#IBelong – Towards a sense of belonging in an inclusive learning environment is a Strategic Partnership for Higher Education. It focuses on improving the experiences and outcomes of students from diverse backgrounds (in particular migrant students and first generation entrants) through creating a more inclusive learning environment in higher education.
Higher education institutions have not yet succeeded in offering equitable opportunities and outcomes for the diverse student
population participating in higher education. This prevents the talents of students from flourishing, as can be seen in the performance gap between diverse groups of students in higher education across Europe.
I Belong approach builds on the student experience, their academic self-confidence thus ontributing to more equitable outcomes.
The main objective of the #IBelong Strategic Partnership is to build a programme of interventions to develop a real sense of belonging amongst higher education students irrespective of their diversity, thereby increasing student retention and promoting a fair chance of succeeding. With this objective this Strategic Partnership project fully addresses the renewed agenda for higher education.
Higher education must play its part in facing up to Europe’s social and democratic challenges. This means ensuring that higher education is inclusive, open to talent from all backgrounds, and that higher education institutions are not ivory towers, but civic-minded learning communities connected to their communities. EU agenda for higher education (May 30, 2017)
Making higher education systems inclusive also requires the right conditions for students of different backgrounds to succeed. This
goes beyond the question of financial support for disadvantaged groups, although this is vital for those from low-income
backgrounds. To promote successful completion of studies, higher education providers should take a holistic look at how teaching
and assessment are organised, put measures in place to mentor students and provide academic and non-academic support. HEI
campuses should be safe places for all students, free from gender-based violence and discrimination. Early detection of problems is
crucial for identifying the support that students need. Flexible study options (part-time or online) and more widespread recognition
of prior learning are also required to make higher education more accessible, particularly for adult learners. Strategies to help
disadvantaged students to access and go on to complete higher education are a promising way to achieve these objectives.
With #IBelong interventions we will offer more inclusive learning environments. An inclusive learning environment proactively and systematically anticipates to a diverse range of learners, rather than responding on an ad hoc and individual basis to differences as they are revealed by learners.