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Germany: refugees at university

Education plays a central role in integrating refugees. More than half of the refugees arriving in Germany are younger than 25, an age when education is most needed. Many have gained a university entrance qualification in their home country, or had commenced or completed a degree programme there. With funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) has developed a set of targeted measures to enable universities to offer those refugees with sufficient academic qualification access to higher general and higher vocational education. 

Approximately EUR 100 million in funding will be available until 2019. Using funding from the BMBF, the DAAD has developed an extensive package of long-term measures comprising three components which form the basis for ensuring access to university study:  

  • component 1: recognising skills and qualifications: refugees who are potentially qualified for university study arrive with a wide range of language skills and abilities. Precisely determining what these abilities are, whether they qualify them for study and where support is needed, supports integration into regular degree programmes and contributes to academic success. This is achieved through an initial advising session, diagnostic testing procedures and the assessment of certificates of academic qualification (TestAS, uni-assist and onSET for refugees);
  • component 2: ensuring academic qualification through language and subject-related preparation: the funding programme Integrating refugees in degree programmes (Integra) prepares young foreigners without a university entrance qualification for the rigours of university study by offering relevant programmes at preparatory colleges (Studienkollegs), foundation courses and at German universities. Participants learn fundamental subject-specific knowledge and terminology, and develop individual learning strategies and social skills. The German federal government has agreed to finance some 2 400 additional places at preparatory colleges and comparable university programmes in the next few years. The universities themselves are preparing refugees for admission to their degree programmes with supplementary language and preparatory courses;
  • component 3: supporting integration at universities: through the funding programme Welcome - students helping refugees, many students are volunteering their time to assist refugees to integrate in German universities. Their efforts are contributing to the refugees’ academic success and social integration. These measures include buddy and mentoring programmes at several universities, as well as language learning projects headed by teacher trainees and students of German language studies. Such projects are funded by the Federal Government, recognising the important contribution the students are making. The programme’s funding supports students and their projects at universities by offering them employment contracts and covering the cost of materials.

Source: Refugees at universities – Programmes and measures, DAAD website, revised by ReferNet Germany.

Read more:

TestAS, uni-assist and onSET for refugees
Integrating Refugees in Degree Programmes’ (Integra)
"Welcome – Students Helping Refugees"
Higher general and vocational education institutions participating in the INTEGRA and WELCOME programmes