian Aid in 2002.

5.3       Information and consultancy: CCIS provides a consultancy service on any issue international students, and those concerned for them, wish to raise. A key task is to keep abreast of resources for accurate referral.     CCIS produces an annual welcome leaflet for international students. Its distribution was extended to the four nations in 2004. 

6. Future and Ecumenical Architecture

Along with all other parts of CTBI’s work, CCIS was required to produce a review of its work for the Ecumenical Architecture process. Its brief will remain essentially unchanged and no change in CTBI income or staffing is proposed. It will be a part of a Global Relations team (perhaps by another name) with the successor to CCOM and International Affairs. 

7. Relation to CA Strategic Plan

Factors to be born in mind when considering this question are (a) Christian Aid requested CCIS to take over the administration of the WCC scholarship programme in Britain and Ireland as an addition to the co-operation that already existed (b) CCIS is tiny compared to Christian Aid (c) CCIS works among a large, diverse community of people from all countries of the world and (d) works largely as a facilitator and advocate within a series of overlapping networks of Church, NGOs and government. It aims to change structures.

Specific areas of CCIS' work are directed solely towards students from developing countries e.g. financial assistance is given only to students from those countries. However there is a point at which the different groups of international students are involved in the same educational and personal issues and similar laws. It would be impossible, even undermining of our aim of improving understanding between different groups of students, for CCIS to be selective when addressing those issues and laws.

Appendix B, a sample of recent WCC students, is provided to illustrate links between international students, and intrinsic to the work CCIS does to support them, with Focus Areas in Christian Aid's Strategic Plan.

7.1       Focus Area- HIV/AIDS

International students from HIV/AIDS affected countries who study the medical or social science; invariably cite HIV/AIDSprevention and treatment along with attendant community issues as a key feature of their work. This is obvious in the applications received by the WCC and will apply to other students in these subjects from the same regions.

7.2       Focus Area: Secure Livelihoods

Given that a high proportion of scholarships awarded by government are directed towards development towards and human rights studies for developing countries it can reasonably be taken that those whoreceive them will make their contribution to the improvement of living standards in their own societies. There are clear links between secure livelihoods, health, disaster and conflict in scholarship applications.

CCIS has a unique role in emergency response strategy in other countries as they affect students in the UK/Ireland in e.g. its own hardship fund and its use by the DfFS to administer emergency relief funds. In the ten year review of the CCIS hardship fund 36% of students helped were in difficulty as a result of political or economic problems in their home countries.

7.3       Focus Area: Accountable governance

We know that some students supported by the Churches are active in campaigning for and with the poor and marginalized. Again, the fact that international law and human rights are key study topics backed by government and NGOs suggests that students in these subjects will make their contribution to their own societies at that level. Peace studies courses are in general oversubscribed. The mobility of students automatically introduces international awareness and personal connections into their experience.

7.4       Focus Area. Economic Justice

We do not engage with international finance institutions, except very occasionally to take up scholarship issues with e.g. the World Bank and multi nationals when students they support get into financial difficulty as a result of their scholarship policies.

7.5       Focus Area: Strengthening the Movement

CCIS has established a national profile relatively much larger than its size. It links church and government in the UK and church and diplomatic missions/British Council in countries overseas {joint responsibility for particular students) and ultimately all with each other. Christian Aid is visible among CCIS networks because of its partnership with CCIS and CCIS has a stronger voice because of that partnership. It works well for mutual strengthening. 

8. Finance and Staffing

CCIS works from a modest financial base. It has a full timeSecretary, a part time PA, a part time WCC Scholarships Officer, an unpaid, honorary Hardship Fund Secretary doing a professional piece of work almost full time and several volunteer helpers. Its income is derived 50% from the CTBI Common Pot, 25% from its fee-paying members and its own income generation and 25% from Christian Aid.

Significant practical implications of Christian Aid’s partnership with CCIS are:

1. CCIS is able to help the WCC scholarship programme and to justify the continuation of FCO scholarship income. Were the relationship between CCIS and the WCC to end (i) a scholarship income of c. £ 125K annually would be lost (ii) the WCC would not be able to train students in the UK.

2. Christian Aid and Church contributions to the hardship find are vital seed corn in encouraging external trusts, business and individuals to contribute financially. By this means CCIS helps to keep international issues alive among them. Loss of this income would incur a real reduction in CCIS’ capacity to fund raise for unforeseen hardship among students from developing countries. 

Appendix A

Basic international student information

1.         Statistics: Data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency shows the following for UK higher education in 2003-4.

  • 300, 060 international students, of whom 210,510 were from non EU countries.
  • 42,500 were studying health (medical and biological sciences, dentistry), veterinary science and agriculture; 38,000 engineering and technology; 27,505 social, economic and political subjects; 14,450 law and 12, 840 educational subjects.
  • India, Nigeria and Pakistan in the top ten sending countries.

2.         A 2004 UKCOSA survey (note: that CCIS helped to design)of 5000 international students found:

  • 75% were paying their fees (wholly or in part) and living expenses from their own or family/community resources. However, 50% had taken paid work in the UK in order to help cover their costs. 23% of research students were funded by their government, 24% by UK government sources and 31% by institutional scholarships.
  •    The main benefits of study in the UK the students mentioned included their academic experience, improving their English, meeting people from all over the world and learning about other cultures.

3.       Examples of national scholarship policy:

  • The Foreign and Commonwealth office (FCO) fully or partially sponsored 2,401 new scholars in 2003-4. 61.3% were from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Pacific and 13% from non EU Europe.
  • 48.5% of the total awards were for study in law/human rights, economics and politics, international relations, development/gender topics, health, environment, social services and education. The largest number was for law and human rights. 46.4% of the awards went to women.
  • The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) awarded 736 scholarships in 2002-3. 48% went to students from sub Saharan Africa and 30% to students from South Asia. The CSC has prioritised types of scholarship that can best promote the future prosperity of developing countries and ways of ensuring that the training of individuals will increase the capacity of developing country institutions.

