“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,” University president Prof. Peter-André 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.
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.
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. In addition, a special, more extensive module in German as a foreign language is being developed.
Further programs and services for refugees who are interested in studying are in the preparatory stages.