International Prestige or the Burden of Charity: A Comparative Investigation of the Perspective of German Higher Education Governance and Administration Actors on (prospective) Refugee Students

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30
Oral Presentation
Jana BERG, Deutsches Zentrum für Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsforschung, Germany
Education is a crucial topic for refugees: It determines their access to the labour market and influences their chances of integration in the host country. In reaction to the strongly increased number of Asylum applications, German higher education institutions (HEI) and preparatory colleges started programs to assist prospective refugee students on their way to and through higher education. If and to what extend such support programs are available and whether (refugee) applicants can enrol, depends largely on the individual HEI.

Within the research project “WeGe – refugees on their way to higher education”, I am working on my dissertation, focussing on whether governance and administration actors understand and position refugees as a part of higher education internationalization and how different positioning in connection with different strategies of integration and internationalization influence the self-perception, aspirations and academic achievement of refugees; also considering the influence of educational background as well as social, economic and cultural capital on the positioning and the academic achievement of refugees.

In this paper, I will first identify specific challenges for refugees on their way to German higher education and the way HEIs address them. After that, I'll reconstruct and compare the perspective of different HEI-members on refugees. The aim is to establish a comparative perspective on various positionings and strategies and to develop a hypothesis on their influence on prospective refugee students. Therefore, I will analyse internationalization concepts as well as access and integration strategies for refugees in addition to qualitative interviews with prospective refugee students and expert interviews with higher education governance actors at different HEIs in Germany. I will relate the results of content analysis to a theoretical framework of organisational and education sociology and forced migration studies and discuss hypotheses on the influence of this positioning on prospective and enrolled refugee students.