Appendix B

Sample of recent WCC students

Note: Training forall of them was made dependent on CCIS securing 50%of cost.

1.         Joshua Kitakule (Uganda): Head of Peace and Justice Division, Church of Uganda Planning, Development and Rehabilitation Department, responsible for designing, developing and implementing peace and human rights activities. The Church has played a big role in advocacy for good governance. Masters in Conflict Resolution.

2.         John Gbongitta (Sierra Leone): Development officer, National Pentecostal Mission. Human rights activist in Amnesty International and the National Forum for Human Rights. TheChurch needs agricultural experts to develop strategies to resettle and rehabilitate displaced peasant farmers. Masters in Agronomy.

3.         Linnet Ouna (Kenya): Head of the Family Service Department of the Child Welfare Society of Kenya (CWSK). She participated in development of theKenya Children's Act 2001. CWSK has successfully alleviated early child marriage and female genital mutilation in some districts. It works to eliminate child labour and for economic empowerment of parents/guardians of vulnerable children. CSWK isthe only registered adoption society in Kenya. Training needed in international policies because, owing to HIV/AIDS, many African children are being adopted by families living abroad (relatives and otherwise). Masters in International Child Welfare.

4.        Dennis James (Sierra Leone): Development Coordinator of thefour Conference districts of the United Brethren in Christ. UBCfacilitates implementation of development emergency programmes and training needs of communities especially at rural level. Issues includeHIV/AIDS, disaster management, trauma healing, conflict management and peace building. Masters in Development Studies

5.        Najama Gill (Pakistan): Schools Monitoring Officer and Education Officer, Sarhad Rural Support Programme. She is committed to the development of minority groups, especially girls, in an area where thousands of people are falling further behind in basic human rights and has facilitated 70 women's self reliability groups, started health camps and successful micro finance and credit activities for small enterprises run by women involving over 500 people. Masters in Educational Leadership and Management.

6.        Margaret Nkhoma(Malawi): Runs human rights desk of Church Central Africa Presbyterian that helps to equip coordinators to educate rural communities in their human rights. She had a key role in theNetwork Against Gender Violence. Masters in HumanRights

7.        Sesele Mabonga (Botswana): Head of the Pudulongong Rehabilitation andDevelopment Trust for theblind. She has a major rolein the development of local cadres, strengthening the capacity of both policy and management at local community level to enable self help for people with disability. Masters in ChildHealth.

8.         Ruel Garcia (Philippines): ProgrammeCoordinator, South Luzon Area of theUnited Church of Christ in the Philippines. He organises church people to respond to the urgentneeds of victims of human rights violations in militarised areas. Masters in Poverty Reduction and Development Management.

* C.T.B.I. (Churches Together in Great Britain and Ireland)

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Mr. Rick C. Benson

National Coordinator

Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry


The national statistics would indicate that enrolment at Canadian universities recorded its strongest increase in 28 years during the academic year 2003/2004. Foreign Students accounted for 7% of the university population in 2003/2004, nearly double the proportion of 4% a decade earlier.

There are 70,000 students from other countries - half of them form Asia - enrolled in Canadian universities in 2003/2044, up 16.8% from the previous year. A conservative estimate for 2005 would be approximately 92,000 students.

Asian students accounted for nearly 50% of the total in foreign students. Approximately 19% of foreign students came from Europe; almost half of them are from France. 16% of foreign students came from North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, 13% from Africa, 4% from South America, 2% from Oceanic, and 5% of foreign students are not reported.

The above statistics are for total number of students. Our Chaplains/Campus Ministers report a different breakdown for those seeking pastoral care:

African - 30% - Asian - 25% - Latin American - 23 % - European - 22%

Overall more than 33% of foreign students were enrolled in Ontario universities and 30% in Quebec universities. British Columbia universities accounted for 11% and Alberta for 8%.

Among foreign students, both undergraduate and graduate level re-enrollments increased substantially in 2003/2004 compare to the previous year. Undergraduate enrolments rose 21% and the graduate student population rose 15%. [1] 

These statistics do not include Community Colleges and Technical Colleges.


Answers to the Questionnaire in view of the II World Congress for the Pastoral Care of Foreign Students

1. Some statistical data at the national level (number of foreign students in general and percentages).

Thereis a growing number of foreign students in or Canadian campuses. It is important to note that all Canadian colleges and universities have International Students offices wherethey have a various number of staff, depending on the size of the institution, wholook after the needs of international students. They have a national association and a federal government department that helps look after the needs of these students. Thereforein most cases pastoral care to International students is more specifically directed to the spiritual and not temporal needs of the students. Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry (CCCM) has chaplains/campus ministers or contacts in 74 campuses across Canada.

The2003 national statistics indicate that 70,000 international students are enrolled in Canadian universities and colleges. This was a 16% increase from the previous year 2002. Indications are that this increase would have continued in the past two years giving us approximately 92,000 in 2005.

Thepercentage of international student pastoral care breakdown wouldbe:

African - 30%

Asian - 25%

Latin American - 23

European - 22%

2. Themost urgent needs of these students and how can they be satisfied?

Themost urgent needs are community and fellowship.

Loneliness and personal counseling.

Cultural adjustment, includingpersonal interaction between the sexes. Spiritual activity, prayer and sacramental needs.

Different academic standards.

International students bring an ecclesiology that is often rooted in a deeper faith than their Canadian counterparts. Thefaith practice is often more engrained than their fellow Canadian students.

In the province of Quebec the majority of the Francophonestudents involved in campus ministry are International Students.

Ministering to Muslim students - help them understand a Canadian - Christian culture.

