November 17, 2020
In view of the estimated 32,000 students with a refugee background in Germany, universities will in future have to deal increasingly with asylum and residence law issues if they want to advise and support their students. Also with regard to social security benefit claims, regulations for refugees differ in some cases from those for other groups of people. At Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (HsKA), the „Erfolgreich starten international“ (esi) orientation program specifically addresses refugees so that they can put an emphasis on acquiring German language skills in their first year of studies in electrical engineering and information technology. The „eBi“ project of HsKA‘s Center of Competence supports refugee and international students to start their careers successfully. In addition, the Service Center for Teaching and Learning, the university's study counseling center, provides a central point of contact for refugees wishing to begin their studies at HsKA.
The Baden-Württemberg Refugee Council (Flüchtlingsrat Baden-Württemberg e. V.) provides advice as well as a wide range of information resources, some of which are multilingual. As a network of local initiatives and stakeholders in Baden-Württemberg, the Refugee Council can also refer refugees to local counseling centers and initiatives if further support is needed in individual cases. "The demand for advisory services is generally high and comes from a wide variety of places," says Seán McGinley, Managing Director of the Refugee Council. "In addition to social welfare associations and local authorities, educational institutions also turn to the Refugee Council. Around a third of the inquiries received by us come from official institutions.“
While the Refugee Council can offer advice and training for volunteers as part of the "Active for Integration" project sponsored by the Ministry of Social Affairs, there is no project-related funding for full-time positions. In response to this development, the Refugee Council introduced supporting memberships last year for organizations and institutions that employ full-time staff in the field of refugee, migration and integration work. Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences has now become the first academic supporting member of the Council in Baden-Württemberg.
"In principle we want to be there for everyone who needs our support," says McGinley. "But as a small association with nine employees for all of Baden-Württemberg, this is a great challenge. We are pleased that more and more organizations are opting for a supporting membership. This shows us that our work is perceived as important by a broad spectrum of stakeholders in our society."
"We make regular use of the advice and information offered by the Refugee Council, which is why we see the supporting membership as an expression of our appreciation for its important work. In this way, we can better support prospective students and students with a refugee background before and during their studies," says Oliver Broschart, Director of the Service Center for Teaching and Learning and refugee representative at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences.