Location/geographical coverage

University of Georg-August of Gottingen, Germany

Background and description

The university of Gottingen has a multicultural student body with a total of 3380 international students[1] who are engaged in teaching, academia and research, representing the 12% of students.

To support the inclusion of refugees and people with a migrant background, the university implements different services:

  • Information office supporting since the pre-enrolment phase by providing information on how to apply for the different degree courses. This includes also information on how to validate previous qualifications obtained abroad and opportunities for financial support.
  • Language courses – the university, together with the Institute for Intercultural Communication, offers an intensive programme of course in German as foreign language for refugees who want to study there. The programme prepares students for the DSH exam, a prerequisite for admission to the university. Classes are not only attended by refugees, but also by participants who do not have a refugee background. As part of this programme, assistance is available for participants requiring homework support or advice on how to learn a new language. The courses are funded by the German Academic Exchange Service through the programme Integra – Integrating Refugees in Higher Education.
  • Library offerings–open to everyone both with or without registration for research and reading.
  • International Writing Lab–supporting all students in working on their writing projects and in developing academic and professional writing skills. The university offers writing consultation service as well, but the workshops are particularly suitable for those who want to learn about academic writing, the writing process or different kinds of text in general. The consultation is addressed to those who are in the process of writing a project and need support to address specific objectives.

In the Multi Con Text workshops and in academic writing partnerships, the teaching languages are German and/or English. While, in the other workshops, the language of instruction is German and students should have at least a level B2.

The workshops focus on writing in multilingual contexts meaning that they address, for instance, how to deal with writing in a language different from the one in which you are reading texts or taking notes.

  • Aid for threatened scholars and scientists – the Scholars at risk (SAR)[2]provides funding to host scientists and scholars at risk. Researchers from all countries outside the EU who are demonstrably exposed to a significant acute threat can be nominated by the university as the host institution. Successful institutions will receive funding to provide their nominated researchers with fully funded fellowships, alternatively employment for up to 24 months of research. The university takes part to this initiative.

Along with these services, the university encourages and supports initiatives offered by other students, such as:

  • Conquer Babel – founded in 2015 with the goal to support efforts by the city of Göttingen to integrate the rising numbers of refugees into the community, it is a team of volunteers from various countries and fields of study aiming at helping refugees with translations, German lessons and intercultural events as a way to foster their inclusion. They are currently offering translations in the following languages: Arabic, Farsi, Tigrinya, French, Albanian, Urdu, Pashto, Swahili, Russian and the Kurdish dialect Sorani.

As part of the tutoring programme they offer, one student and one refugee meet once a week and the student helps with the German language and homework.

  • Refugee law clinic – a not-for-profit association founded by Göttingen students providing people without a German passport can obtain assistance and support on legal matters.
  • Talk2Us – a group of psychology students providing psychological counselling for refugees and migrants in Göttingen. Their main aim is to provide relief from acute stress, to stabilize and to enable self-help through our counselling. However, they state clearly that this service is not a substitute for psychotherapy.

Stakeholders and Partners

The stakeholder involved in the service include:

  • representatives of the various committees at Göttingen University from the Presidential Board, Senate, the deans’ offices
  • researchers at the faculties who are working on the topics of migration, diversity and interculturality
  • the heads of the departments and administrative boards of the University (Göttingen International, Student and Academic Services, Gender Equality and Diversity)
  • non-university partners like representatives from the MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and the HAWK University of Applied Sciences and Arts and the Private University of Applied Science (PFH)

Furthermore, representatives of the Student Services Centre and the City and District of Göttingen are participating as well as are volunteer students from initiatives who provide support on legal matters, language learning and intercultural exchanges during mutual activities.

The beneficiaries of the service are refugee students at university independently from their country of origin.

Methodological Approach

The initiative is coordinated and managed by the Refugees Task Forcebringing together all locally relevant stakeholders who deal with refugees. İt was established as an initiative in reaction to the diverse group of refugees arriving in Göttingen. It is designed to provide a forum for sharing information about all activities revolving around the subject of refugee integration and meets at irregular intervals.

