Huge demand for refugee courses at Germany universities

Most finished integration courses, but few ended up with advanced German skills – and the vast majority were male

January 4, 2018
Refugee students
Source: iStock

German universities were overwhelmed by the number of refugees seeking integration courses, according to new data that shed light on how institutions coped with the unprecedented influx.

More than 60 per cent of universities reported more demand than they expected in 2016 for Integra, a university preparation course of language classes and subject specific lessons. Just 7 per cent reported lower demand than anticipated.

Although the majority of refugees successfully completed the courses, just one in 10 finished with a sufficiently advanced level of German to begin a university course in German, the survey found.

As a result, many will have had to wait until they could join a course, according to the report, “Integration of Refugees in German Universities”, from the German Academic Exchange Service. About half finished with intermediate German, and the rest were at unclassified or beginner level of proficiency.

Overall, 6,806 refugees participated in an Integra programmes in 2016, of which three-quarters came from Syria. Six per cent were from Afghanistan, and another 6 per cent were from Iran, where participants tended to be older and more likely to be female.

Eighty-one per cent of those who took the Integra course – part of a €100 million (£89 million) package running from 2015-19 for universities to help refugees – were male, according to the report. For asylum seekers from Eritrea, the proportion was 97 per cent.

This in part reflects the demographic of asylum seekers in Germany, the report explains: of 18-30 year-olds, 74 per cent are male. Universities also reported that although qualified women sought advice on their studies, they often did not join a course because of childcare responsibilities.

david.matthews@timeshighereducation.com

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