In terms of inter-religiousopenness there are at times some conflict brought from home cultures. This is more evidentin Moslem - Jewish student relations than Catholic. Although there are some difficulties with Catholic Jamaicans and Tamils in Toronto areas. In general there is little conflict brought to Canada. 

To address these issues:

More interaction with the Student Service Department of International Students is necessary.

Involvement with orientation of International students. - Prayer service of welcome.

Canadian Cultural workshops.

Invitation to Canadian Catholic Student Association regional conferences. Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for International students.

Invitation to participate in campus ministry and liturgies - focus on meeting their strengths.

International dinnersand events to share their culturewith others. 

3. In your country, who is responsible for the pastoral care of foreign students, as far as the Church is concerned? (At the level of the Episcopal Conference, through university chaplaincies or those for migrants? The parish? Through the Caritas? etc.) Advantages and disadvantages of the pastoral choices made in this regard.

Canadian Catholic Campus Ministry (CCCM) supports campus ministry and chaplaincy across Canada. Each chaplain or campus minister reports to his or her local Bishop or Catholic University President/Superior. There is no national organizational responsibility from a Church perspective for pastoral care to immigrants. Most large urban diocese has an Immigration Office or independent Catholic Immigration service. This International Congress has hi-lighted a deficiency in our national pastoral plan at the campus ministry level. This will be included in our new Strategic Plan that will be written early in 2006. Many individual campuses reach out to international students. It is speculated that international students would gravitate to universities that provide a Catholic presence on campus.

We are a country of immigrants; aside from our aboriginal peoples all of us have been immigrants at one time or another. And we continue to welcome immigrants and in fact rely on immigration for population growth. Therefore we have quite a mix of newly immigrated students who have come with their families or who may have had some cultural exposure and education in Canada prior to coming to university of college but continue to require pastoral care similar to newly arrived foreign students. The advantage of allowing local campus ministries to adapt to and respond to the needs of foreign students is that there is not a bureaucracy.

4. Is there any form of "clearing-organization" (first aid organ) for the welcome of foreign students in your Church? (Caritas, committee, group of pastoral agents, organization of scholarships, etc.)

No there is no clearing organization. The Canadian Bureau for International Education (CBIE) is the national association that advocates and promotes international education and the welcoming of International students. Most universities and colleges would be members. World University Services of Canada (WUSC) provides scholarships and other funding and support for international refugees to attend Canadian universities and colleges. This association includes many student run campus chapters. It is up to individual campuses ministers that make contact with foreign students.

5. What is the primary motivation (pastoral and theological) of any commitment with and for foreign students? (Charity, care for migrants, connection between Churches, university world and science; connection between Church and intellectuals and future elite groups, other possibilities).

The primary commitment is pastoral. Campus Ministers / Chaplains welcome foreign students in Christian hospitality. These students contribute to the overall community on campus. Perhaps an unconscious motivation would be to welcome these students as immigrants to Canada and indirectly to members of our local Church. There is at times some connection to other national or individual Catholic student or chaplain movements. Yearly meetings of the International Movement of Catholic Students (IMCS) and other international gatherings help facilitate these exchange and interaction. The IMCS could be used as an information conduit and communication bridge for international students moving from one country to another.

6. Does the pastoral care of foreign students include the ecumenical and inter-religious dimensions? In what concrete forms are they put into practice?

Chaplains work in an ecumenical and multi-faith setting in most campuses across Canada. Many chaplains maintain regular interaction with their fellow pastoral workers and often they plan and participate in inter- religious events and liturgies.

Where there is not a specific presence of religious support catholic campus ministers often provide that pastoral support. Proselytizing is not an aspect of our ministry but we do welcome those students who are searching for meaning and faith. Campus Ministry often provides sacred space for prayer - especially for Muslim students. Some Catholic Colleges residences provide pastoral care to female Muslim students. 

7. Is there any link between pastoral care for foreign students and the development projects that your Church supports in other countries?

None that I am aware of. Again there is foreign student sponsorship but primarily government and other non-government associations look these after.

8. Do pastoral agents operating for and with foreign students offer them a specific educational programme during their stay in your country? (Cultural shock, integration, reintegration in the countries of origin).

No. Any programs offered would be non-credit. These programs would be primarily focused on providing hospitality and community building. 

9. Do pastoral agents operating for and with foreign students offer them some form of aid? (Financial, lodging in hostels for Catholic students, emergency hostels, scholarships, support for reintegration in the country of origin...).

Some chaplaincies offer monetary aid. Many chaplancies/ campus ministries offer and administer student food banks, to help provide needy students with food and other essential items.

10. Is there any form of advocacy that pastoral agents do in favor of foreign students, in order to improve their juridical or social situation, to combat racism, etc?

Some chaplains are involved in university committees that address racism, discrimination based on race, creed, cultural and sexual orientation. Many of the chaplains/campus ministers would advocate on a case­-by-case situation. 

11. Are there other activities held in favor of foreign students that have not been mentioned so far?


12. Is there any kind of formation for those who are designated to carry out pastoral care among foreign students? What characteristics should pastoral agents have? (Knowledge of the language, openness, in the cultural sense, and towards the specific characteristics of the university world, etc. Please indicate).

A recent regional conference for ecumenical chaplains had International Students as it's theme. As a result of this preparation and the request of a number of campus ministers, we have added a workshop on Pastoral Care to International Students at our annual CCCM national conference. We have attended Student Service conferences where this topic is addressed. We have just joined the Canadian Bureau of International Education(CBIE). They have a number of print and video resources that we have ordered for our resource lending. These resources address issues and concerns of international students.


* * * * * * *

Sig. Giampiero FORCESI

UCSEI (Italia)


In questo intervento cercheremo di raccontare come l’UCSEI ha "visto" la situazione degli studenti esteri in Italia, e che cosa ha sperimentato e proposto.

Abbiamo voluto tenere come guida, nell'intervento, la "Erga migrantes caritas Christi" (EMCC).

