Excerpt

The overall objective of Studium+M is to increase equality of opportunities in higher education for students with a migration background.

Its targets are to increase aspirations of individuals with a migration background, in particular those who are the first in their families to enter higher education. It also seeks to support students with a migration background in successfully completing their studies.

The project is based on decentralised interventions carried out at local and federal state level by student social services agencies. Student social services agencies in Germany are independent entities supported by students as well as state funding. They are established at local level and provide various forms of support to students, including administering public student financial support, student housing, student canteens and counselling. Student social services agencies from 4 cities, namely Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, Marburg as well as the Federal State of Thuringia participate in the intervention. This represents the grassroots element of the initiative. These student social services agencies are based in 3 federal states.

The intervention is based on pilot projects by these student social services agencies over a period of three years (2015-2018) that seek to raise awareness of the situation of students with a migration background in higher education in Germany, assess and address obstacles for individuals with a migration background to enter higher education and seek to improve their aspirations and access to higher education.

Narrative, origins and objectives of the initiative

What kind of project is this? Please give a short description (summary) of it.

The overall objective of Studium+M is to increase equality of opportunities in higher education for students with a migration background.

Its targets are to increase aspirations of individuals with a migration background, in particular those who are the first in their families to enter higher education. It also seeks to support students with a migration background in successfully completing their studies.

The project is based on decentralised interventions carried out at local and federal state level by student social services agencies. Student social services agencies in Germany are independent entities supported by students as well as state funding. They are established at local level and provide various forms of support to students, including administering public student financial support, student housing, student canteens and counselling. Student social services agencies from 4 cities, namely Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, Marburg as well as the Federal State of Thuringia participate in the intervention. This represents the grassroots element of the initiative. These student social services agencies are based in 3 federal states.

The intervention is based on pilot projects by these student social services agencies over a period of three years (2015-2018) that seek to raise awareness of the situation of students with a migration background in higher education in Germany, assess and address obstacles for individuals with a migration background to enter higher education and seek to improve their aspirations and access to higher education.

Please tell us why, in general, this project is considered a successful one?

Three factors suggest the success of the project. Firstly, the topic is currently of critical importance in Germany with a strong and increasing negative sentiment against immigration. Hence, the urgency of the topic makes it relevant for those involved and society at large. Secondly, the choice of the participating student social services agencies undertaking the pilot initiatives from the bottom up through an open call of interested local / federal student social services agencies ensures commitment and ownership of the project rather than implementation only at face value. Thirdly, the location of the participating student social services agencies in cities / federal states with above average shares of individuals with a migration background ensures that the pilot initiatives are implemented in areas where the issue of exclusion of individuals with a migration background is more topical and urgent.

And why would you consider it a grass-roots initiative?

As indicated above, the project is based on pilot projects carried out as decentralised interventions. This is done at local and federal state level by student social services agencies that operate independent from the state. It is supported by the Deutsches Studentenwerk, the national student social services agency in Germany. It is financially supported by the Stiftung Mercator, a foundation that focuses on bringing about systemic changes in schools and universities. It supports and develops concepts for integration and social cohesion to reduce the inequality in Germany in terms of attainment of school and university qualifications by individuals with a migrant background.

What challenges needed to be solved in this project?

Is this initiative based on any particular theoretical framework? Which one?

(Appendix) Is your intervention standing on its own or is it a part of a bigger and more holistic approach?

The project is part of a wider initiative to improve access and participation of students with a migration background by the national student social services agency in Germany and financially supported by the foundation Stiftung Mercator.

Stiftung Mercator is based on six centres that reflect the key objectives of the foundation, namely science and humanities, climate change, education, integration, European cooperation and international projects. The main objective of its centre for integration is to achieve equal educational opportunities for people of migrant origin. To achieve this objective, Stiftung Mercator supports projects seeking to reduce educational inequality and achieve integration and social cohesion.

Stiftung Mercator works towards their goal of improving the educational success of people who have reduced and insufficient chances of success in the German education system. In many cases these are people of migrant origin. Stiftung Mercator therefore focuses on bringing about systemic changes in schools and universities by supporting and developing concepts for integration and social cohesion. This is done to reduce the inequality in Germany in terms of attainment of school and university qualifications by individuals with a migrant background by 70% by 2025.

Please describe the group(s) intended as beneficiaries of this initiative

Why has this group (have these groups) been chosen?

Studium+M targets students with a migration background.

