Founded in 2015, Welcome.TU.code offers refugees an opportunity to further their education and find prospects for their future lives.
In 2014, 2,260 young people without parents or other carers fled to Austria. In Vienna alone, several hundred refugees under 18 were awaiting further decisions about their future. In the meantime, their hands were tied: Schools were basically open to them, but school attendance often failed because of language problems or a lack of previous education. A team of students and lecturers from our faculty felt the need to help those individuals, and eventually founded welcome.TU.code.
Since 2015, we offer free courses in informatics to unaccompanied adolescent refugees. The three-leveled course program introduces participants to computer science subjects at a beginner, intermediate or advanced level, according to their previous knowledge. The courses are led by students who are supported by two tutors and a supervisor. While the students make important human and didactic experiences as they share their enthusiasm for technology, the participants benefit particularly from their commitment and the good support ratio in an intimate atmosphere (each student engages with a maximum of three participants).
In 2019, Informatics Europe and Microsoft presented the project with their Best Practices in Education Award. In 2020, due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, welcome.TU.code transfered its activities online, and collaborated with TU Wien’s More 2.0 program, an initiative to support, develop and integrate distance learning programs.
Since 2021, welcome.TU.code collaborates with WUK WORK.SPACE developing & running IT workshops for young users with different backgrounds to foster involvement with informatics in their careers. Since 2022, Sprungbrett has also become a partner, offering IT workshops for girls. From February 2023 onwards, welcome.TU.code successfully runs IT courses for Ukrainian refugees.
Welcome.TU.code courses and workshops are led by students who are supported by tutors and supervisors. The students make important human and didactic experiences as they share their enthusiasm for technology while the participants benefit particularly from their commitment and the good support ratio in a intimate atmosphere (each student engages with a maximum of three participants). There are different formats and tracks, for beginners who have never or rarely operated a computer and want to gain basic knowledge as well as intermediate and advanced tracks for coding in different topics. We also teach basic concepts of computer science – from algorithms to security and privacy.
In 2016, we collaborated with Teach for Austria on programming courses for adolescent asylum seekers. Building on our experience, we went into cooperation with the office of Dr. Ing. Christian Konrad, the then-refugee coordinator on behalf of the Federal Government, and offered support in the implementation of the Refugee Mentoring Program . As part of this program students of informatics supervised a computer station where the computer skills of asylum seekers who applied for the mentoring program were tested.
Together with other faculties of TU Wien we participated in the initiative “Refugees welcome @ TU Wien”: For the project “Routes? Roots!”, we collaborated with the Faculty of Architecture and Spatial Planning in the creation of a help and guidance website for asylum seekers. The project subsequently joined the “new here” initiative, which is pursuing a similar goal. The jointly developed website was finally presented on World Refugee Day 2017. Essential parts of the software were created by our participating students.
Fonds Soziales Wien has been an ongoing partner, supporting us with a network and expertise up until this day.