Refugee assistance workers counsel some Afghan refugees in the city of Dortmund
Refugee assistance workers counsel some Afghan refugees in the city of Dortmund

Students at a university in Dortmund, Germany, can specialize in social work focused on helping refugees and migrants. InfoMigrants spoke with the academic coordinator, Michael Boße, to find out more about the program.

Since the Winter Semester of 2014/2015, the University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Dortmund, Germany, has offered a specialization in social work with a concentration on poverty and migration. The course of study falls under the university's department of applied social sciences.

Dual Study

The program is classified as "dual study," meaning that it combines theoretical courses with practical, hands-on experience. Students spend half the week attending university courses and spend the other half working in a social work organization.

According to Michel Boße, the program's coordinator, students spend from Monday to  Wednesday morning studying and then from Wednesday afternoon to Friday, they are engaged in the field.

How long is the program?     

Boße said that the program can be completed in eight semesters over at least four years. It consists of 180 units which total 5400 study hours. After completing all the units, the student receives a Bachelor of Arts. The the first graduates will complete the program this summer.

How to apply

Those wishing to pursue this course of study are required to find a part-time job at an educational institution or organization that focuses on poverty, migration or asylum issues. The job must be around 20 hours per week and pay at least €900 ($1075).

In addition, the applicant must prove that they have sufficient German language skills to complete the courses and lectures. According to Boße, proof of language skills entails having one of the following certificates:

1. A certificate from the German examination for entering university, showing completion of the second degree (DSH2).

2. The completion of the TestDaf exam for those learning German as a foreign language with at least 16 credits in all parts of the exam.

3. Certificate from the Telc Deutsch C1 Hochschule exam.

What do students learn?    

According to the university's website, the students learn about topics related to asylum and migration. For example,  there are courses focusing on migration movements to the EU, legal procedures related to migration (such as how to legally work and stay in Germany), as well as the culture and customs of the refugees'countries of origins.

How many students are accepted?

Although this program is relatively new, its popularity among students has increased since the wave of migration into the EU from 2015. In the first two years, the number of applicants was almost equal to the number of study places, but in the most recent intake, there were 80 students competing for 35 places. There are currently 135 students in the program, divided into four groups, Boße said.

The program began a year before the big influx of migrants and refugees to Europe in 2015. It had already been planned by the university, although the situation was not yet critical at that stage. Boße stressed the importance of people being trained to assist refugees and migrants; they aquiring professional skills in service provision and building bridges with those in need.  


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