Higher education studies with a migration background

The route to studying at a higher education institution (known as “Studium” in German) is still too closely linked to a student’s social background in Germany.

Whether someone makes it through the German education system to study at a higher education institution is linked very closely to their educational background.

The fact that children with a migration background are more likely to be affected by social and financial risks and come from educationally disadvantaged families is confirmed by a study conducted by the DZHW/Stiftung Mercator and the 21st social survey of Deutsches Studierendenwerk: many come from non-academic families, one in four receive BAföG, and dropping out of university happens comparatively, often owing to financial reasons. Many students with a migration background are classic educational climbers. The economic and social support from the Studierendenwerk is of vital importance.

The 21st social survey also showed: The majority of students with a migration background have German citizenship or were born in Germany.

20 percent of students in Germany have a migration background; they are subdivided into the following four subgroups:

  • 5 percent are (children from) late repatriates (“Spätaussiedler”)
  • 4 percent are “Bildungsinländer” (permanent residents with a German secondary degree)
  • 4 percent are German students with at least one parent of foreign nationality
  • 3 percent are children of naturalised parents
  • 2 percent are naturalised students (gave up their original citizenship in favour of German citizenship)
  • 2 percent have dual (German+) citizenship

Studium +M

The programme “Studium +M” aims to promote equal opportunities for students with a migration background. A culture of welcome and recognition needs to be created for them. The aim was to encourage more students with a migration background, especially those from educationally disadvantaged homes, to study at a higher education institution and to guide them towards successful graduation. To this end, five Studentenwerke – Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, Marburg and Thuringia – each implemented a pilot project from 2015 to 2018, which addressed the current situation of students with a migration background and the host society at the respective higher education location and improve it in line with the programme’s objectives. Studium+M was mentored by Deutsches Studierendenwerk and financially supported by Stiftung Mercator.

More about the pilot projects

National Integration Award 2020

On 5th October 2020, the 4th National Integration Prize was awarded by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel and commissioner for integration Annette Widmann-Mauz. In his role as President of the DSW, Prof. Dr Rolf-Dieter Postlep took part, together with Ümmühan Ciftci, who was nominated by the DSW. An external jury chaired by Frank-Jürgen Weise, former chairman of the Bundesagentur für Arbeit and the BAMF selected Bjeen Alhassan as prize winner in 2020. Ms Alhassan fled from Syria to Germany in 2014. Her project “Lernen mit Bijin” (Learning with Bijin) is an education platform on Facebook that is specially targeted at female refugees. It deals with all aspects of life in Germany, how you can learn German and find a job or how you can sign up for higher education studies.

Ümmühan Ciftci, who was proposed by DSW in her role as founder and honorary chairperson of the association InteGREATer e.V. was among the ten finalists who were particularly praised in the award ceremony. The aim of the InteGREATer e.V. association, founded by Ms Ciftci in 2010, is to motivate, inform and raise awareness among pupils and parents (+M) of the educational paths that exist, with the help of volunteers working throughout Germany, according to the motto, “If we can manage it, so can you”. The DSW and the Studentenwerk had established a partnership with InteGREATer e.V from 2015-2018, above all in the context of the Studium+M programme. We would like to congratulate Ms Ciftci and all InterGREAT volunteers about this special recognition.

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Service for international students

The 57 Studentenwerke and Studierendenwerke in Germany ensure that students are offered more than just a research and teaching programme at their university, and that they feel comfortable and welcome here. They shape the framework conditions of higher education studies and take into account the diversity of the students.