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Twinning for excellence in migration and integration research and networking (MIRNet)

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Twinning migration project achieves new level of excellence

MIRNet research centre at Tallinn University fostered collaboration with partner universities and elevated standards of research on migration, integration and citizenship.

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With the increasing influx of transnational mobility, European countries are faced with integration challenges. One such country is Estonia, notably with a history of labour-related commuting movement to and from Finland. From September 2019 until February 2023, Estonia’s Tallinn University (TLU) embarked on the EU-funded MIRNet project. This project focused on East-West migration, understudied with respect to its counterpart, North-South migration.

Migration studies as a research institution

Principal coordinator of MIRNet and professor at TLU, Raivo Vetik, describes an important result of the project: “We have established the MIRNet research centre at Tallinn University, which focuses on migration, integration and citizenship issues in comparative perspective.” The centre is called MIRNET Research Centre (MIRC). A key aim of MIRC was to institutionalise migration research. It also ensured a solid start to a research journey full of innovation. For example, a MIRNet researcher co authored the paper ‘When migrants become ‘the people’: unpacking homeland populism’, challenging the idea that migrants and populist politics do not mix. Researchers examined Estonian migration to Finland, Ecuadorian migration to Spain, and Turkish migration to Germany and pointed out how populist discourses have been effective in engaging these groups politically. Vetik comments on MIRC’s contribution to migration research: “The centre builds on our previous work on migration, integration and citizenship, but brings in new approaches and ideas gained during implementation of MIRNet.”

Twinning and advancing research networks

Crucial to MIRNet’s excellence is twinning, or collaboration with internationally leading research institutions in one of the 27 other Member States. For example, partner University of Sussex organised a research seminar on urban diversity in February 2021, with talks by partner Roskilde University. Topics included diversity tourists and gentrification in Copenhagen. MIRNet also organised one online conference and one in-person conference at Sussex University, both in 2021. Other output includes an edited volume in the IMISCOE Research Series, ‘Anxieties of migration and integration in turbulent times’, published by Springer, and a journal special issue in the Central and Eastern European Migration Review. In addition to building vital partnerships between research institutions, MIRNet attracted and supported early career researchers. More concretely, MIRNet fostered the growth of new voices by organising two training workshops in 2021, as well as a summer school in August 2022.

Migration research and the public sector

Migration studies are vital to informing policy development and implementation at various levels. By examining migrants’ experiences, researchers can provide insights into the effectiveness of existing policies and propose innovative solutions. Since October 2021 MIRNet researcher Mari-Liis Jakobson is on the supervisory board of the Estonian Integration Foundation, an important agency for immigration policy. Jakobson was also involved in creating materials for a publicly-available online course, including this infographic. MIRNet also met with public-sector stakeholders in June 2022. The main focus was integrating Ukrainian refugees, and they addressed how to both coordinate refugee education and strengthen local officials’ capacity and reception of the migrants. Although the EU funding has ended, MIRNet has big plans for the future. In cooperation with the MIRNet partners, TLU researchers are working on a proposal to investigate migration and integration policies concerning Ukrainian refugees in Denmark and Estonia.


MIRNet, migration, integration, citizenship, migration research, research centre, East West migration

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