Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research (CHEER)
University of Sussex, UK
Thinking Differently about The Roma in Higher Education: Beyond Sex, Slums and Special Schools, and Towards Epistemic Inclusion!
How does one begin to write or speak about the Roma in higher education without degenerating into racially objectifying discourses, hyperbole and sensationalism about material, economic, social and affective disadvantage and deprivation? The default position for the social construction of Roma communities is a problematic precarity. The story of the Roma is one of spatial segregation, symbolic and actual ghettoisation, and the racialisation of poverty and social exclusion. Whereas there have been some affirmative action programmes in some countries, including Romania, there has been scant policy attention or theorisation about how Roma ethnicity interacts with opportunity structures in higher education. Only one per cent of Roma enter higher education in Europe – approximately 10,000 students. Higher education can seem like a luxury product when one in ten Roma had completed secondary school in the twelve countries in the Roma Decade policy initiative by the end of 2015. Hence, much of the research and policy attention has been on the challenges of encouraging and keeping Roma in school-sector education in diverse national locations and the segregation of Roma in special schools, or in separate classes. A key question is how can these communities be included in epistemic justice?
This presentation will discuss findings from the Higher Education Internationalisation and Mobility (HEIM) project (http://www.sussex.ac.uk/education/cheer/researchprojects/rise). The Project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement number: 643739. This has involved three European universities (Seville, Sussex, and Umea) working with the Roma Education Fund, Budapest, to investigate the issue of the Roma in Higher Education, with particular attention paid to internationalisation, and to provide new knowledge and resources.
 Rom is the singular noun, Roma is plural and Romani is the adjective. The term Roma encompasses diverse groups, including Roma, Gypsies, Travellers, Manouches, Ashkali, Sinti and Boyash.