Are refugees allowed to study in Germany?
As a basic principle, refugees are allowed to study at a higher education institution, especially if they are recognised refugees, i.e. they have sought asylum or been awarded refugee protection, etc. The same also applies to people who have not yet completed the asylum procedure or who have been granted "exceptional leave to remain" (in German: Duldung) status.
Higher education entrance qualification: How can higher education institutions proceed if proof of the refugee's higher education entrance qualification is incomplete or missing because they lost it when fleeing their home country?
As a rule, the assessment proposals set out by the Central Office for Foreign Education at the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK-ZAB) apply when checking higher education entrance qualifications (link available in German only).
Refugees have the right to be appropriately tested for their eligibility
If a refugee wants to study but is unable to provide any documents, e.g. school certificates or proof of matriculation, their eligibility must still be tested and assessed.
The basis for this is the Lisbon Recognition Convention (the Convention on the Recognition of Qualifications concerning Higher Education in the European Region, Section VII, Article VII), which was signed by 49 European and non-European states. Germany signed it in 2007. According to the Convention, “reasonable steps” must be developed to assess the higher education qualification of refugees, even if this cannot or can only partially be proven through documentary evidence.
Reconstruction of the refugee's study pathway through individual interviews
The specific implementation steps for this are described in the European Recognition Manual. In the proposed procedure, those wanting to study are interviewed to create their individual study pathway. The statements made should be verified using the relevant evidence as far as possible. The higher education institution itself must implement this type of procedure. In addition, eligibility and aptitude tests can provide a basis for testing whether the refugee is qualified for study. Higher education institutions in a number of federal states already apply these or similar procedures.
Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK)
New Decision on admission to higher education for students without documents:
The Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany (KMK) updated the regulation for the federal states dealing with refugee students who are not able fully prove, or provide other relevant evidence, that they are eligible for university admission to study in their home country. A three phase model gives the German higher education institutions to option to proof the educational biography and open access to higher education also for this special group of refugee students.