“I like how the course is organised as we have to do lots of individual assignments and this is where you learn a lot. The teachers are also very open and accessible.” - Nikolai Atefie, student.
Migration and its effects on a global scale has become one of the most fundamental issues concerning societies worldwide. Governments, corporations, politicians and individuals all over the world try to grasp the possibilities and concerns of increasing mobility on a global scale. International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University addresses these issues.
Refugees from war-torn regions of the world, people seeking to find jobs and a decent living away from their country of birth, executives in multinational corporations; they are all part of migratory movements. This programme studies the effects of migration at a global and national level, on the formation of ethnic communities, religious groups, families, individuals — to find out how policies could facilitate integration and hinder segregation and racism in societies worldwide. It also addresses fundamental issues concerning concepts such as culture and ethnicity.
In the past decades, Malmö has gone through a dramatic change. What recently was a working class industrial city is now a thriving city, focused on the production of service and knowledge rather than industrial goods. Malmö is also one of the cities in northern Europe with the largest proportion of newly arrived migrants. It is therefore an exciting place to study the effects of international migration and ethnic relations and we collaborate with the surrounding society concerning these issues. The strong international element in the programme is emphasized by the possibility for students to take an entire semester abroad with one of our partner universities around the world.
Nikolai Atefie is a busy young man. The 19-year-old Austrian, who is studying for a bachelor’s degree in international migration and ethnic relations, has four jobs and two business cards.
It’s perhaps not a surprise that the Vienna native opted to study in Malmö. After all, he has grandparents from Iran and Hungary so he feels very much at home in the diverse environment of Malmö University.
Nikolai has made Sweden his second port of call after spending a year in Strasbourg working with the Council of Europe. After finishing high-school he had to make a choice what to do with his future.
For him the answer was obvious. Go abroad. He hasn’t looked back since.
– In Austria it is mandatory to take military or civil service. I’m against armed conflict so that was a no-go and neither did I want to work in an office for six months. Getting the opportunity to go abroad and represent Austria was ideal for me, Atefie says.
In Strasbourg the Austrian was installed as the project manager for the European alliance of cities and regions for Roma inclusion, where he communicated youth issues. It’s clear that he grew passionate about his work and takes an avid interest in minority rights.
– I knew nothing about the Roma community before I went there and it took me a year to understand the issue. Roma people are misunderstood. What is going on at European level about this issue is a shame as it is not contributing to improve the situation, he says matter-of-factly.
After completing a year in France he decided to embark on the next chapter of his life by enrolling in Malmö University. Atefie made the move from Strasbourg to Skåne last August to begin the first year of the three-year academic bachelor's programme International Migration and Ethnic Relations. The programme aims to prepare students for a career dealing with migration and diversity related issues such as asylum law and globalisation.
All of which appealed to the young Austrian who was eager to study in English as opposed to his native German.
– Once I found the programme in Malmö I became convinced very quickly as it seemed to have everything I was looking for. Sweden has a very good reputation in Austria in terms of education.
– I like how the course is organised as we have to do lots of individual assignments and this is where you learn a lot. The teachers are also very open and accessible.
Ask Atefie about his future plans and his answers are assured and to the point. He intends to work in journalism - or should that be - return to media work where he already has substantial experience.
When he was 14 he began his association with the Austrian broadcasting corporation and wrote for the youth section of a major newspaper. He’s maintained his media output in Malmö where he hosts a weekly late night talk show on Radio AF.
– My ambition for the future is to make documentaries. I want to have a positive impact on society with my work, he says.
For now though he is enjoying life in Malmö which he describes as a “cosy town” where he has made a lot of friends.
Former student Carolina Hamma works as an Electoral Adviser for UNMIT (United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste). She is part of a team ensuring that international principles on elections are fulfilled, in cooperation with local agencies.
How did you end up working in Timor-Leste?
– I uploaded my CV to the UN-Volunteers website and they contacted me a few months later about this opportunity. It sounded really interesting. Then I had a phone interview, where I among other things had to prove that I speak Portuguese.
What else have you worked with since graduating from Malmö University?
– I’ve had many different jobs; I’ve worked as a project assistant on a research project about young people in Malmö, and as a social worker at a home for refugee minors. I have also interned at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs and worked for RedR UK, a non-profit in London that trains humanitarian NGO workers. I have always done what I’ve felt has been really meaningful, and it hasn’t always been easy achieving my goals. Language skills have been crucial; I speak several languages, including Spanish and Portuguese which I’ve learned while travelling and taking classes.
What’s a typical day at work like for you in Timor-Leste?
– Each day is different from the last. But I’ll give an example from the other day: I woke up at 6am and heard what I thought was a very loud, broken motorbike emitting a strong smell of burnt rubber. It turned out it was the Health Ministry that had decided to gas the area for dengue mosquitos. Dengue fever is a big problem here. The gas lay thick and foul-smelling around the whole block. After an ice-cold shower, I took the jeep to work. We were going to Iraler, a mountain village in the district where I work. Six of us fit into the four-wheel drive: three international UNVs and three staff from CNE (National Commission for Elections). Iraler was some 75 km away, but it took us a few hours to get there as the roads are mainly eroded sand, dirt and mud. When we arrived we met up with some colleagues from the Secretariat for Election Administration who were conducting Voters Education in the village. We were going to monitor the event. We also interviewed first-time and young voters about the knowledge about and access to information on the presidential election of March 17. We also delivered election material to the democratically elected village chief and recorded the GPS coordinates of the village. This is needed because the village is so isolated that the votes have to be collected by helicopter on election day. When we were done the village hosted us for lunch, as we had travelled so far to visit them.
– After that we went to a different village to check on a campaign for one of the presidential candidates and leave some information material about the election. Then it was time to go home. The roads were lined with children waving and shouting ‘malaj malaj!’ (which means foreigner). There are a lot of young people in Timor-Leste, 69 per cent of the population are younger than 25. Many of the older people died during the Indonesian occupation 1975-2000. A third of the total population is thought to have lost their lives during those years.
Do you have any advice for current students?
– Be realistic when you follow your dreams and find out as much as possible about what they entail. Become an information junkie. And it’s alright to give up and try something new, ha-ha! I know that everyone says the opposite, but there’s nothing wrong with choosing a new path.
Graduates typically get jobs within a wide range of areas such as government and non-government organisations concerned with issues of globalisation, migration, refugees, integration and segregation. Graduates can also find jobs connected to social work, journalism and various businesses concerned with global issues. You can also proceed to studies at advanced level/master's courses and eventually conduct research at the PhD level.
Syllabus for students admitted autumn 2016
The education is provided by the Faculty of Culture and Society at the department Department of Global Political Studies.