In quel documento gli studenti esteri sono citati una volta, al n. 87, dove si dice che i laici, le associazioni laicali e i movimenti ecclesiali - forse anche con un apposito ministero non ordinato dell'accoglienza - si debbono impegnare a introdurre i migranti nella comunità ecclesiale e civile e poi anche ad aiutarli "in vista di un eventuale ritorno in Patria". E si aggiunge che "una particolare attenzione si riserverà in questo contesto agli studenti esteri".

Quali criteri, quali orientamenti pratici possono caratterizzare questa "particolare attenzione" agli studenti esteri?

Sulla base dell'esperienza, ormai lunga 40 anni, dell'Ucsei, ci sembra di poter individuare nella stessa EMCC alcuni passaggi che hanno un particolare significato per la questione degli studenti esteri e per l'impegno pastorale che è necessario sviluppare nei loro riguardi. 

Indicheremo 4 punti.

1) "Pregiudizi e sospetti"

Le parole "sospetto" e "pregiudizio" sono parole chiave nella storia recente dell'immigrazione in Italia.

La EMCCle usa in tre diverse occasioni:

"Molti ... sentono gli immigrati come un peso, li vedono con sospetto e li considerano addirittura come un  pericolo e una minaccia" (EMCC, 6).

"È necessario ... contrastare sospetti infondati e pregiudizi offensivi verso gli stranieri" (EMCC, 41).

"Le Chiese particolari sono chiamate ad aprirsi ad una migliore accoglienza dei migranti ... aiutando i fedeli a superare pregiudizi e prevenzioni" (EMCC, 100). 

Noi abbiamo sempre notato, con stupore e con sconcerto, che in Italia vengono guardati con sospetto anche i giovani stranieri che chiedono di venire nel nostro paese per studiare.

Questo non succedeva negli anni '60 e fino alla metà degli anni '70. Poi, le cose sono peggiorate. Prima a causa, forse, dei movimenti studenteschi che, in parte, sono degenerati in azioni violente e anche terroristiche. Poi a causa anche del fenomeno del terrorismo internazionale. Più in generale, molti funzionari delle nostre istituzioni pubbliche ritengono che lo studio sia solo un pretesto per tanti giovani dei Paesi in via di sviluppo (Pvs) per fuggire dalla povertà e tentare la fortuna qui in Italia.

La cosa sorprendente, però, è che, in realtà, la società civile in Italia guarda invece con simpatia agli studenti esteri. E le stesse università e il ministro dell'Istruzione vogliono aprirsi agli studenti esteri (e persino il presidente della Repubblica lo ha detto proprio un anno fa, in modo esplicito: "Aprite le porte agli studenti stranieri!").

Non solo in Italia. Le università di tutti i paesi occidentali vogliono internazionalizzarsi sempre di più, vogliono attirare giovani da ogni parte del mondo. Certo, ricercano soprattutto i "cervelli" più brillanti. Certo, ricercano soprattutto i giovani che provengono dai paesi che dimostrano un più forte dinamismo di crescita economica (Cina, India, Corea...). Ma, in linea di massima, il mondo dell'università, in Italia come in tutto l'Occidente, vuole aprirsi ai giovani di tutti i paesi del mondo, ed è consapevole dei benefici che questo comporta per le stesse società occidentali.

Però, purtroppo, gli studenti esteri sono considerati - per la nostra legislazione italiana - semplicemente come immigrati. E tutti gli immigrati, purtroppo, sono considerati, in Italia, soprattutto come un problema di sicurezza: tanto che se ne occupa quasi esclusivamente il Ministero degli Interni, e dunque le Forze dell'Ordine, la Polizia.

Quindi, da una parte, le porte tendono ad aprirsi (30.000 posti vengono offerti ogni anno agli studenti esteri dagli atenei italiani), ma, dall'altra, le porte tendono a chiudersi (ne arrivano di fatto solo 7-8.000 l'anno).

Di fronte alla "cultura del sospetto", bisogna cercare di dimostrare che i giovani dei Pvs che si vogliono iscrivere alle nostre università lo fanno perché vogliono davvero studiare. Certo: vogliono venire qui perché nei loro paesi è più difficile studiare; ci sono meno opportunità; spesso è impossibile farlo anche per ragioni di instabilità politica; e a volte ci sono barriere etniche oltre che economiche. Ma vogliono venire per studiare. E, se a volte si perdono e abbandonano l'università, non è quasi mai perché all'università non ci tenevano, ma è perché hanno trovato troppe difficoltà qui da noi, un'accoglienza troppo misera e mal organizzata, e - appunto - troppi pregiudizi nei loro confronti.

L'Italia - anche per questo pregiudizio persistente - ospita una delle percentuali più basse di studenti esteri fra i paesi dell'Unione Europea a 15. Solo la Grecia ha una percentuale più bassa. Anche se da alcuni anni le cose stanno migliorando: la percentuale degli studenti esteri era l'1,4 nel 1993-94, e solo l'1,5 nel 2001-02, ma poi è salita all'1,8 l'anno successivo fino a un più incoraggiante 2,1% dell'anno 2004-05.

Don Remigio Musaragno, per favorire l'accesso di studenti dei Pvs nelle università italiane ha dato vita, 40 anni fa, all'UCSEI.

L'Ucsei è un Ufficio che agisce sia come agenzia culturale sia come lobby che preme sulle istituzioni per sburocratizzarle e per farle guardare in modo positivo agli studenti esteri.

Dunque: convegni con le istituzioni pubbliche; un giornale fatto soprattutto da studenti esteri; l'iscrizione all'albo delle Ong e quindi percorsi di educazione allo sviluppo e alla mondialità nelle scuole e nella società condotti in prima persona dagli stessi studenti esteri; raccolta delle tesi di laurea degli studenti; un centro di documentazione aperto al pubblico; sussidi economici a studenti in difficoltà; e molta informazione.