The task force is further divided into four working groups examinating and working on the different aspects of how the inclusion of refugees on the Göttingen Campus work:

  1. Shaping the process for integration into degree programmes – during their meetings, individual programme offerings can be discussed and potential synergistic effects implemented on the campus. The university will continue to intensify its information and advisory activities for refugees to further facilitate their integration into study curricula.
  2. Qualification and sensitisation of students–they mainly work on: offering teachers, non-academic staff and students information on how to support the inclusion of refugee students; support in the development of needs-based offers for language qualifications; making topic-oriented offers in research and teaching on the topics of gender, diversity and migration more visible.
  3. Qualification and sensitisation of students -particularly dealing with issues relating to the law on residency and status that the refugees have after their arrival and during their stay in Germany.
  4. Service learning – combining academic learning with civic engagement in the form of services rendered for charitable organisations. This approach helps students make a meaningful contribution to improving community service and solving problems for the common good.


In both cases, the students highlight how the services provided by the university supported them throughout their studies. Being able to access extra-training and information on aspects related not only to their academic studies, but on the community they are living in has further supported their inclusion and helped them in accessing other services available in the territory.

Innovation potential

The practice provides refugee students with a number of services that are not only strictly related to their academic studies. This aspect allows to provide a wider support in terms of social inclusion in the community where the university operates and the students live.

For instance, providing laboratories in which they can learn how to write academic papers and what elements to take into consideration when doing so, it is a way to fosters skills that can be used also in other contexts and that are a valuable resource for their entire academic path.

Success Factors

One of the main success factors of this practice is the capacity to involve the whole community, not only at university level but also the organisations active in the town. The university provides some of the services outlined, but favours also the engagement of associations of current and former students as well as organisations working in the territory to favour the inclusion of refugees and migrants.

At the same time, this allows to provide a support that goes behind academic related challenges and barriers. Among the services provided, there are also ones related to support in legal matters, bureaucratic procedures, psychosocial inclusion, etc.

Furthermore, the participation of the City and District of Göttingen is another element of success of the practice. Having the support of local institutions has allowed the university to develop an inclusive community for refugee students also outside its buildings. In this way, it is favoured also their inclusion in the society and in the labour market.


Through the desk research, it was not possible to identify the main challenges and constraints met by the university in developing and providing the services included in this practice.

Lessons learned

Providing a variety of services that can support refugee students in different aspects of their life is one of the most important elements of this practice. This is possible thanks to the participation and cooperation of different stakeholders in the territory, both in terms of typology of actor and of issues tackled by them.

By working together under different aspects, these actors are able to provide a comprehensive support to the refugee community in Göttingen.


It is not possible to retrieve data on the cost/efficiency of this practice as this information is not available online.

On the implementation sustainability, it should be underlined once again the importance of the partnership composed by different actors that are able to address different aspects that might prevent the academic and social inclusion of refugees.

Replicability and/or up-scaling potential

The first step to be done for the replication of the practice should be to contact and reach the local authorities in order to identify the actors and strategies that should be put in place to create a bridge between the university and the wider society. This will allow to develop services that take into consideration the specificities and needs of the territory.

From this initial collaboration and analysis, it will be possible to develop and put in place the kind of services that are needed in the specific context.

The other important aspect to take into consideration is to involve the student community, including associations that can offer collateral services to ones offered by the university. At the same time, it will increase the awareness of other students on the importance of taking actions and being supportive towards fellow students.


Through the information gathered and the experiences from refugee students, it is possible to say that the comprehensive approach used in this practice has mostly impacted who benefitted of it.

The kind of services provided can serve as an input to other institutions for the development of initiatives that can foster the inclusion and participation of refugee students in higher education.

As mentioned in previous session, refugee students have the opportunity to be involved in activities and get access to services enhancing their capacities to fully participate to academic and social life.

Contact details

Anke Anwand


Phone: +49 551 39-27775

Contact information available on the website

URL of the practice Reference document

[1]Data retrieved from the university webpage on 15th of June 2022.

[2]It is an association of over 400 universities, research institutions and other scientific organisations in 39 countries working together to support scientists and scholars threatened by repression. The network thusaimsatstrengtheningacademicfreedomworldwide.