Integration through Education

Refugees Education for Refugees

Hamburg takes pride in its efforts to help refugees. Education is a high priority as it helps refugees experience a smooth integration into society.

Education for Refugees

Integration through education is one of the main priorities in Hamburg, with many courses and schemes set up by the government and universities to encourage the process. Refugees may benefit from language courses, foreign qualification recognition and assistance from universities to get back into education. Make use of technology, and find apps such as Hello Hamburg which can help guide you around the city, and learn the language using online support.

Learning German

Language classes can be taken through the Hamburger Volkshochschule (VHS) or through other language schools. The VHS is rather affordable and can award certificates for 'German as a Foreign Language' (TestDAF). Refugees can also speak to their Refugee Centre, as it may be possible to attend an orientation course of 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 can help provide additional information and help with learning German, and is totally free to use.

To advance the integration of refugee children, the government has created the 'Lesestart' programme (German only), designed to give kids their first steps into the German language and to support them with learning. Children receive a set with around five age-appropriate books and tips for the parents on how to get children reading out loud. Sets are available for children aged up to twelve years.

Integration at University

Many of Hamburg's universities have created their own programmes for integrating refugees into university life. Universität Hamburg has introduced the #UHHhilft programme, which paves the way for refugees forced to discontinue their studies to return to higher education. 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'. Refugees have the opportunity to use the library, and many information evenings and playgroups take place 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 on the way towards a successful university career. Multi-language tutorials on different subjects assist students to acquire know-how as well as 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 may need to be translated into German by a certified translator. Qualifications may be recognised, however, they might not necessarily be equivalent to the German counterpart qualification: for example, a teaching qualification from abroad may not suffice 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.