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Information for refugees

Language development courses, occasional studies, leisure activities: students and teaching staff at Osnabrück University have developed a range of offers and initiatives in a bid to offer practical assistance and support to refugees in and around Osnabrück, giving them a warm welcome.


Language development courses

Student initiatives

Additional university activities

Further initiatives and services in and around Osnabrück

Useful links


Verena Rothmund and Inga Marie Pape

Office hours: Tuesday 10 to 12 am and 3 to 5 pm or by appointment

Advisory body:
Prof. Dr. Christina Noack, FB 7
Prof. Dr. Jochen Oltmer; IMIS
Prof. Dr. Christoph Raß, IMIS
Prof. Dr. Helen Schwenken, IMIS

University Management:
Prof. Dr. Martina Blasberg-Kuhnke,  Vice President for Academic Program Development and Teaching


Studying as a guest auditor

Osnabrueck University offers a special guest auditor program for refugees. Within this program, you may complete courses worth up to ten credit points (ECTS) and also take exams. (This is not the case with the university’s traditional courses for guest auditors, which you may also attend free of charge.) For any exams you pass, proof will be provided so that they can be credited to regular studies pursued at a later date. The program is free of charge.

Regular Studies

Certain admission requirements must be met in order to enroll for regular studies at Osnabrück University. In order to embark on an undergraduate program such as a Bachelor’s degree, for example, applicants must have a qualification for admission to higher education. In order to embark on a Master’s degree, applicants require an academic degree – usually a Bachelor’s degree. They must also have a special aptitude for the program. In addition, language skills - generally German - have to be proved.

Refugees who do not possess any certificates, because they had to flee from their home country, may take an entrance test for the Preparatory Foundation Course in Hannover. Those who pass the test and proves appropriate German language skills can be admitted to the course and will gain a subject-restricted higher education entrance certificate within the space of a year. (Note: There is a huge demand for the course at present, meaning that it will be very difficult to secure a place on the course, even if a candidate passes the test.) If outstanding results are achieved in the entrance exam (at least 85 per cent in the math part) and with appropriate German language skills (at least level C1), refugees may be admitted straight onto a study program with open admissions. In the case of study programs subject to admission restrictions, regular attendance on the Preparatory Foundation Course is mandatory. In addition, German skills (usually language level B1 oder B2) must be proven in all cases, depending on the study program.

Refugees at universities
Information for refugees provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Financing studies with a student grant (BAföG)

BAföG is the term for state aid provided to pupils and students in Germany. The term BAföG is short for Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz (Federal Training Assistance Act). Depending on their financial situation, BAföG recipients receive up to € 670 per month to finance their education. A degree program must usually have been commenced before reaching the age of 30. Half of the BAföG grant amount is paid out in the form of a subsidy, the other half as a non-interest bearing loan..

Refugees can also benefit from financial aid via BAföG:

  • Persons entitled to political asylum and recognized refugees are eligible for benefits in accordance with BAföG (see Refugee Council of Lower Saxony).
  • As of January 1, 2016, persons with exceptional leave to remain (Duldung) and holders of certain humanitarian residence permits can apply for BAföG after just 15 months.

Osnabrück Student Services is responsible for advising on matters concerning BAföG in Osnabrück. Please contact the Department of Student Financing.

Language development courses

Osnabrück University Language Center is currently exploring the option of establishing German courses for refugees with the support of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF)


Marina Root, M.A.
Institut für Germanistik
Room 41/207
Tel.: + 49 541 969 6059

Deutsch as a second language (DAZ)/ German as a foreign language (DAF)

The Institute of German Studies at Osnabrück University’s School of Language and Literary Studies is involved in the Mercator project entitled “UMBRÜCHE GESTALTEN. Language training and acquisition as an integral part of innovative teacher training in Lower Saxony” More information

In close cooperation with the Center for Teacher Education (ZLB), the Institute of German Studies (IfG) prepares students to work as language learning assistants. In this capacity, students help refugee children and adolescents to learn German within and outside the school environment. In particular, students training to become teachers have the possibility to gain an additional qualification, which will enable them to teach classes with an emphasis on language learning in the future. At the same time, the Center for Teacher Education and the Institute of German Studies are in close contact with numerous sponsors of school and extracurricular language development activities. These ties lead, among other things, to regular training opportunities for voluntary language learning facilitators who offer German courses at various levels for refugees in and around Osnabrück. There are plans to introduce further activities in the area of advanced teacher training and to support the university’s occasional studies program in 2016.