Dopo la nascita dell'Ucsei, nel 1970, don Musaragno ha aperto, con l'appoggio della Chiesa, un Centro di Accoglienza, il Centro Giovanni XXIII, che ospita circa 150 studenti, per tutto il periodo dei loro studi.

Il Centro ospita solo studenti dei Pvs, o comunque di paesi non comunitari.

È un Centro non confessionale, dove però viene coltivato il senso della comunità e dove si testimonia in modo discreto la fede cattolica.

È un centro dove vivono ragazzi e ragazze. E dove è possibile il dialogo interculturale.

Al Centro, poi, si favoriscono le "prese in carico" degli studenti che non hanno i mezzi economici per mantenersi. Il nostro è come un ombrello sotto il quale trovano rifugio molti studenti dei Pvs che altrimenti non riuscirebbero a superare le maglie delle iperburocratiche e rigide normative dello Stato italiano.

2) Gli studenti esteri come occasione storica, opportunità provvidenziale.

Se il primo passo è combattere contro i sospetti e i pregiudizi, il secondo passo è far scoprire che la realtà è all’opposto. E cioè che gli studenti esteri sono un'occasione storica, assai preziosa, per la chiesa e anche per la società e per la politica internazionale.

La EMCC usa queste espressioni - "occasione storica", "opportunità provvidenziale" - per il fenomeno generale delle migrazioni, vedendo in esso la sollecitazione verso la costruzione di un'unica famiglia umana (EMCC, 9 e 97).

Noi vorremmo sottolineare come la presenza nei paesi occidentali di studenti dei paesi in via di sviluppo (o comunque di altre regioni e culture) sia - in modo evidente e concreto - una "opportunità storica" non solo per la chiesa (per essere pienamente se stessa), ma per le nostre società occidentali ed anche per le società di provenienza di questi giovani.

La presenza degli studenti esteri - in Italia, in Europa - è una occasione particolarmente efficace per stabilire ponti tra Nord e Sud del mondo; per creare fiducia e comprensione tra culture diverse; per superare diffidenze; per attivare possibilità di dialogo, innanzitutto tra i mondi giovanili e universitari occidentali e i mondi giovanili che nei paesi del Sud e dell'Est accedono alla formazione superiore.

L'UCSEI, già da decenni, considera gli studenti esteri dei Pvs come "soggetti strategici dello sviluppo dei loro paesi". Cioè, abbiamo cercato di dire, in tutti i modi, che, se ci sono tanti giovani dei Pvs che - per libera scelta di specializzazione o anche per le troppe difficoltà a studiare nei propri paesi - vengono a studiare in Europa, questa è una grande opportunità per ridurre la povertà e per promuovere lo sviluppo.

È una opportunità per loro, per avere una buona formazione culturale e scientifica e poter dunque contribuire al progresso dei loro paesi.

Ma è un'opportunità anche per noi, per poter offrire una percezione positiva dei nostri paesi a questi giovani che domani, lavorando allo sviluppo dei loro paesi, forse potranno cercare in noi un partner, anche economico, con cui lavorare allo sviluppo. 

3) Gli studenti hanno bisogno di "gesti" che facciano sentire loro di essere accolti.

"Il migrante - dice EMCC, n. 96 - è assetato di gesti che lo facciano sentire accolto, riconosciuto e valorizzato come persona".

Per gli studenti esteri dei Pvs, il punto cruciale - in questo bisogno di riconoscimento - è proprio il fatto di essere accolti e valorizzati come persone che portano in sé qualcosa di prezioso. Questo qualcosa di prezioso è la loro voglia di studiare, di emanciparsi, di contare di più nella vita, di tornare a casa con la capacità di portare benessere alla propria famiglia e alla propria gente.

Sono persone, inoltre, che in qualche modo rappresentano una cultura, un popolo o talvolta una minoranza etnica; persone la cui sete di riconoscimento non è solo personale ma è sentita dalle loro stesse comunità.

Sono persone, infine, che vengono a ricordarci che c'è stata una storia coloniale, che ha seminato lutti e nefandezze nelle loro società, ma ha anche stabilito un contatto, creato un rapporto, suscitato delle aspettative e generato una corresponsabilità.

Questo bisogno di riconoscimento e di valorizzazione va colto in tutto il suo spessore.

Sta qui anche il significato di EMCC, 96, là dove dice che i cristiani (sacerdoti, laici, comunità) devono educare all'apertura verso gli stranieri e a "scoprire i semina verbi insiti nelle diverse culture e religioni"; e anche che devono "apprezzare i valori autenticamente umani degli altri" (EMCC, 39), e riconoscere "tutto il tesoro di una ricca diversità umana" (EMCC, 102).

Sta qui, anche, il significato dell’“etica dell'incontro” di cui si parla nelle stesse righe (EMCC, 102).

Impegnarsi per riconoscere i valori di queste persone, le loro aspettative, il loro apporto di conoscenza e di volontà di cambiamento, è una strada che è ancora da percorrere: tanto sul piano spirituale ed ecclesiale, quanto sul piano civile. Sul piano civile significa sul piano:

- della valorizzazione dei percorsi di studio,

- dell'estensione dei servizi del diritto allo studio,

- della tutela della dignità nei rapporti con la burocrazia e con le istituzioni,

- del miglioramento delle normative, perché siano più rispettose e più orientate a "facilitare" il  cammino e non invece a ostacolarlo,

- dell'individuazione in loro di soggetti con cui poter progettare forme di collaborazione con i paesi e le comunità di provenienza.

Questo orientamento ad adoperarsi, in concreto, affinché i diritti dei migranti - e dunque degli studenti esteri - "siano riconosciuti e tutelati dalle Autorità civili" è ricordato espressamente all'art. 2 dell'Ordinamento giuridico-pastorale che fa seguito all’EMCC.

