Studying in Germany for free as a refugee student

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Get your admission to a Germany university as a refugee student. Read now to know everything about studying in Germany as a refugee student.

Study in Germany for free as a refugee student

If you’re a refugee who’s just landed in Germany, here’s some excellent news for you. Like several international students pursuing degrees from various German universities, you too can complete your higher education in a Germany university if you’ve been granted the “refugee” status, received asylum, or if your application is still under process.

With the refugee status to your name, you can easily get admission in several universities in Germany. The admission procedure is the same as that followed by international students who wish to pursue their higher studies from Germany.

Different study levels and higher education institutes in Germany

In Germany, there are three main types of institutes for higher education – Universities, University of Applied Sciences, and Colleges of Art, Film, and Music. The first two are publicly funded and do not charge a tuition fee. However, the colleges are more expensive as most of them are privately owned. 

There are three different study levels of higher education in Germany. These include:

  1. Undergraduate degree or bachelor’s degree – for students passing school and entering university
  2. Graduate degree or master’s degree – for students with a bachelor’s degree
  3. Postgraduate degree or doctorate – for students with a master’s degree

Now let’s look at the different degrees that are available for you along with the semester duration details:

Bachelor’s degree (B Sc., BA, BSEng)

3 to 4 years courses
6 to 8 semesters
Provides 180-240 ECTS credits

Master’s degree (M Sc., MA, MEng)

1 to 2 years courses
2 to 4 semesters
Provides 60-120 ECTS credits

Doctorate degree

Completed alongside the research work 

4 to 10 semesters

Study programs for higher education in Germany

You will be delighted to know that there are 1784 international study programs for which you can enroll if you wish to pursue higher studies from Germany. Some of the German universities also offer free of cost courses for dedicated to students with refugee status or those seeking asylum.

Admission criteria of the university for refugees

The university admission criteria for refugees is the same as that for international students. To view complete details of documents required to be submitted for admission in a German university as a refugee read our article about the German higher education entrance qualification

Proof of proficiency in the German or English language
Majority of the study programs in German universities use the German language for teaching. However, there are few universities which offer study programs for international students in English language or a mix of German and English language.

Proof of GMAT Score

Some universities might demand proof of your GMAT (Graduation Management Admission Test) score showing that you have passed the exam. This is mostly relevant in case of an MBA study program.

Proof of coverage by Health Insurance

As an applicant, you must be ready with a proof of the health insurance coverage for the duration of your studies. The two types of health insurances in Germany are private and public, and several companies in Germany provide both types of insurances.

Some of the companies offering public health insurance are Barmer GEK, KKH – Kaufmännische Krankenkasse, AOK Baden Württemberg, DAK – Gesundheit, and TK – Techniker Krankenkasse.

Click here for more information on Health Insurance for international students and refugees in Germany.  

Proof of GRE scores

Proof of GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is a must-have for admission in some of the business schools and graduate programs in Germany.

Proof of your refugee status in Germany

To get admission in a university study program of your choice, you must present proof of your refugee status in Germany. For more information on this, visit the official website of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees.

Copy of passport

You will be required to submit a copy of your valid passport.

Passport photographs

You will be required to submit your passport photos for your identification and the university’s ID card.

CV or Curriculum Vitae

Some German universities also ask for your CV which contains important information such as details about your awards and achievements, your work experience, and personal details. However, please ensure that the information is structured in a way which adheres to the European “Europass” format. 

Motivation letter

In some German universities, as a refugee, you will be required to present a letter of motivation or a cover letter along with your CV or even without it. This letter will showcase your intent of applying to the program and your motivation to pursue it. In the same letter, you will be expected to mention your work experience, skills, and educational qualifications related to the study program you are applying for. Don’t copy your friend’s letter of motivation; it is not a good idea. Your letter must be authentic, original, and must contain a summary of your objectives and how the specific study program can help you in your career. 

Letter of recommendation

Some German universities might ask you to provide a recommendation letter from one of your professors or mentors from your previous university.

An essay

Some German universities might ask you to submit an essay based on why you want to apply for a study program and how it can help you achieve your career goals, professional and personal. 

Application deadline

Another very important aspect of a successful university application is the application deadline. If by any chance, you fail to meet the application deadline, your application will be rejected there and then. It will not be honored. Therefore, ensure that you make a list of deadlines for all your applications and abide by them. Complete your application well before time. Do not sit on it till the last moment

Filing the application at the university

Depending on the German university you are applying to and the study program you are applying for, the application submission process might vary. 

Since the number of candidates applying to German universities is more than the number of seats available for student, Germany has applied rules and restrictions to the admission process. This restriction is known as “Numerus Clausus.” 

There are two types of Numerus Clausus:

  1. Local Numerus Clausus (for specific German universities)
  2. Zentraler or Central Numerus Clausus (for all German universities)

Based on the type of Numerus Clausus applied to the study program of your choice and your country of origin, there are 3 ways you can submit the admission application. These include:

  1. Submitting the application to the university directly
  2. Uni-Assist where a fee of 75 Euros is applicable 
  3. Stiftung für Hochschulzulassung or the Trust for admission to higher education – no application fee

Reminder: Be informed that most of the colleges use the subsequent deadlines to educate applicants on the admission or denial. In case of the winter semester, the approval letters are typically sent out between August-September and rejection letters are sent out between September-October. On the other hand, for the summer semester, the approval letters are sent out between February-March and rejection letters are sent out between March-April. However, if you don’t get any information throughout this period, then drafting an email to demand information on your application is a requirement.

Getting enrolled at the university

Once your application is accepted, the next step is getting enrolled at the German university or “matriculated” in the studies. The complete process consists of involves getting your courses registered to begin the academic lectures and sit for the examinations. 

As a refugee student enrolling in a German university, you’ll be happy to read the next few lines!

German universities have arranged special courses for refugee students to make them feel welcomed to this new world. These include:

  • Trial courses
  • Orientation courses
  • Guest auditing courses
  • Transitional courses
  • Various supplementary courses

University support centers for refugees

Apart from imparting education to refugee students, German universities also provide counselling support for international, refugee, and local students. This counseling support caters to different subjects such as accommodation, living costs, legalities of residing in Germany, employment, etc. 

The university support center at the International Office of the university is also known as Akademisches  Auslandsamt. If you are a refugee student, confused about any study related or personal issue, you can get in touch with the support center. 

Germany has also opened “Refugee Law Clinics” to support refugee students in German universities. Apart from the university support center for refugees, you can also seek help from the Refugee Law Clinics regarding a variety of issues such as legal help, university-related help, financial help, etc. 

German Refugee Law Clinics are operating in the following cities:

  • Regensburg
  • Leipzig
  • Cologne
  • Berlin
  • Munich
  • Saarbruecken

Soliciting refugee funds

As per Section 8, Paragraph No. 1 and 2 of the Federal Law of Support Education, refugee students are entitled to apply for soliciting funds from the BAfoG funds for refugees. The allowed annual fund amount is 4800 Euros.


As a refugee student, you might feel lost during the admission process. However, if you adhere to the information mentioned in the article, you’ll be fine. German universities have special support cells for refugee students. So, once your application is accepted, you can get in touch with them with all your queries. Mark the application deadlines in your calendar and file the applications well before time. As you must have heard before, haste creates waste. So, don’t haste! Complete your application carefully and submit it at least a week before the deadline. Once you’ve submitted the application, don’t panic and follow-up with the university every now and then. You’ll be notified as soon as our application is accepted.

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