Student initiatives

Sports activities

© Universität Osnabrück / Michael Münch

“Sport creates spaces for movement and encounter. During sports and games, refugee children, adolescents and adults are able to put aside their worries for a while. In the broad field of sport, participation can be experienced, and any reservations that both sides may have towards each other – particularly on the part of local residents – can be put to rest.” (Project group’s guiding principle)

The project group “Sport mit Osnabrücker Flüchtlingen” (Sports with Osnabrück’s refugees), comprising students and staff from the Institute of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, organizes games and sports activities for refugee children, adolescents and young adults:

Weekly offers:

  • Games and sports afternoon at the Natruper Holz initial reception center
  • Ball sports with young male refugees at the Natruper Holz initial reception center 
  • Ball sports afternoon with students and adolescent refugees
  • Boulder with young adults
  • Table tennis with young adults
  • Swim with children and women

Occasional offers:

  • A soccer team called “Team Welcome Osnabrück”: the team enables refugees from the initial reception center and the rest of Osnabrück to play alongside local sports students in Osnabrück University League
  • Visits to matches played by the GiroLive Panthers (basketball) and VFL Osnabrück (soccer)
  • Weekend sports activities, such as an exercise area and walks through the woods

Additional activities:

  • Collection of donated sportswear
  • Sponsored run with (sprot-) students
  • Cooperation with organized sport (SSB) and the Coordination Body for Social Work on Refugees
  • Conception of continuing training programs and project consolidation

Conception of continuing training programs and project consolidation.

SmOF - Sport mit Osnabrücker Flüchtlingen, Project group at the Institute of Physical Education and Sport Sciences, Jahnstraße 75, 49080 Osnabrück, smof@uni-osnabrueck.de

Project responsibility:
Ines Weiden und Daniel Wangler

FreiZeit für Flüchtlingskinder (leisure activities for refugee children)

This initiative offers projects and activities to help refugee children join in with leisure activities outside their accommodation, enhancing their self-realization and self-perception. A photo project, a dance workshop and trips to Osnabrück Zoo and the Botanical Garden are just a few examples of the activities undertaken.

Documentary Theater: Asylum Dialogues

Last semester, the “Uni, then what?” initiative of the Master’s program “International Migration and Intercultural Relations (IMIB)” organized asylum dialogues – documentary theater – in Osnabrück. The initiative is run in cooperation with the IMIB Student Representative Committee and with the participation of refugees. Further activities are planned in this context.

Additional activities

Mentoring program “Lichtpaten”

The Muslimische Jugendcommunity Osnabrücker Land (Osnabrück Region Muslim Youth Community, MUJOS e.V.) offers a mentoring program for refugee children in cooperation with “Balu und Du”. Children are assigned a voluntary mentor who meets the child once a week, promoting integration into school and society with fun and leisure activities.

Medical care

The former hospital “Natruper Holz” in Osnabrück has been home to an initial reception center for refugees since the end of 2014. Osnabrück University’s Institute for Interdisciplinary Dermatological Prevention and Rehabilitation (iDerm) is housed in the same building. In consultation with health insurance associations, the head of the institute and dermatologist, Professor Dr. med. Swen Malte John, has assumed responsibility for providing health care to refugees at Natruper Holz.

Further initiatives and services in and around Osnabrück

City of Osnabrück

Numerous initiatives related to refugee work such as integration facilitators, the association Exil e.V. and the Rosenplatz initiative receive generous support and funding from the City of Osnabrück. More information about the topic of integration can be obtained from the City of Osnabrück.

Osnabrück Rural District

Information for refugees

Exil e.V. Osnabrück
Center for Refugees offers low-level language courses and brings refugees into contact with students, who offer individual support. In cooperation with the Philosophy Student Representative Committee at Osnabrück University, a project is being initiated where refugees will be assigned a mentor to help them become acquainted with their new environment.

Amnesty International
The Amnesty International University Group is also committed to the issue of refugees.

Weitblick Osnabrück e.V.
This student initiative advocates fairer access to education throughout the world, hence its commitment to refugees in Osnabrück.

Caritas Osnabrück
One of the services offered by this association is private tuition for refugee children and adolescents, provided mainly by students.

“NoLager” is an umbrella organization comprising various initiatives with a different focus. The main objective is to ensure that refugees are not housed in camps.

Osnabrück integration facilitators
Many such facilitators are students who work with refugees.

Flüchtlingshilfe Rosenplatz (refugee relief)
Neighborhood assistance is provided to refugees with the help of students.

In addition, students from Osnabrück are involved in nationwide initiatives to help accommodate refugees in private households, e.g. in shared flats.

Bündnis gegen Abschiebungen
(Anti-deportation alliance) An association of various groups and individuals in Osnabrück who seek to prevent people from being deported (in particular due to Dublin III regulations).