E questa è stata anche l'esperienza dell'UCSEI, che ha contribuito a far legiferare l'estensione del diritto allo studio anche agli studenti esteri; che si è battuta perché si creasse un "tavolo di coordinamento" tra i vari ministeri per rendere meno frammentarie le normative nei confronti degli studenti esteri; che chiede che aumentino le borse di studio per gli studenti esteri (oggi, quelle del Ministero degli Esteri sono molto poche: solo 400 l'anno) e che si faccia una seria politica degli alloggi (oggi un letto, a Roma, costa 400 euro, e un miniappartamento - per altro introvabile, almeno a Roma - costa non meno di 700 euro)

4) Gli studenti esteri vanno coinvolti nelle strutture della comunità ecclesiale cosi come nelle strategie e nei progetti della cooperazione allo sviluppo.

Il coinvolgimento dei migranti è un altro punto cruciale. L'ultimo che vogliamo qui richiamare. E' un modo importante di concretizzare l'accoglienza.

C'è bisogno di coinvolgimento e di condivisione.

Sono aspetti richiamati nella EMCC. "I cristiani - si dice al n. 9 - sono chiamati a testimoniare e a praticare, oltre allo spirito di tolleranza ..., il rispetto dell'altrui identità ...., avviando... percorsi di condivisione con persone di origine e cultura differenti".

E, al n. 43, si dice che "le associazioni religiose, socio-caritative e culturali di ispirazione cristiana dovranno badare a coinvolgere gli immigrati nelle loro stesse strutture".

Per gli studenti esteri questo significa, ad esempio, che le Ong di ispirazione cristiana dovrebbero aprirsi assai di più di quanto non facciano alla collaborazione con questi giovani dei Pvs, riconoscendo in loro un partner privilegiato per progettare interventi di aiuto nei loro paesi di origine.

Ma non solo le Ong. Anche le università nei loro rapporti di cooperazione con le università dei Pvs. E anche le stesse comunità parrocchiali e le strutture diocesane, per dare gambe a quelle "parrocchie interculturali" di cui si parla in EMCC, 93.

Nell'esperienza dell'UCSEI abbiamo visto quanto sia difficile, in concreto, che una Ong apra le porte ad uno studente dei Pvs. E anche quanto sia difficile che il Ministero dell'Università metta in piedi una struttura, aperta agli studenti esteri, che elabori regole di accesso più sensate e più rispondenti alle reali esigenze di questi studenti. O che lo faccia una singola Università.

E forse è anche difficile che un Consiglio pastorale parrocchiale sia sollecito nel coinvolgere al suo interno un giovane studente dei Pvs.

Abbiamo, invece, bisogno di sperimentare - ovunque sia possibile - strutture aperte, di condivisione e di coinvolgimento, ove il dialogo e il fare insieme siano un'esperienza quotidiana.

Qui, concludendo, vorremmo insistere su un solo punto che riguarda il coinvolgimento. E che, insieme, riguarda il tema del "ritorno". Il ritorno (libero, volontario) degli studenti esteri in Patria. Un ritorno, si, libero, ma anche valido, valorizzante. Che risponda alle attese.

Nella EMCC - ricordiamo - si parla di studenti esteri proprio in connessione con il tema del "ritorno" dei migranti nei loro paesi di origine.

Il punto è questo: si tratta di occuparci seriamente di come sostenere percorsi di rientro degli studenti esteri. Ovviamente, coinvolgendoli!

Si dice, giustamente (in EMCC, 8), che il fenomeno migratorio "solleva una vera e propria questione etica", la questione di un "nuovo ordine economico internazionale" e di una più equa distribuzione dei beni della terra, e che, dunque, è necessario "un impegno più incisivo per realizzare sistemi educativi e pastorali", che formino "a una nuova visione della comunità mondiale, considerata come famiglia di popoli".

Ora, una via privilegiata per attuare questo impegno di giustizia internazionale è quella di valorizzare i migranti come attori di co-sviluppo.

Co-sviluppo significa reciprocità dello sviluppo. Si tratta, dunque, di sperimentare il protagonismo dei migranti, in specie i migranti con alta formazione e con buone competenze, in percorsi di sviluppo che interessino contemporaneamente il paese di origine e il paese di destinazione.

In questo senso, crediamo che ci sia un futuro per l'idea che ha guidato l'Ucsei fin dalle sue origini, negli anni '60: quella di scommettere sugli studenti esteri come soggetti strategici dello sviluppo dei loro paesi.

Lo crediamo non solo perché oggi torna a farsi sentire, nei paesi occidentali, dopo tanti fallimenti, l'esigenza di fare più e meglio nel campo della cooperazione internazionale e nel campo dell'equità delle relazioni commerciali tra Nord e Sud.

E gli studenti dei Pvs possono davvero essere un soggetto importante per il rinnovamento della cooperazione.

Ma anche perché oggi più di ieri si capisce che è nella collaborazione con il Sud e l'Est (anche con i paesi oggi meno avanzati) che il Nord costruisce la pace, promuove la tutela dell'ambiente, garantisce le condizioni per il suo stesso sviluppo economico.

E gli studenti esteri hanno la possibilità di essere soggetti di sviluppo anche rispetto ai paesi che li hanno ospitati durante gli studi. Lo possono essere perché portano nel loro paese di origine la conoscenza del paese che li ha ospitati; creano, dunque, un ponte; consentono un atteggiamento di fiducia reciproca; conoscono le due lingue, le due culture, i due sistemi sociali, giuridici, economici.

Gli studenti esteri possono, insomma, davvero essere protagonisti di co-sviluppo.

Il punto è che i paesi occidentali si orientino a riconoscere questa potenzialità, vi scommettano... e la sperimentino.

La chiesa ha fatto molta strada nella cooperazione tra le chiese. Ha acquisito esperienza in questo campo. E si sta impegnando a valorizzare i migranti nelle sue strutture ecclesiali, per arricchirle in senso interculturale.

