Higher Education
supporting Refugees
in Europe

University of Applied Sciences Osnabrueck (DE)

The initiatives for refugees at Osnabrueck University of Applied Sciences currently consist of three offers:

1) Our guest auditor programme
In our guest auditor programme, refugees who have already applied for asylum can attend courses of up to 10 ECTS per semester for free. If they participate in the programme, they can also take exams, and if they pass their courses, they will receive a certificate. Should they enter the university at a later point of time, we will (of course!) recognise these credit points.

Our hope is that our programme gives refugees the chance to look at what our programmes offer, to find an orientation at a German university of applied sciences, and also to bridge the time until they meet our admission criteria.

For our guest auditor programme, we do not ask for any formal academic pre-requisites. We have designed a process in which refugees have two personal counselling sessions: one at the central university level where we look at their documents and inform them about the entrance requirements. Also, we estimate whether they can follow classes in German or English. If not, we advise them to take a German class with us.

The second appointment is at the faculty level where we help the refugees in choosing their courses.
For the summer semester 2017, 80 refugees have registered as guest auditors, and we are working with 60 refugees in the field of intensive German language courses.

2) Campus without Borders
Our student initiative where students can volunteer to be buddies or tutors to the refugees who participate in our guest auditor programme started in May 2015. The project is led by a steering committee that consists of students and refugees. There are open offers for everyone (parties, info sessions, “Meet & Greets”) and there is a tandem project for the guest auditors in which one student tutors one refugee and helps him or her through the “labyrinth” that a university can sometimes be.

3) Tandem Project: Social Work with Refugees
This project is also destined for the guest auditors but on a more scientific basis. Students of social work can participate in the project. They receive schooling and training to be prepared to deal with refugees (e.g. trauma awareness, systemic counselling, legal aspects, local networks, and so on) and support them throughout their semester as guest auditors.

Kiron Open Higher Education gUG Photo

German language course at Osnabrueck University of Applied Sciences. © Hochschule Osnabrueck
Campus without Borders at HS Osnabrueck campus Lingen (in German language)
Our initiatives started running in September 2015 and have been ongoing since then.
Refugee students: 60 – 80
Refugee researchers: 1
Our initiatives are linked to the internationalisation strategy in that we consider refugees as potential international students and treat them accordingly: we do not consider them as disadvantaged learners. Since most refugees with whom we work live in Osnabrueck, we use the same methods as with our students.

Also, it is linked to our third mission (community engagement and responsibility) where we decided that it is our task to support refugees in our country by helping them gain access to higher education.
Practice tested
We consider refugees potential international students, not disadvantaged learners. Since most refugees who we work with live in Osnabrück, we use the same methods as with our students.
Yes, we collaborate with the University of Osnabrueck and with the “Bildungswerk ver.di” (adult education provider). Both links were pre-existing and will continue to be used.
The benefits will be long-term since they enable us to test our concepts (study preparation, guest auditors from abroad) with regard to international degree-seeking students in general.

We are currently establishing our new Centre for International Students where the three topics, international degree-seeking students, refugees and German as a Foreign Language are interlinked. Our goal is to raise the number of international students on campus, and we therefore work on many activities that will help enable international applicants to find the way into our system more easily. For example, we plan to develop intensive language courses for applicants who do not yet meet the language requirement (C1 German). Our experiences with the refugees help us understand how long it takes to advance from B2 to C1 or from B1 to C1, how many hours are needed, what additional activities are important, etc.

Our project Campus without Borders will be re-addressed to international degree-seeking students once there are fewer refugees using the offers available.
Funding structure
Our initiatives are mainly funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (national government). Also, the state government has allowed us to use part of their funding for refugees.