Refugees Welcome?

Refugees in German higher education

The German Young Academy (Die Junge Akademie) organised a one-day conference on refugees at German universities on May 13th, 2016, in Berlin. On an almost daily basis, students, university administrators, and teachers and associations and other organisations design new initiatives to offer refugees access to higher education or to support them in other ways. The goal of this conference is to both connect existing initiatives at universities and to jointly think about further possibilities to support refugees when arriving in Germany and at universities. At the same time, the conference critically reflects the role of universities in discourse and society as well as the sustainability of existing and future initiatives.

conference flyer (pdf)


9:00-10:00 Registration

10:00-11:00 Keynote 1: Prof. Dr. Manuela Bojadžijev, Junior Professor for Globalized Cultures, Leuphana University Lüneburg

11:00-12:00 Keynote 2: Prof. Dr. Yasemin Karakaşoğlu, Co-Vice Chancellor International Affairs and Diversity, University of Bremen

12:00-13:30 Lunch Break

13:30-14:00 Prof. Dr. Hannes Schammann and Christin Younso (University of Hildesheim): Presentation of an empirical study on admission processes for refugees at German universities

13:30-15:00 Parallel Workshops 1-6

15:00-15:30 Coffee Break

15:30-17:00 Parallel Workshops 1-6

17:00-17:30 Coffee Break

17:30-19:00 Panel Discussion: Universities in the Middle of Society – Responsibility and Sustainability in light of the 'Refugee Crisis'


1. Facilitating Education: How can admission and access to education be provided? What are the legal requirements? Are there best-practice models to learn from? Which questions relating to equality need to be considered?

2. Shaping Everyday Life at Universities: What are some of the approaches and solutions to shape everyday life with refugees at universities? Do courses offered in ‘in-demand languages’ make sense? Which specific counselling and support programmes are being offered, which are still missing? How can universities become institutions where refugees and locals meet as equals and learn from one another?

3. Student Initiatives: Which student initiatives are there? How can existing initiatives learn from each other? How can universities support them?

4. Focus Abroad: What kind of approaches do we find abroad, how can we learn from them? Are there useful ways to collaborate?

5. Beyond Universities: How can the integration of refugees beyond university access be supported? Which models for school education and job training are there? How can universities contribute to these – for instance with regard to teacher education?

6. Post-refugees: In what way do universities need to change in order to pass on their knowledge to society? What new formats, collaborations and visions are necessary for universities to both do justice to social diversity in the 21st century and play an active role in shaping societies?


Manal Altizini, medical student from Syria
Prof. Dr. Julia von Blumenthal, Department of Social Sciences, HU Berlin
Prof. Dr. Jasemin Karakaşoğlu, Vice Rector for International Relations and Diversity, Universität Bremen
Dr. Birgit zur Nieden, Berlin Institute for Integration and Migration Research
Swen Schulz, MdB, Member of the Committee on Education, Research and Technology Assessment

Moderation: Jan-Martin Wiarda