Noi crediamo che oggi le comunità ecclesiali e le associazioni laicali abbiano davanti a sé, contemporaneamente, un altro e simile terreno di impegno: quello di fare la loro parte affinché gli studenti esteri siano valorizzati dalle società civili e dalle istituzioni pubbliche, per aprire finalmente una stagione nuova della cooperazione tra i popoli del Nord e del Sud, dell'Est e dell'Ovest.

Non c'è solo il problema di ottenere, come l'UCSEI sta da anni cercando di fare in Italia, che vi sia una legge di cooperazione allo sviluppo che consenta anche agli immigrati di partire come volontari e cooperanti nell'ambito dei progetti di cooperazione.

Si tratta anche di investire tempo, attenzione, risorse - da parte delle istituzioni pubbliche (centrali e locali) - sul tema del "ritorno" dei migranti:

- un ritorno che potrà essere definitivo, o temporaneo, o anche solo virtuale (grazie alle tecnologie informatiche);

- un ritorno personale degli studenti, una volta laureati o specializzati, o anche un ritorno tramite risorse destinate alle comunità di origine: risorse che questi giovani, una volta inseriti nei nostri paesi, possono generare sia con le "rimesse" del loro lavoro, sia con idee imprenditoriali sia con forme di collaborazione professionale in vari campi. Sempre che, però, essi siano sostenuti e valorizzati all'interno delle nostre società: ad esempio, coinvolgendoli in forme di cooperazione internazionale tra università, tra scuole, tra ospedali, tra amministrazioni, tra imprese, tra comunità territoriali.

Si è parlato per tanto tempo di "fuga di cervelli". È un fenomeno complesso. Molto spesso dannoso, ma a volte anche positivo (alla lunga). E forse inevitabile.

Ma le società occidentali possono impegnarsi a limitarne i danni e a cercare di suscitare circoli virtuosi.

Da un lato, possono evitare che la fuga dei cervelli diventi anche spreco dei cervelli, lasciando che quei giovani finiscano a fare i lavapiatti in Occidente pur avendo una laurea.

Dall'altro lato, possono sostenere i rientri, attraverso le iniziative di una cooperazione viva, vitale, che impegni davvero - arricchendole - le nostre comunità civili.

La pastorale dei migranti, e in particolare degli studenti esteri, potrà essere - in questo senso - una pastorale che riconosce e rafforza nei migranti la loro potenzialità di essere risorsa non solo per la comunione ecclesiale e per il dialogo ecumenico, interreligíoso, interculturale, ma anche per lo sviluppo dei loro paesi; o, meglio, per il co-sviluppo: cioè, lo sviluppo reciproco.

* * * * * * *

Rev. Ben Engelbertink, mhm

Chaplain International Students, The Netherlands



The foundation for the present ISP (International Students Pastor) has been laid about 30 years ago by a missionary, returning from Indonesia. He saw to it that the Indonesian students could come together for a Sunday Mass and he catered also for their spiritual needs in general, thus starting the formation of a Christian community of international students, away from hone.

A few years later another missionary took over his work and continued along the same lines, but extending the work to students of different nationalities, not only Indonesian. The work of I.S.P. then became imbedded in the organization of Cura Migratorum.

Soon another change was made by finding co-operation with other Christian churches, especially in the diaconal field, because quite a number of students found themselves in financial problems, due to the increasing costs in The Netherlands and the devaluation of currencies in their own countries.

Co-operation with other Christian churches also resulted in stimulating the ecumenical dialogue in the field of pastoral work in general. It was noticed that the international students were very keen in getting to know each other and to deepen their faith by having occasions for ecumenical dialogue. It was something they were not used to at home.

Annual trips to Taizé became customary and resulted also in a change of the choice of hymns, so that gradually a stronger Christian community of international students emerged, co­operating also in further activities, like bible-studies, intercultural meetings of students in general and of late, after the 11th of September, also resulting in interfaith dialogue groups. Next to these activities there are programs on AIDS, women-issues, ecology, ethics and even dot-painting, which is a therapeutic activity.

The chaplains at present are continuing in the footsteps of their predecessors, as they too are from the missionary tradition, placing priority on the ecumenical and interfaith dialogue.

It is also very important or perhaps even imperative that the agents of the chaplaincy have a strong affinity with the culture, customs, countries of the international students and are able to bring together the Christian traditions and practices of their faith.

In this endeavor they are helped by representatives of these students as members of the committees which stimulate such activities.

Another big help is email, on which I spend at least one hour and a half per day.         

The internationalization of Higher Education since the end of the nineties has brought about a near impossible burden on the work of the chaplaincy. The annual intake of international students increased from 3000 to 7000, totaling to 32000 international students in The Netherlands.        

Whilst in the olden days the chaplaincy could limit itself to a few institutes of Higher Education where a good number of international students was present, only in a few towns, nowadays the chaplains really should be present in all universities throughout the country because everywhere international students are to be found.

The imbedding of the chaplaincy has changed from Cura Migratorum to the local diocese since the 1st of January 2005, but it is now already the opinion of ISP’s committee that the imbedding of ISP actually should be the Bishops’ Conference of The Netherlands. It also may be a financial question to decide whether the chaplaincy belongs to a diocese or to the bishops’ conference.

The need for ISP is higher than ever, because the language of their studies is English.

They do not learn Dutch like in the olden days, so that these students now find it very difficult to go to a Dutch speaking church.

There is no hope that the two chaplains will receive help in the form of an additional chaplain. A new form of pastoral work has to be found both on account of the internationalization and on account of the reduction in the number of priests in The Netherlands.

The appointment of a pastoral agent for a limited period of time has now financially become possible through the help of some funding agencies. It is an ecumenical project, funded by all churches.

