Vrije Universiteit Brussel

About Vrije Universiteit Brussel

The Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) offers a quality education to more than 9000 students on two campuses spread over Brussels (Belgium). One of the Departments of the VUB is the Department of Educational Sciences that offers three educational programmes: Bachelor/ Master in Science of Adult Education, Master in Science of Education and International Master of Educational Sciences.

Research within the Department of Educational Sciences comprises three focal research areas: ‘Innovative change in educational contexts’, ‘Community development’ and ‘Cultural education’. Within these focal areas, several research projects emphasise learning environments combining and integrating formal, non-formal and informal learning. Specific attention goes to the analysis of levers for change situated on micro, meso and macro level in order to adjust these learning environments to the needs of specific groups, such as prisoners. Moreover, most projects address research on enhancing structural social changes fully considering the needs of socially excluded groups in our society.

One of the research programmes within the Department of Educational Sciences focuses on participation of prisoners in formal, informal and non-formal learning activities (e.g., educational courses, library, prisoner councils, sport activities, vocational training). The involvement of the VUB with the FORINER-project fits within this research line.

Besides, the Department of Educational Sciences has been involved in various European projects: e.g., SMARTE (Strengths for Mastering Ageing by Realising Tools in Europe), WeDO and WeDO2 (EU learning partnerships for the Wellbeing and Dignity of Older people), and GUTS (Generations Using Training for Social Inclusion in 2020).

Involvement with Foriner

The role of the VUB concerns coordinating the desk research (WP1) and the evaluation of the pilot projects (WP6). In cooperation with the other partners, the VUB is responsible to map and analyse the existing educational initiatives for European foreign national prisoners detained in a foreign European country and the existing research and projects about this topic. The VUB will develop a desk research that consists of three parts:

  • A literature review that provides more insight into the profile of European foreign national prisoners in Europe, the difficulties they experience, and their participation in educational programmes.
  • The results of an online survey that aims to get more information about the educational offer for European foreign national prisoners and the availability of ICT-facilities within the prisons. Respondents are prison managers and educational providers.
  • Based on the online survey, five best practices across Europe are selected and investigated more in-depth. Through interviews, we examine how they organise education for European foreign national prisoners and/or ICT, the impact, and process when developing these practices.

In a later phase of the project, the VUB is responsible for the empirical evaluation of the pilot projects. Attention will be paid to the effects that these pilot projects have, how satisfied the participants are and how these projects are developed (e.g., success factors, barriers, cooperation with other institutions). Besides, the VUB actively contributes to the other work packages (e.g., building a network within Europe, the future search event, dissemination, formulating policy advice).