This group has been chosen since the student social survey in Germany has consistently shown that individuals with a migration background face considerable difficulties in entering higher education. Nearly one third (27% in 2016) come from families without a higher education background, which is three times higher than among students without a migration background (9% in 2016) (Middendorff et al. 2017). Besides that, students with a migration background have far less financial support from their parents and rely more often on student support and income from employment alongside their studies (Middendorff et al. 2013).

A study by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration initiated by the Stiftung Mercator also highlighted the compounding factors of migration and low socio-economic background on educational opportunities by lowering both opportunities for early participation in education, lower educational outcomes that are intensified throughout the education system coupled with lower aspirations influenced by the lower education background from individuals’ families (SVR 2016). They concluded that individuals from migration backgrounds are twice as disadvantaged and require particular attention that focuses not only on their migration background, but also seeks to mitigate their socio-economic and educational disadvantages.

Middendorff, E., Apolinarski, B., Poskowsky, J., Kandulla, M. & Netz, N. (2013): Die wirtschafliche und soziale Lage der Studierenden in Deutschland 2012. 20. Sozialerhebung des Deutschen Studentenwerks durchgeführt durch das HIS-Institut für Hochschulforschung, accessible online at: https://www.studentenwerke.de/sites/default/files/01_20-SE-Hauptbericht.pdf.

Middendorff, E., Apolinarski, B., Becker, K., Bornkessel, P., Brandt, T., Heißenberg, S. & Poskowsky, J. (2017). The Economic and Social Situation of Students in Germany 2016. Summary of the 21st Social Survey of Deutsches Studentenwerk, conducted by the German Centre for Higher Education Research and Science Studies. Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Berlin, accessible online at: http://www.sozialerhebung.de/download/21/Soz21_zusammenfassung_englisch.pdf.

Sachverständigenrat deutscher Stiftungen für Integration und Migration (SVR) (2016): Doubly Disadvantaged? Children and Young People with a Migration Background in the German Education System, Summary, May 2016, accessible online at: https://www.stiftung-mercator.de/media/downloads/3_Publikationen/SVR_Doubly_Disadvantaged_EN_Summary_2016.pdf

Could you please tell us something about the relative size of the (of each) target group, within the school/university population, region and/or country?

The labour force survey in Germany in 2016 identified individuals with a migration background as those who themselves, or at least one of their parents, did not hold the German nationality at birth. They may be foreigners that migrated to or resided in Germany, individuals having obtained German nationality that migrated to or resided in Germany, ethnic Germans that resettled in Germany or German nationals that are born to any of the three former groups. The data from the labour force survey indicates that the share of individuals matching this definition has increased in the past decade from 18.6% in 2005 to 22.5% in 2016. Data from 2016 shows that the share is higher among younger age cohorts, namely 30.3% among 15-20 year-olds, 27.9% among 20-25 year-olds and 28.1% among 25-35 year-olds (Destatis 2017). This further raises the importance of addressing issues of access, retention and completion of higher education among students with a migration background.

The data also indicates that individuals with migration backgrounds more often reside in Western Germany, particularly North-Rhine Westphalia (27.2%), Hesse (30.2%) and Baden-Wuerttemberg (29.7%), and in large city states, such as Berlin (28.0%), Hamburg (30.0%) or Bremen (30.5%). These places record shares of individuals with migration background of 24% or more (see Fig. 1). This indicates the importance of focusing initiatives to increase participation of individuals with a migration background particularly in these regions.

Fig. 1: Share of individuals with a migration background 2016

The German student social survey conducted for the National Student Social Services Agency indicates that, in 2016, 20% of students in Germany reported some form of migration background. Out of these students 69% held German nationality, 19% held a foreign nationality and 12% held a German nationality alongside a foreign nationality. Moreover, 71% were born in Germany and 29% were born outside of Germany (Middendorff et al. 2017). This goes to show that the share of second and third generation migrants and ethnic Germans that are late repatriates/re-settlers of former German territories is quite high.

Students who acquired German nationality, or who attained their entry qualification into higher education in Germany, most often report a migration background from Turkey (37% and 17% respectively). Students, who are German late repatriates / re-settlers or their children, most often report a migration background from Poland (24%), the Russian Federation (21%) or Kazakhstan (20%) (ibid).

It is important to note that there are considerable differences in the education background of students with migration backgrounds in Germany. Students with migrant background who acquired German nationality, or who attained their entry qualification into higher education in Germany, most of which were found above to have a migration background from Turkey, more often have parents with a low education background (35% and 47% respectively) compared to all students with a migration background (27%) and students without a migration background (9%). In comparison, only 9% of students who are German late repatriates / re-settlers or their children, have parents with a low education background. Students with a migration background are therefore not uniformly disadvantaged in terms of the education background of their parents. That calls for targeted support, particularly of students who are second and third generation migrants, the largest proportion of which appears to have roots in Turkey.

Destatis (2017): Bevölkerung und Erwerbstätigkeit. Bevölkerung mit Migrationshintergrund. Ergebnisses des Mikrozensus 2016. Fachserie 1, Reihe 2.2, 1 August 2017, available online at: https://www.destatis.de/DE/Publikationen/Thematisch/Bevoelkerung/MigrationIntegration/Migrationshintergrund.html.

Which social characteristics are taken into account and what is the geographical area covered?

The characteristics taken into account are the migration and social background of the students. The geographical area covered is the local level (for the pilot projects carried out by the Student social services agencies of the cities of Cologne, Bonn, Marburg and Darmstadt) and the federal state level (for the pilot projects carried out by the Student social services agency of the Federal state of Thuringia).

On which level is the project implemented?

The project is implemented at local and federal state level. It is implemented by Student social services agencies in the cities of the higher education institutions and at federal state level in Thuringia. Its target audience are the individuals or students with migration background themselves. So the focus is not on staff, curricula or the management of higher education institutions, but the on the individual.

Please describe the political and socio-economic factors that you believe have been important enablers for your initiative

Did the initiative have political support?

The recent influx of refugees arising from the conflict in Syria has surely raised awareness of the issue of immigration in Germany. However, this may not have been an explicit support for the project, but just political context. The project has not received public financial support, but is jointly supported by the German Student Social Services Agency and Stiftung Mercator.

How did it fit with local, regional or national policies?

The political context as evidenced by election results appears to suggest a public sentiment against immigration in general. This, however, makes the project all the more important. Not only in terms of supporting individuals with a migration background (given that their overall share of the population is increasing) but also to decrease the negative sentiment towards immigration in general.

Who are the stakeholders supporting the initiative?

The project is implemented at local and federal state level by Student social services agencies in cities of higher education institutions with a particularly high share of individuals with a migration background (see section above on relative size of the target group in the total population) and at federal state level in Thuringia. It is also financially supported by the foundation Stiftung Mercator.

Are there particular demographic changes present that are influencing the project?

The data from the labour force survey in Germany indicates a consistent increase in the share of individuals with a migration background in the total population. Increases recorded in recent years may be influenced by the influx of refugees arising from the conflict in Syria.

What is the institutional strategy and culture of the (educational) organization?

The mission of Student social services agencies is to support students in pursuing and completing their studies through a variety of services, such as administration of public financial student support, student housing, student canteens and counselling services, including for students with children, with disabilities, foreign students / students with a migration background, psycho-social support etc. With this mission in mind, the project fits seamlessly into the overall objectives of the Student social services agencies.

Stiftung Mercator works towards their goal of improving the educational success of people who have demonstrably reduced and insufficient chances of success in the German education system. In many cases these are people of migrant origin. Stiftung Mercator therefore focuses on bringing about systemic changes in schools and universities by supporting and developing concepts for integration and social cohesion to reduce the inequality in Germany in terms of attainment of school and university qualifications by individuals with a migrant background by 70% by 2025. It is, therefore, consistent that the foundation supported the project financially.

To what extent does the initiative have an influence on institutional policy (or potential influence) of the (educational) organization?

(Appendix) Is there public support for your initiative and the issue it addresses?

Student Social Services Agencies are supported in part by the state and in part by student contributions. Hence, the project has been supported by funding from Stiftung Mercator, mainly from the state and students’ contributions.

(Appendix) What other factors do you think have been important for the success of this initiative?

The total budget made available by Stiftung Mercator for the overall initiative was 1.400.000 Euro. All 58 Student Social Service Agencies were invited to apply for this budget and the best five pilot projects were supported with a maximum allocation per pilot project of 216,000 Euro. This approach appears promising in terms of ensuring ownership and commitment to the project from the bottom up, rather than being imposed on local student social service agencies from the top down.

Please describe the overall initiative design and the methods and tools used to reach the goals

Please describe the specific activities carried out.

The five participating student social service agencies carry out different pilot projects - depending on the needs of individuals from migration backgrounds in their respective catchment areas. Initiatives include:

- Workshops / events targeted at schools, students with a migration background and parents organised by Student Social Services Agencies to address issues of discrimination in general, obstacles faced by students with a migration background and discuss ways to address them.

