The European University of Cities in Post-Industrial Transition (UNIC)

Principal Investigators: Ahmet İçduygu

Researcher: Birce Demiryontar, Birce Altıok, Ceren Kulkul, Esin Aksezer, Souad Osseiran

Funder: ERASMUS+ European Universities Programme

Duration: 1 Oct 2023-30 Nov 2029

Project Budget: 15.7 million Euro

UNIC is an alliance of ten universities educating through teaching, research and community engagement, towards inclusive societies.

The UNIC Alliance has secured continued funding in the 2023 Erasmus+ European Universities Call, enabling the implementation of its expanded, ambitious new Mission Statement over the next four years. The European University of Cities in Post-Industrial Transition – expanded to ten universities from the founding eight – will deepen its commitments and values, continuing a journey started after a successful 2020 Erasmus+ grant designed to foster the quality, inclusiveness and competitiveness of European higher education and a H2020 SwafS grant towards collaborative approach and structure for Engaged Research.

Since then, UNIC has built a rich diversity of activities and new offerings for students, researchers, staff, and citizens across Europe. It has enabled enhanced mobility through hybrid campuses and course offerings, started a joint MSc programme on “Redesigning the Post-Industrial City”, and offered an Engaged Research seed fund for collaborative research projects. It has created communities of practice and made available an open case repository through flagship “CityLabs”, which create opportunities for knowledge exchange between universities and the cities they’re embedded in.

UNIC’s new phase, with 14.4 million € in funding, began in October 2023.


UNIC Twitter,

UNIC Facebook,

UNIC LinkedIN,

UNIC Instagram,

UNIC Youtube,

UNIC Newsletters

Partners: The project is being coordinated by Erasmus University Rotterdam (Rotterdam, NL). Other members of the Consortium are Koç University (İstanbul, TUR); Ruhr University of Bochum (RUB, GER); University College Cork (Cork, IRL); University of Deusto (Bilbao, ESP); University of Liège (BEL); University of Oulu (FIN); University of Zagreb (Zagreb, CRO); Malmö University (Malmö Sweden); University of Lodz (Lodz, Poland).

Bridging the Migration and Urban Studies Nexus (BROAD-ER)

Principal Investigator: Ahmet İçduygu (Coordinator)

Partner Instutions and PIs: Jan C. Rath from Universiteit Van Amsterdam (Amsterdam, NL), and Ricard Zapata Barrero from Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, ESP)

Researchers: Birce Altıok, Ceren Kulkul, Diletta Marcucci, Gülşen Doğan, Hacer Gören, Norma Schemschat, Pelin Kılınçarslan, Rafik Arfaoui

Funder: European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation under agreement No. 101079254

Duration: 1 Nov 2022-31 Oct 2025

Project Budget: ~1.4 million Euro

BROAD-ER is a research network project aiming to enhance the scientific, technological and development-driven management capacities of Koc University (KU), Migration Research Center at Koç University (MiReKoc) in Istanbul, Turkey, by linking it with two internationally leading research institutions in the themes of migration and urban studies. Through the twinning network that will be developed with the advanced institutions of The University of Amsterdam (UvA), The Netherlands and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF), Spain, KU aims to improve its attractiveness as a leading research destination for top-class researchers. Moreover, it aspires to become an important regional Centre of Excellence for South-Eastern Europe, that will connect ERA countries, while realizing the relevant regional, national, and European priorities. BROAD-ER is ideally suited to fill the below mentioned gaps by bringing together leading experts in the field of migration and urban studies, leveraging European best practices, and implementing the necessary institutional changes towards KU’s full participation in the ERA priorities.


Twitter: @broad_er

Partners: Universiteit Van Amsterdam (Amsterdam, NL) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona, ESP)

Finding Agreement in Return (FAiR)

Principal Investigator: Ahmet İçduygu (Coordinator)

Researchers: Birce Altıok, Birce Demiryontar

Funder: European Union’s Horizon Europe

Project Budget: 3.0 million Euro

Duration: 1 May 2023-31 Oct 2026

FAiR project aims to generate new insights into the factors and processes that foster or impede the legitimacy and effectiveness of Europe’s intergovernmental return and alternatives to return policies. FAiR will contribute to improve the measurement of return policies and enforced return outcomes and will enrich the analysis on the drivers of enforced return.

Along with Koç University (MiReKoc), the project consortium consists of Erasmus University Rotterdam, Institute of Legal Sciences of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Migration Policy Group, University for Continuing Education Krems, University of Milan, University of Geneva, Foundation for Access to Rights, Samuel Hall East Africa Limited, International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants.



Partners: The project is being coordinated by Erasmus University Rotterdam (Rotterdam, NL). Other members are Koç University (Istanbul, TUR); Instytut Nauk Prawnych Polskiej Akademii Nauk (Warsaw, PL); Migration Policy Group (Brussel, BE); Universitat Fur Weiterbildung Krems (Krems, AT); Universita Degli Studi Di Milano (Milan, IT); Foundation for Access to Rights (Sofia, BG); Samuel Hall East Africa Limited (Nairobi, KE); International Center for Migration Policy Development (Wien, AT); Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants ASBL (Brussel, BE)

Do Immigrants in Europe Aging Well? Mixed Methods and Intervention Study in Four Countries (MIG-AGE)

Principal Investigator: Ahmet İçduygu (Coordinator)

Researchers: Banu Liman, Karina Goulordava, Mert Türkmen

Funder: The Volkswagen Foundation

Project Budget: 1.19 million Euro

The project “MIG-AGE (Do Immigrants in Europe Aging Well? Mixed Methods and Intervention Study in Four Countries)” supported by The Volkswagen Foundation, addresses the question of what it means for different groups of migrants in Europe to be old and age well, specifically for first-generation retired labor migrants from Italy and Turkey living in Germany and the Netherlands and for retired migrants from Germany and the Netherlands living in Italy and Turkey. By considering these diverse groups of migrants, the project aims to investigate the relationship between individual well-being and personal networks, and the subjective meanings of aging and aging well among older migrants across Europe, with an expected outcome of an in-depth understanding and comparative perspective of migrants aging well. The main expected outcome of the project is an in-depth understanding and a comparative perspective of the macro-level socio-structural determinants of aging well of migrants, the micro-level meanings, and the associated inequalities in Europe.


Twitter: @mig_age

Partners: University of Bamberg, Germany; University of Groningen, the Netherlands; University of Genoa, Italy

Foreign Students in Turkish Higher Education Space: Interrelations of Structures, Institutions and Actors in Policy-Making Processes

Principal Investigators: Birce Demiryontar

Project Researchers: Birce Altıok, Souad Osseiran

Researchers: Aybike Kerpişçi, Doğa Dilbilmez

Funder: TÜBİTAK 1001

Project Budget: 420.305,00 -TL

Duration: 15 April 2022-15 April 2024

Internationalization in higher education (HE) and government policies towards foreign students in Turkey, have been developed with an international relations perspective and as part of Turkey’s efforts as a regional actor. These policies have focused on increasing students’ numbers rather than creating the necessary institutional infrastructures to accommodate the diversity of foreign students or be inclusive of students of migrant background. This research argues that the current policy-making processes of Turkish higher education institutions (HEIs) are insufficient to sustainably support foreign student diversity despite the pressure HEIs face to attract them. This research will examine the intersection of the quantitative pressure to include foreign students and the qualitative experiences of foreign students as manifest in institutional policies and practices. It examines HEIs’ policy making processes for foreign students, through concepts such as diversity, belonging, inclusiveness and evaluating forms of social capital and institutional habitus. Using an ‘institutional habitus’ theoretical framework, this research analyzes HEIs as an interconnected space, to explore policy-making processes for foreign students and compare variation across institutions. The approach explores the influence of foreign students on the Turkish HE space and HEIs’ mechanism to adapt to diversity.

The European University of Post-Industrial Cities for Engaged Research (UNIC4ER)

Principal Investigators: Ahmet İçduygu

Researchers: Nilay Kavur, Banu Liman

Funder: H2020 (ERASMUS+ European Universities Programme –complementary to UNIC) (Duration: 36 months, since September 2021)

Duration: 1 September 2021-31 August 2024

Project Budget: 1.9 million Euro

The European University of Post-Industrial Cities (UNIC) is an alliance of eight universities and cities, which aims to develop a new model of European inter‐ institutional teaching and research infrastructure built upon interrogating and addressing the issues facing post‐industrial cities, particularly issues of inclusion and diversity. UNIC has a distinct focus on engaged research (UNIC4ER), which builds upon our strategic advantage as an alliance of research‐intensive universities and City partners with experience in issues of post‐industrial transitions and collaboration with society. Engaged Research is an umbrella term for a wide range of rigorous research approaches and methodologies that share a common interest in collaborative engagement with society. Engaged Research aims to improve, understand, or investigate an issue of public interest or concern, including societal challenges where community partners are or can be potentially active collaborative participants in the research process.  In this context, community partners refer to a range of public research stakeholders, including public or professional service and product users, policy makers, civil and civic society organisations (CSOs) and actors. Examples of Engaged Research can be found across all disciplines using terms such as: participatory action research, community engaged research, design thinking, open innovation, public-patient involvement, co-creation, co-production, co-operative inquiry, citizen science and many more.

  • Engaged research aims to address societal challenges.
  • Engaged research consists of research approaches and methodologies that share a common interest in collaborative engagement with the community.
  • Engaged research is advanced with community partners rather than for them.
  • Community is represented by city representatives (municipality), civil society representatives, private corporations, and/or engaged citizens.

UNIC Twitter,

UNIC Facebook,

UNIC LinkedIN,

UNIC Instagram,

UNIC Youtube,

UNIC Newsletters


Partners: The project is being coordinated by Erasmus University Rotterdam (Rotterdam, NL). Other members of the Consortium are Koç University (İstanbul, TUR); Ruhr University of Bochum (RUB, GER); University College Cork (Cork, IRL); University of Deusto (Bilbao, ESP); University of Liège (BEL); University of Oulu (FIN); University of Zagreb (Zagreb, CRO).

Key Inclusive Development Strategies for LifeLongLearning (KIDS4ALLL)

Principal Investigators: Çetin Çelik

Researchers: Birce Altıok (MiReKoc), Begüm Sonbahar, Eleni Pothou

Funder: Horizon 2020 – the Framework Programme for Research and Innovation

Duration: 1 April 2021-31 March 2024

Project Budget: 3.1 million Euro


KIDS4ALLL aims to implement a pilot action that will experiment a learning method and learning environment in formal, non- formal and informal educational contexts to address the integration challenges of migrant children.
The KIDS4ALLL learning method draws on (1) knowledge acquisition (2) skills training and (3) attitude transfer to convey lifelong learning competences as a whole within a collaborative and co-creative learning process. As a response to the educational needs of children, in particular of migrant children, and of educators as pathfinders for continuous lifelong and lifewide learning, the project is grounded on three Key Inclusive Development Strategies (KIDS) towards LifeLongLearning (LLL), which represent the specific objectives of the project:

1) Fostering acquisition, maintenance and cultivation of competences related to the 8 LLL key areas;
2) Enhancing the methodological competences of educators towards inclusive and participatory teaching, training and intercultural dialogue;
3) Testing the concept of peer-to-peer learning in the form of buddyship collaboration (guided pairing of learners) with the lifelong and lifewide dimensions of learning.
The learning method will be corroborated by the online and offline instruments that represent the KIDS4ALLL learning environment.
The KIDS4ALLL project team envisages implementation of the pilot action in formal, non-formal and informal institutions in 9 countries (2 of which non-EU), all chosen because of their specific and variegated migration and educational contexts, and reaching approximately 1000 members of the principal target groups defined by the project.
The impact of KIDS4ALLL will be brought about through the combined expertise of the consortium members, including academic institutions, civil society organizations and policymakers from 10 EU countries and 2 non-EU countries, and an International Advisory Board that covers six additional countries in Europe and beyond.


