Integration through education is one of Hamburg's main priorities for refugees. There are many courses and programmes set up by the government and universities to encourage this process. Refugees may benefit from language courses, foreign qualification recognition and assistance from universities to get back into education after a gap. Make use of technology with apps such as Hello Hamburg to guide you around the city, and practice German using online support and apps.
Language classes can be taken through the Hamburger Volkshochschule (VHS) or through other language schools. The VHS is quite affordable and can award certificates for German as a Foreign Language (TestDAF). Refugees can also contact their Refugee Centre to see if it is possible to attend an orientation course for both German language and culture through the VHS.
An alternative is learning German online using websites such as Ich will Deutsch lernen. Although this online site cannot award certificates, it provides excellent German language practice and is totally free to use.
To advance the integration of refugee children, the government has created the 'Lesestart' programme (German only), designed to guide kids on their first steps into the German language and to support learning. Children receive a set of age-appropriate books and parents are given tips on how to help children get started reading aloud. Sets are available for children up to twelve years old.
Integration at University
Many of Hamburg's universities have created their own programmes for integrating refugees into student life. Universität Hamburg has introduced the #UHHhilft programme, which paves the way for refugees to return to higher education after being forced to discontinue their studies at home. The programme assists refugees with all admissions and application questions, offers German courses and orientation courses on studying in Germany, and organises a buddy programme and sporting activities.
Similarly, the Technische Universität Hamburg Harburg (TUHH) devised a programme called 'From Camp to Campus', which gives refugees the opportunity to use the library, and offers many information evenings and playgroups on the university grounds. TUHH has opened up 19 English-language lectures to prospective students to allow them to experience university life. The university also offers language courses, with students acting as 'language buddies' to help them grasp German. Additionally, there is a pro bono initiative to advise refugees of their rights, as well as campus tours in Arabic and a huge variety of cultural events, which everyone is warmly invited to get involved in.
HAW Hamburg offers preparatory courses for refugees who wish to study in Germany. The “KOMPETENZ KOMPAKT” and “KOMPETENZ KOMPAKTplus” courses for aspiring students offer support and guidance for a successful university career. Multi-language tutorials on different subjects assist students in acquiring know-how and competencies for organising everyday student life, such as setting up a WiFi connection, gaining access to libraries, joining university sports groups and partaking in other leisure activities. For further information (German only) see this link.
Recognition of Foreign Qualifications
As a general rule, a qualification can be recognised if it was legally awarded and is recognised in the home country. The original qualification certificate will likely need to be translated into German by a certified translator, depending on the original language of issue. However, although qualifications are often recognised, they may not necessarily be equivalent to the German counterpart qualification. For example, a teaching qualification from abroad may not suffice to teach immediately in Germany, and more training may be required.
It is possible that refugees do not have physical access to the certificates proving their qualifications. In such cases, the 'Federal Recognition Act' (Anerkennungsgesetz des Bundes) enables refugees to determine and prove their skills through technical discussions and samples of work.