- Grouping, tailoring and promoting existing services of the Student Social Services Agencies to individuals with a migration background, e.g. public student support, housing, canteens and counselling.

- Ambassadors / Tutors that are also students with a migration background and support the information dissemination in the workshops / talks in schools and can be contacted by individuals to get personal guidance and inspiration.

- Inspirational videos from Ambassadors explaining their pathway to higher education, obstacles they faced and how they overcame them.

- Research on the plans of students to continue in higher education as empirical basis for further action (Grimm & Fuchs, no date).

- Research on obstacles faced and factors for success by students with a migration background during higher education as empirical basis for further action (Fuchs & Lupu, no date).

Various initiatives by the participating Student Social Services Agencies are documented and disseminated through the Studium+M Blog. This allowed for anyone interested to follow the work / successes of the different initiatives and encourage replication. It also gave more visibility to the concerns / obstacles faced by individuals with a migration background in higher education.

What were the key roles (teacher, student, management team etc.) within the project?

In some of the pilot projects students with a migration background serve as ambassadors for others that haven’t entered higher education yet. Their personal experiences can guide and encourage others to pursue higher education, get insights into the obstacles and learn how to tackle them.

What ideas, tools, theories, models, methodology (etc.) have been used to reach the goals?

What are the final revenues of the project?

Please describe if your project ensured its sustainability

If so, how did you ensure the short-term impact of the project?

The five student social service agencies applied for and were chosen as the best five pilot projects supported with a maximum allocation of 216,000 Euro per pilot project. This approach appears promising in terms of ensuring ownership and commitment to the project from the bottom up, rather than being imposed on local student social service agencies from the top down.

It is also promising that four out of five Student Social Services Agencies participating in the project are based in regions with a particularly high share of individuals with a migration background, namely in North-Rhine Westphalia (27.2%) and Hesse (30.2%). This shows the commitment of the Student Social Services Agencies in areas with a particularly high share of individuals with a migration background to foster an inclusive higher education system.

And how did you ensure the long-term impact of the project?

Has your project been replicated elsewhere?

The project has not yet been replicated elsewhere. However, the German Student Social Services Agency at national level intended the project as a number of pilot projects, whereby the different local student social services agencies taking part in the project test out various initiatives at local level and evaluate their success, so that they may serve as good practice for all other 58 student social services agencies in the country.

Please tell us about the resources used in this initiative

What was the budget for the initiative?

The project was undertaken jointly by the German Student Social Services Agency with financial support from Stiftung Mercator, which seeks to improve the chances of those who are disadvantaged and currently excluded in education.

The total budget made available by Stiftung Mercator for the overall initiative was 1.400.000 Euro. All 58 student social service agencies were invited to apply for this budget. The intention was to support the best five pilot projects with a maximum allocation of 216,000 Euro per pilot project.

How much did the initiative depend on volunteers?

The initiative included students with a migration background who already entered higher education to serve as ambassadors for those who haven’t entered yet.

How were the costs perceived by the public/the sector/other stakeholders?

To what extent did the initiative achieve its objectives?

Please describe the evidence to support the success of your initiative.

The project has only recently been implemented so the evidence of success is still limited.

That being said the final conference of the project on 5 June 2018 highlighted the following key findings and recommendations for future action:

- The project suggests that the reason why individuals with a migration background less often decide on undertaking studies in higher education despite a high interest in doing so is due to a lack of information both about studies in general and funding opportunities. The project suggests that close collaboration with schools and the participation of student social services agencies as providers of various forms of support and counselling could be useful in overcoming this information deficit.

- The project also confirms the importance of peers as a source of information and motivation for individuals with a migration background. This highlights the importance of including them in initiatives aimed at increasing participation of individuals with a migration background in higher education.

- The project has confirmed that individuals with a migration background often face more significant disadvantages in terms of socio-economic background compared to students without a migration background. This stresses the relevance and importance of the various services provided by the student social services agencies for them, namely public student support, student housing, canteens and counselling. These various services should be promoted more actively towards individuals and students with a migration background in order to support them to enter and successfully complete their studies.

See the press release of the final conference of the project: https://www.studentenwerke.de/de/content/%E2%80%9Estudiumm%E2%80%9C-mehr-chancengleichheit-f%C3%BCr

Did the intervention lead to any unintended (positive) outcomes?

What indicators (quantitative and qualitative) have you measured to demonstrate success?

(Appendix) How did you evaluate/monitor this intervention?