Founded in 2015, Welcome.TU.code offers young asylum seekers 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.
Up to 70 participants can register for one of six groups, which meet twice per week for 90 minutes sessions in our computer laboratories. The courses are led by students who are supported by two tutors and a supervisor. 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).
- Beginner Track: The beginner track is for those participants who have never or rarely operated a computer and want to gain basic knowledge. Here, basics in the areas of hardware (keyboard, ports, USB sticks), operating system (what is that anyway?) and Internet (How does that work?) are explained, and participants receive a brief introduction to word processing and computer security.
- Intermediate Track: The intermediate track is for those who can basically use a computer and want to expand their knowledge in the areas of word processing, spreadsheets, Internet and operating systems.
- Advanced Track: The advanced track is the “professional version” for those who want to gain an insight into computer science. The aim of this track is to introduce the participants to various programming languages such as Python and Java.
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.