His task is to establish pastoral committees or associations in all universities throughout The Netherlands within 18 months. In this way a network should be established by which the chaplains can have good contacts with all universities and by which the students themselves are involved in the welfare of the international students, so much so that they also can organize prayer-meetings in the absence of ordained ministers.

In their own way these committees can as it were duplicate the present activities of ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and also of the other general activities in their own surroundings without the presence of the chaplains.

However, the future of the chaplaincy for international students in The Netherlands is by no means clear at all. A number of chaplaincies for Dutch students have been closed down already, mainly because of the lack of financial means. The same may happen to the chaplaincy for the international students, although there is only one full time priest and one part-time priest working in this field.

Within one year after the transition from the Cura Migratorum to the Dioceses, one diocese is already asking itself whether this transition was a wise move. It looks by all standards that the chaplaincy for the international students is a chaplaincy which should belong to the Dutch church province, not to an individual diocese.

The Congress for International Students might well look into the position of the chaplaincies for international students. There might be a common element of shortage of priests in some areas and shortage of financial means in general, which asks for a very close and world-wide co-operation.

The identity of the chaplaincy in general, thus including also the identity of the new pastoral committees, is also missionary, not only in the sense of evangelization but also in the missionary choices which have to be made.

It also should be mentioned that some international students can contribute a very good sense of catholicity to their fellow students and to the host-country.

It means that special attention is given to students who have lost contact with the church and to the poor and weak student, to the ones who might become victims of the systems which give preference to students who are more profitable for the economic market.

Furthermore, the chaplains together with the students should have a special eye for the needs of the poor students and should, wherever possible, also foster the allocation of scholarships to students from Africa, which also in the educational field might become a forgotten continent.

* * * * * * *


Dr. Michael GALLIGAN-Stierle, Ph.D.

C.H. Education and Campus Ministry



Welcome and Solidarity for International Students in the US

It is our desire to create an “authentic culture of welcome”. We desire to “welcome one another as Christ welcomed us...” (Romans 15,7). In the US we prefer not to use the word “foreign” but rather “international” student, not “chaplain” but rather “campus or university minister”.

The US has 16.5 million students at over 5,000 schools. Five million of these students are Catholics, while of the 5,000 schools 250 are catholic. Although it seems that fewer international students are coming to the US since 9/11 (September the 11th), nevertheless in  the last six years over 500,000 international students have come here to study. It is estimated that of the 5 million catholic students in the US, 100,000, that is 2%, are international. The largest number of international students is from Asia, the largest catholic group is from Latin America.

In addition to international students, the US has well over 100,000 international scholars. This should give all of us a wider world view of those to whom we extend our pastoral care: students and scholars.

For all students coming to the US as well as all catholic students in the country, the US bishops in 1985 approved a pastoral plan titled “Empowered by the Spirit: Campus Ministry Faces the Future”. This pastoral letter lays out the following principles:

  • The ministry’s field of activity is first and foremost higher education.
  • All the baptised – priests, religious and lay persons – are called to be pastoral workers on the campus, and their pastoral work has 6 goals:

1) To create the Christian community,

2) To propagate the Catholic faith,

3) To form the Christian conscience,

4) To educate for justice,

5) To facilitate personal development,

6) To train leaders for the future.

This pastoral plan holds for all students in the US.

Four national organisations (NCSC, AJCUCCMD, CCMA and NADDCM) work independently but in close collaboration with the USCCB to train and qualify campus ministers and student peer leaders.

This plan of pastoral care is extended to all students and, what is most important, to international students.

Working closely with the International Student Office, which sometimes has a campus minister assigned to liaise with them, all pastoral care workers must have a strong sense of welcome and hospitality.

Other primary pastoral concerns include helping international students to find a just balance between immersion in a new culture and maintaining their ties with their own culture; helping combat “culture clashes” caused by insensitivity to cultural differences; and confronting religious differences, especially in ritual and liturgical practices.

Again collaborating across departmental lines will help face these issues. Encouraging international students to participate fully in planning and implementing cultural exchanges, campus worship, and social events can also help face these important issues. Dialogue with the students themselves is essential. Listening attentively to their own perception of their needs, desires and concerns is vital.

All campus ministers realise that every student (especially an international student) is to be engaged in the creation of an “authentic cultural welcome”, so that all God’s people are welcomed as Christ welcomes us.

Note: The USCCB pastoral letter on the campus ministry can be found on the USCCB.ORG.

Care of Latin American Students in the USA

Of the half a million international students in the US, 40,000 come from Latin America. For the US it is not simply a question of international students, a more important matter is the large number of first generation Hispanic students (documented and undocumented). This is the largest growing language group seeking higher education in the United States. For us in the US there are two categories of Hispanic students: the “have’s” and the “have not’s”.

While many of you in the European Union might be challenged by the many students coming to your schools from Africa as a result of your missionary activity, we in the US are challenged by these Hispanic students because of South and Central American outreach.

On the one hand students from wealthy families are openly welcome in the US because of the dollars they bring. Most of these students are interested in learning and acquiring American culture in both its positive and negative aspects. On the other hand the international student with financial difficulties, even though he may be receiving a scholarship, either is eventually estranged from his home country or is subjected to pressure not to complete his studies.

As far as all students are concerned, the person responsible for pastoral care is faced with the challenge of creating an “authentic culture of wisdom”.

  1. On the diocesan and national level there is a Hispanic Office. Recently a national initiative was started to bring people together, both adults and youth.
  2. On local, diocesan and campus level Mass is offered in Spanish. This is very important for these students, more so than for other language groups.
  3. Many dioceses and campuses have hired Hispanic lay church workers and wherever possible priests.
  4. Social activities are essential.
  5. Celebrations of popular piety, e.g. Mass of our Lady of Guadalupe, are very important.
  6. Finally, some religious orders are seriously considering the creation of new catholic colleges in the southern states of the US.