  • Universita Degli Studi Di Torino
  • Oslomet – Storbyuniversitetet
  • Tarki Tarsadalomkutatasi Intezet Rt
  • Sirius Policy Network on Migrant Education
  • Koc University
  • University of Peloponnese
  • Friedrich-Schiller-Universitat Jena
  • Universitat de Barcelona
  • Universita Degli Studi Di Padova
  • Indire Istituto Nazionale Di Documentazione Per L’innovazione E La Ricerca Educativa
  • Levinsky College of Education Tel- Aviv
  • Ars Media Srl
  • Institute for Education Malta
  • Foundation for Access To Rights – Far

More information available here.

Official website:

Urban Displacement, Development and Donor Policies in the Middle East

Principle Investigator: Ahmet İçduygu

Researcher: Souad Osseiran

Project duration: 2019-2022 (36 months)

Aiding large numbers of urban displaced is a major challenge to humanitarian policy. Unable to the address the root causes of displacement, the international community is searching for better polices to address displacement in fragile host countries as this is not only a key development challenge, but also an opportunity: towns and cities offer better prospects for medium-term integration and self-reliance than do traditional rural and camp-based responses. To this end, there has been a transition from person-centric (rights-based) towards site-centric (place-based) approaches integrated in a comprehensive developmental approach to urban displacement. This project seeks to add to these efforts by investigating the key elements needed for instituting a place-centred (area-based) urban response for Middle East refugees and IDPs. This research aims to produce comprehensive and comparable information about the needs of urban based Syrian refugees in Turkey and other countries neighboring Syria with the goal of contributing to the development of effective urban refugee policies in the region. While there is macro aggregrated data about refugees in the countries where the study will be carried out (Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq), there is limited research on the micro-level experiences of refugees and the impact of policies on refugee choices of living place and living experiences.

Funder: Norwegian Research Council

Partners: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI), Institute Français du Proche-Orient (Jordan), Middle East Research Institute (MERI), Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI)

Interactive Social Integration Model for Improving Migration Governance in Turkey

Principal Investigators: Ahmet İçduygu

Investigators: Özgür İlke Şanlıer Yüksel (Çukurova University), Şebnem Köşer Akçapar (Koç University), Sedef Turper (Koç University), Kadir Onur Unutulmaz (Social Sciences University of Ankara), İlker Kayı (Koç University)

Researchers: Burak Ağalday, Fevza Köseoğlu Darılmaz, Duygu Merve Uysal

Funder: TUBITAK 1003 Program

Overview:The Project assesses the increasing migration movements in Turkey over the medium and long term results to discuss governance issues of migration in Turkey. The study will examine the relevant regulations introduced by the central government, as well as how these regulations are implemented by different actors at the local level. In addition, the findings obtained from this study will be based on a historical framework and will examine the reasons, how they affect our cities in different periods and different kinds of immigration movements in different periods since the 1990s. The research project also aims to renew and improve the existing immigration and migration policy governance concepts and practices of migration movements of the last thirty years in Turkey in the light of their effects of on the urban transformation. The research project will analyze the relationships between the migration processes and the transformations in the cities in different regions of our country by gathering and evaluating the data of local governments, local people and migrants arriving in different periods with scientific methods.

Forced Migration Resource Center

Researchers: Souad Osseiran

Overview: Forced Migration Resource Center at Koc University (FMRC) is an online platform established by Migration Research Center at Koc University (MiReKoc) in partnership with Vehbi Koc Foundation (VKV). The platform draws together a diverse collection of reliable and accurate resources concerning forced migration in general and Syrian refugees in particular. The center provides online and free access to anyone – that is, individual researchers, universities, civil society organizations, international organizations, policy makers, media, and displaced persons themselves seeking information into issues related to forced migration and asylum. The primary aim of FMRC is to increase the research capacity of all state and non-state actors working in the field and enhance inter-institutional communication among civil society, academia, policy-makers and international organizations addressing the issue of forced migration. It also aims to prevent the information pollution and regulate the overload of information in the field.