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Refugees and education

Studierender © SMWK / Floss

It is particularly important to integrate people, who have had to leave their homeland because of war or expulsion and have had to find their bearings in a new country, into institutions of work or education. Refugees and asylum seekers who want to study and have the necessary education can do so in Saxony. Just like everyone else. Similarly, Saxon universities also help refugees learn the German language. After all, good language skills, like professional qualifications, are important prerequisites for completing studies successfully.

Admission requirements: just like all other applicants, refugees and asylum seekers must fulfil requirements too. This includes proof of the school-leaving qualification that is required to start higher education. In the Anabin database, applicants can check whether the foreign qualification is recognised in Germany. If the school-leaving qualification is not adequate for the study programme, interested students can avail the option of a preparatory college. Subject-specific suitability can be determined here. If, due to the circumstances of the flight, certificates are incomplete and cannot be retrieved, the universities can ease the burden of proof.

Advice at universities: if refugees are interested in studying in Saxony or want to continue a course of study that they had started in their home country, they should definitely seek advice from the universities. For example, there is also a possibility of attending lectures as a guest student and thus learning about a university. As a rule, the universities also have specific advisory services that specifically address the concerns of refugees who are interested in studying. Around 100 refugees are currently studying at Saxon universities or are guest students there.

The residence status “Prohibition of deportation” (§ 60a of the AufenthG - Residence Act) or “Temporary residence permit” (§55 of the AsylVfG - Asylum Procedure Act) does not prevent university studies. However, proof of compulsory health insurance must be provided at the time of enrolment. Asylum seekers, who receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, are not covered by health insurance.

The criteria for university admissions, enrolment, crediting of course achievements, placement exams and standardised qualifications are the same for all applicants. Foreign applicants must provide proof of the language skills required for their studies. When granting admission to applicants from non-EU countries, universities can use their discretion pursuant to § 17 Para. 1 Sentence 4 of the Freedom of Institutes of Higher Education Act (SächsHSFG). Refugees and asylum seekers can therefore be admitted to a university if they furnish proof of higher education entrance qualifications and the required language skills. If, due to the circumstances of the flight, certificates are incomplete and cannot be retrieved, the universities can ease the burden of proof within the framework of the decision of the Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) from 1985. At least one document, which indirectly proves the acquisition of a higher education entrance qualification, should be submitted. If the universities deem it necessary, they can conduct additional subject-specific and linguistic tests to check the plausibility of the information provided in the available documents.
Under these conditions, any state-regulated course of study can be taken up and any qualification can be sought.

If, due to the circumstances of the flight, certificates are incomplete and cannot be retrieved, the universities can accept indirect proofs. Gaps in the educational biography can be filled based on available papers. If, due to the circumstances of the flight, a refugee can no longer submit any certificates, the universities can conduct subject-specific tests to assess the plausibility of the submitted educational biography. In December 2015, the Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK) adapted the regulations from 1985 to the current situation. The Saxon universities apply these regulations accordingly.

Yes, refugees with appropriate language skills can be admitted by the universities to relevant classes as guest students. Some universities already offer free guest programmes.

Saxon universities have a wide range of advisory services that are geared towards the special needs of foreign students. Some universities offer their support centrally in welcome centres.
In 2017 and 2018, many universities also offered additional German language courses for university admission after the integration courses for refugees.

Recognised refugees can finance their studies through the student-BAföG under the same conditions as Germans. Refugees with the residence status “Prohibition of deportation” can receive training grants after a waiting period of 15 months. Participation in a further German language course at a state-run university, which is required for admission to the specific course assured by the university, can be funded through the pupil-BAföG ("Schüler-BAföG") if this course of study is also likely to be funded. The pupil-BAföG does not completely cover the cost of living, but job centres can provide supplementary support to the pupil-BAföG. Asylum seekers who have not completed the asylum procedure do not receive any training grants.

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