“Our goal in starting these offerings, which are scheduled to take effect in November, is to give the people who have fled to Berlin a way to start or continue academic studies that they have been forced to discontinue or were unable to start in their homeland. We welcome the response of the Berlin Foreigners Registration Office to the refugees’ situation, and the fact that prohibiting people from entering higher education is no longer an obligatory condition imposed when temporary residence permits are issued. These means that young prospective students who can prove that they meet the qualification requirements for a higher education program can join the many others making use of what Freie Universität offers,” Professor Alt said.
One key element of the set of measures that have been adopted is the “Welcome to Freie Universität Berlin” program. As part of the program, prospective students with a refugee background will be given an opportunity to attend selected courses and participate in selected additional offerings at the university free of charge during the 2015/2016 winter semester. To augment further integration and study prospects for potential students who are already qualified, there are plans to implement the option for candidates to earn formal certificates of credit for coursework within a limited scope as part of the program, starting in the 2016 summer semester. These certificates will then be eligible for credit as part of a later study program. Freie Universität Berlin is currently in the process of coordinating this with the Berlin Senate Department for Education, Youth, and Science.
The goal of the English-language course “Berlin and German Studies” is to make it easier for prospective students to get started at the university and find their way into a regular study program. During this winter semester, courses will be offered for up to 90 participants in total. During these courses, instructors will teach the participants about Germany’s cultural, historical, social, and political development in an international context as the basis for understanding the current situation in Germany and Europe. The course content will also include information on study programs and working life along with concrete tips and information with an eye to living in Berlin.
Lack of German language skills is one of the main issues preventing qualified prospective students from starting or continuing their studies in Germany. With this in mind, Freie Universität will be offering 16-week German language courses for about 70 prospective students from refugee backgrounds this winter semester. There are plans for subsequent courses during the summer semester that should help to make it possible for qualified prospective students to start a regular study program.
For refugees without higher education entrance qualifications, the Studienkolleg at Freie Universität Berlin offers a training program that guides participants toward the Assessment Exam (Feststellungsprüfung). This examination tests applicants’ prospects of success for study program purposes. At least two additional classes will be set up for the 2016/2017 winter semester to serve prospective students who are expected to be successful in their future studies. The initial focus will be on the humanities and social sciences in one class, while the other concentrates on business and economics.
Freie Universität Berlin applauds the commitment and dedication of the members of the university community who are getting involved to support refugees in a variety of ways. To support students in their volunteering activities, students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs who complete internships in areas of organized refugee aid will be given an opportunity to earn academic credit for these activities in the general career preparation (Allgemeine Berufsvorbereitung, ABV) area of their programs from this winter semester onward, provided that certain conditions are met. In addition, a special “buddy” or mentoring program will match students at Freie Universität with refugees who are interested in studying. The Freie Universität students will offer them individual assistance and help them find their way in day-to-day life at the new – and, to them, foreign – university.
Furthermore, Freie Universität will initially offer one-day classes in German as a foreign language for all members of the university community who are interested in attending. The goal of these classes is to give volunteer German language teachers even better preparation for their activities. There are plans to expand this service to external volunteer German language teachers in the near future. In addition, a special, more extensive module in German as a foreign language is being developed. The new module will not only include aspects related to teaching and content, but also address particular factors in refugees’ histories, such as traumatic events.
Further programs and services for refugees who are interested in studying are in the preparatory stages.
Freie Universität Berlin plans to hold special events to provide prospective students from refugee backgrounds with detailed information. The first informational event will be held on
Thursday, October 22, 2015, at 10 a.m. at
Freie Universität Berlin, Henry Ford Building, Lecture Hall A,
Garystraße 35, 14195 Berlin.
More information will soon be available on the website of Freie Universität.