University of Göttingen

Linking refugees to the diversity strategy

The University of Göttingen aims at a truly inclusive catch-all strategy, neither discriminating against nor favouring any group of staff or students. Responding to the needs of refugee students is incorporated into their diversity strategy.

Definition of the target group

In general, the University of Göttingen operates a policy of self-identification when it comes to its diversity activities and support services. However, refugees must have the required legal status to benefit from any targeted refugee support.

Target agreements with the State of Lower Saxony

There is no specific diversity or refugee target agreement, but rather targets for women, international students and people with disabilities. These targets apply to all universities in Lower Saxony and have funding implications for the institution.

Activities and services for refugees

The University of Göttingen is engaged in a Refugees Welcome! project, with a dedicated task force. With the help of funding from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the university offers:
  • Special office hours for refugees;
  • A dedicated contact person for refugees;
  • The possibility for refugees to enrol as guest students;
  • German classes, including academic integration classes for scholars and students;
  • Special library offerings;
  • A Scholars at Risk (SAR) office.
In addition, there are many student-led initiatives, such as:
  • ConquerBabel – translation services and German classes;
  • A free Refugee Law Clinic, where student volunteers can be awarded credits;
  • ConnAction – sports offering for refugees.

Monitoring and statistics

Over the past few years, there had been one expert full-time staff member dealing with refugees. Unfortunately, for budgetary reasons, this post was discontinued in April 2021. However, although there may be fewer refugees, those currently enrolled require more assistance.

Challenges and lessons learnt

The University of Göttingen is confident about the philosophy underpinning their diversity strategy, also espoused by the Association of American Colleges and Universities in their Making Excellence Inclusive campaign. To be a well-respected research university, the key to success is focusing on the research-based argument that diverse perspectives are necessary to achieve excellence in research. [1]

Impact of Covid-19 on the institution’s diversity activities

The university’s learning strategy is based on a capabilities approach whereby digitisation, internationalisation and diversity are necessary to make enhanced research courses. However, Covid-19 shone a light on accessibility and inclusion when it comes to digital learning and teaching technologies, and has underlined the importance of removing all barriers to such technologies, including for refugees. [1] Andrea D. Bührmann, The Reflexive Diversity Research Programme. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2021.