Access to education


Country Report: Access to education Last updated: 05/06/24


Teresa Fachinger, Paula Hoffmeyer-Zlotnik and Marlene Stiller

Persons with refugee status and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection are entitled to take up vocational training as well as school or university education, if they can prove that they have the necessary qualifications. They can also receive support for the costs of living for the duration of training or studies under the same conditions as German citizens. Furthermore, adults with a protection status are entitled to participate in the ‘integration courses’ which in their general form consist of 600 language lesson units and 100 lesson units in an ‘orientation course’ where participants are meant to learn about the legal system as well as history and culture in Germany and about ‘community life’ and ‘values that are important in Germany’.[1] Participants have to cover part of the costs themselves, unless they receive unemployment benefits or social assistance. Next to the general integration courses, there are special courses e. g. courses for women or parents, literacy courses or intensive courses for experienced learners.

According to the updated brief analysis mentioned in Access to the labour market, 33% of persons surveyed (i.e. persons who arrived in Germany as asylum seekers between 2013 and 2019) had attended one of the following educational institutions:[2]

  • Schools, further education: 12%;
  • Vocational training institution: 18%;
  • Universities, colleges: 5%.

As noted above, the study does not distinguish between the protection status (and/or the residence status) of people surveyed, but it can provide an indication to the situation of persons with protection status. More recent data is not available.

Concerning the access to higher education (more extensively discussed, see Access to education) while there have been some improvements, the lack of sufficient language skills, discrimination and the recognition of former degrees, continue to hinder access to higher education for beneficiaries of and applicants for international protection.

For refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, several options are available if they were not able to finish school neither in their country of origin nor in Germany. Some vocational trainings do not require graduation from school. Most of these trainings are two-year trainings which require less theoretical skills. After the completion of the two-years training, there are in many cases career options through further trainings available. Additional support programs designed for young immigrants shall facilitate the search for adequate vocational trainings, support the integration in the labour market and in the vocational training itself and support companies who provide vocational trainings for young immigrants.[3] For example, the ‘orientation program for refugees’ offers a 13 week program in which refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection acquire the language and skillset necessary for the vocational training they wish to start.[4] In 2022, 1,045 people participated in the program.[5] 26% of those completed the program started a vocational training afterwards. There are as well possibilities to complete school education after having dropped out of the regular school system. The exact programs depend on the Federal states. In most states, the successful completion of a vocational training equalises lower school education and additionally daytime or evening schools are available to catch up the school education.[6]

For refugees and beneficiaries of subsidiary protection, the same support structures as for German nationals are available for families with young children. From the age of one year, the state is by law obliged to provide a place in a nursery or kindergarten.[7] However, since the introduction of the obligation the state has been unable to provide enough nursery or kindergarten places. A study from 2023 concludes that there is currently a lack of 430,000 places. For disadvantaged families e.g., refugee families, the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth set up a programme to facilitate access and integration to the German nursery and kindergarten system.[8] The programme includes the dissemination of information on the nursery system and aims to facilitate contact between families and nurseries or kindergartens.




[1] See BAMF, ‘The content and stages of the procedure’, available at:

[2] Herbert, Brücker, Philipp Jaschke, Yuliya Kosyakova & Ehsan Vallizadeh, Entwicklung der Arbeitsmarktintegration seit Ankunft in Deutschland: Erwerbstätigkeit und Löhne von Geflüchteten steigen deutlich, 2023, available in German at:

[3] For an overview: Stark für Ausbildung, Deutschlandweite Programme und Projekte für Junge Geflüchtete, Zuwanderer, Migranten, last access 16 February 2024, available in German at:

[4] Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Vocational orientation – provision for refugees, last access 16 February 2024, available at:

[5] Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BOF-Programm erreicht immer mehr Frauen – Unterstützung auf dem Weg in eine Ausbildung bleibt wichtig, last access 16 Ferauary 2024, available in German at:

[6], Ausbildung ohne Schulabschluss – das sind die Möglichkeiten, last access 16 February 2024, available in German at:

[7] Section 24 (2) Social Code VIII.

[8] Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth, Bundesprogramm “Kita-Einstieg: Brücken bauen in frühe Bildung”, 26 November 2021, available in German at:

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation