A german University opens its doors to refugees: In Hildesheim, in the north of Germany, professors and students try to help refugees to thrive, not just survive. The study is giving structure and a daily routine, the students are a part of the normal university. Many have an unsecured residence permit, but they have the courage to learn and they are highly motivated to learn.
"Let's help refugees thrive, not just survive", so is the call from Melissa Fleming from the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). We should support refugees to survive and help them at the same time going to develop their personality, in order to succeed.
With the "World Refugee Day" on June 20th 2015 the UN is drawing attention worldwide on the problems of escape but also pointing out the strength, the courage and perseverance from refugees.
On this day, the University of Hildesheim in Germany is also setting an example: students and professors assist refugees on their educational pathways and the language learning, they play football together, theatre and music.
University President Professor Wolfgang-Uwe Friedrich calls for greater opening of the education system and to engage in supporting refugees in schools and universities. On World Refugee Day Mr. Friedrich points out the role of universities: "We want to contribute to research and teaching, studying and training in order to improve the educational opportunities of people from immigration families. We simultaneously recognize their diverse experiences. We should encourage the poorest and most diligent after our best efforts, even and especially in the education system."
Since spring 2015 the University of Hildesheim is allowing student refugees to study. Among them is Iman Ziaudin who grew up in Afghanistan and Pakistan and fled as a young woman to Germany. Since one and a half years she has lived in Hildesheim, since two months she is going to University. "The Hildesheim University makes me stronger. I hear all day German. It's a nice feeling: I can study, I feel like other students. I come to the university, sit in class and imagine my future. I think it's super-beautiful", says the 25-year-old computer science student. She is currently attending six lectures and prepares parallel to a language test.
The students have very different life stories and qualifications, there are people who did not study before up to those who have earned a degree in their hometown. Among them, for example, engineers and computer scientist from Syria, a political science student from Sudan, a doctor and a fashion designer from Syria. "The study is giving structure and a daily routine, the students are a part of the normal university. Many have an unsecured residence permit, but they have the courage to learn and they are highly motivated to learn", says Hannes Schammann, a professor of migration policy in Hildesheim. Country and local authorities should "create opportunities, so that the refugees can pay attention to something that makes sense".
Students accompany the student refugees on their way through the university. They were trained for advising the student counseling and they know support programs. They also form language tandems. "Students from Iraq, Syria and Somalia looking for tandem partner. It's about sharing in everyday language. I am speaking with increasingly more young refugees who simply would like to speak German and who are looking for contact with other young people", says Steffi Albrecht from the International Office.
In Hildesheim University there are no entry requirements. The idea is to allow the entry into the study. The University is working with Asyl e.V. to reach refugees and with local organisations. Challenges include the language skills or the recognition/permission of higher education entrance qualification. Many who have completed a course of study in their home country, were striving to take their papers despite the escape. "Many students had almost finished their study, but had to flee from Syria, Iraq and Sudan, fleeing from Afghanistan and Iran. They should not lose their bond to the university", says Daoud Naso by the association Asyl e.V. in Hildesheim.
At the "Center for Diversity, Democracy and Inclusion in Education" at University of Hildesheim several scientists working together in the focal point "Education participation of refugees" (http://zbi-uni-hildesheim.de/bildungsteilhabe-von-fluechtlingen/). Elke Montanari, a professor of German as a second language, examines, how children and adults learn the German language as a second language, such as in special classes ("Sprachlernklassen") and integration courses ("Integrationskurse"). Together with student teachers and students of the master program "German as a Second Language / German as a Foreign Language" she is preparing young people who are living in Germany only since one or two years for the German Language Certificate.
Scholarships for refugee students:
The University of Hildesheim is currently trying to support students who are refugees in the financing of their further studies. Citizens, companies and organizations who want to donate a scholarship can contact University of Hildesheim.
You want to know more? The Magazine of the University of Hildesheim has been published on 19th of June, this time with a main focus on "Study after escape / Education for refugees":
University of Hildesheim
http://www.uni-hildesheim.de - University of Hildesheim in Germany
http://www.un.org/en/events/refugeeday/ - World Refugee Day
http://www.unhcr.org/pages/49c3646c2.html - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
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