Berliner Institut für empirische Integrations- und Migrationsforschung

11. Institutional adaptability of tertiary education

Tertiary education institutions play a central role in the integration potential of recently migrated persons and refugees in Germany. It is here that refugees can obtain the qualifications they need to enter the job market. And it is here where students with different cultural backgrounds can come into contact with each other and begin to communicate.

The present project aims to appraise the extent to which tertiary education institutions can adapt and accommodate to the growing number of recently displaced applicants on an institutional level. Particular attention will be paid to the integration of female refugees in German universities and colleges.

How capable are German tertiary education institutions of dealing with this challenging new situation, considering how bureaucratically embedded they are?

Surveying the tertiary education institutions

400 German universities and colleges were asked to complete a questionnaire for the present project. The first point of contact were the respective vice-presidents, however, they were given the option of delegating the task of filling out specific question sets to appropriate experts from the administration. The colleges and universities were asked about different areas of their organizational or institutional adaptability. The first part of the questionnaire focused on how accessible tertiary education institutions are for refugees and foreign students. Questions in this section examined how the application process for foreigners is constructed, and the steps colleges and universities take to minimise the obstacles refugees face in attending the schools. A different question set focused on the coordination of projects, programmes and initiatives for refugees. Here, the questions explored whether the required positions are being created, and whether these positions are financed. Next, a question set sought to establish which school support options existed for refugees in particular. In this section, particular focus was paid to tandem and buddy-programmes, which are designed to facilitate recently enrolled refugees’ orientation at the new schools. In addition, the existing academic structures’ adaptability to refugees was ascertained. Finally, different programmes specifically for refugees were surveyed. These include both subject-specific or interdisciplinary study preparation programmes, further education programmes as well as German courses.