“Access to Higher Education Institutions for Refugees” Kiron Partner Workshop Day in Berlin
On March 21st, the annual spring partner workshop was organized by Kiron as part of the INTEGRAL+ project funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). The workshop took place at the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt in Berlin and attracted more than 50 participants from all over Germany and Europe.
The event explored how access to higher education institutions for refugees can be improved based on the findings and key learnings of many initiatives by universities, start-ups and government agencies over the past few years. The event provided room for discussion and exchange between many different stakeholders with the goal to kick-off new and even stronger partnerships serving the needs of refugees and developing innovative solutions. Building upon more than 30 successful transfer cases in 2017, Kiron aimed to share its own experiences and improve its support infrastructure for facilitating the transfer of students into higher education study programs through synergies jointly created with its partners.
The full program of the workshop day is available here.
After introductory remarks by Kiron’s Director of Education and INTEGRAL+ lead Florian Rampelt, representatives from the Kiron partner universities TU Hamburg, RWTH Aachen, FH Lübeck and HWR Berlin presented past and current projects supporting refugees entering higher education programmes. All talks emphasized the importance of collaboration amongst different stakeholders and showed inspiring examples of good practice not only for the integration of refugees in higher education, but also for the impact that both these developments and the collaboration with Kiron can have on the strategic developments at higher education institutions. These talks were accompanied by an external keynote speech by Peter van der Hijden who presented major insights from the latest policy paper „Bologna Digital“, written together with Kiron’s Florian Rampelt, Ronny Röwert and Renata Suter and the education expert Dominic Orr.
One major highlight of the day were the short interventions of Kiron alumni reflecting on their individual and successful pathways into German university study programmes. One common pattern throughout these various input presentations of the first half of the day was the crucial importance of German language learning and the patience necessary for overcoming all barriers. Additionally, it became clear that digital solutions offer new options and pathways but always need to be linked to offline services and support ecosystems, provided either by universities or by Kiron itself (e.g. offline study weekends). The first part of the day concluded with a summary and a number of guiding questions for the stakeholders framed from a governmental perspective by Peter Hassenbach, who is Head of Division “International Exchanges in Higher Education, Internationalization” at the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research and is responsible for the INTEGRAL+ project within the ministry.
The second part of the event followed with different parallel workshops examining the issue of successful integration of refugees into higher education from a broader perspective. Florian Rampelt presented insights from Kiron’s qualitative and quantitative research on transfer processes and case studies from Kiron alumni since 2016. Representatives from uni-assist, a central admission provider for international student applications, presented their programme for refugees to apply to HEIs without charge, including pathways for refugees without documentation of their qualifications. Another workshop hosted by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) focused on the question concerning which digital tools and offers exist in German for the academic integration of refugees and explored the conditions under which such offers can have a positive impact. Finally, Kiron was pleased to welcome Einar Meier, the representative of the Norwegian Agency for Quality Assurance in Education (NOKUT) who introduced the European Qualifications Passport for Refugees and the Erasmus+ project REACT that will facilitate further use of the tool amongst universities in Europe. The project will include Germany as a focus country and Kiron as a partner in the REACT steering committee.
The exceptionally interactive and productive workshop day was closed by Kiron’s CEO, Dr. Tobias Ernst, who emphasized the importance of close, innovative and sustainable collaboration for a joint effort in opening up higher education to disadvantaged groups.
The event has been hosted as part of the project INTEGRAL+, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research. The project INTEGRAL+ – Integration and Participation of Refugees in the Context of Digital Teaching and Learning Scenarios through Personalization and Scaling – is based on project results of INTEGRAL² and focuses on a balance between personalized strategies and scalable solutions to give refugees access to higher education. The project develops universal digital solutions that are based on sustainable innovations. To achieve this, the project researches three major fields of action, encompassing ten working packages together with the RWTH Aachen University and University of Applied Sciences Lübeck.