Every child in Germany has the right and the obligation to go to school. This applies to the children of refugees and to children without papers, as well. There is no charge for going to school.

Many careers require additional education. You can get this at a college or university after you graduate from high school. Alternatively, you can learn a job through an apprenticeship (Ausbildung).

School

In Hamburg, children over the age of 6 go to a Grundschule (primary school). After 4 years, pupils change to a secondary school (weiterführende Schule): a Gymnasium or a Stadtteilschule. In a Stadtteilschule, students take the “Abitur” (A levels: entrance qualification for higher education) after 9 years. At a Gymnasium, students take this exam after 8 years. In both secondary schools (weiterführende Schulen), pupils can obtain the “ersten allgemeinbildenden Schulabschluss” (general education school leaving certificate) after the 9th grade, and the “mittleren Schulabschluss” (intermediate school leaving certificate, qualification for an apprenticeship) after the 10th grade.

At the schools, children who cannot speak German yet generally attend international classes („Internationale Vorbereitungsklassen“ or „Basisklassen“) first. Here they receive specialised teaching and take German lessons. You can find more information in German and English here: https://welcome.hamburg.de/schule/7041194/sprachkenntnisse/, https://www.hamburg.com/welcome/living/school/11864938/language-skills/

In order for your child to be put into the right class, please seek advice first:

You can find a manual on the school system in Hamburg here (German and English): https://www.hamburg.com/contentblob/11701412/cc3437464ee3026c60bd33d18dfa2bd7/data/understanding-school-in-hamburg.pdf

Further information on schools in Hamburg:

www.hamburg.de/schule/

www.hamburg.de/bsb/elterninfo

You can find a podcast with the latest information on schools for parents in Hamburg here (German, English, Arabic, Farsi, Kurmanji): www.li.hamburg.de/skm/podcasts

You can get help with school registration and further advice here:

If your children need a computer, laptop or accessories, you can receive support for this. You can find further information here: https://we-inform.de/portal/en/financial-support/

Recognition of your school certificates

In order to go to a Stadtteilschule or a Gymnasium, you must have your school certificates recognised. In order to attend a higher education institution, you need to have your school leaving certificate recognised.

  • Schulinformationszentrum (SIZ) (school information centre): Hamburger Straße 125a, schulinformationszentrum@bsb.hamburg.de, +49 40 428 99 22 11 (Tuesday 2 pm – 4 pm, Wednesday and Thursday 10 am – 12 pm (noon)), www.hamburg.de/bsb/siz
  • Diakonisches Werk Hamburg: Zentrale Anlaufstelle Anerkennung (ZAA)
  • If you are looking to begin your studies, it is best to contact your preferred higher education institution directly.
Higher Education

Certain careers in Germany require higher education – becoming a teacher or lawyer, for example. The prerequisite for higher education is usually the highest school leaving certificate possible in a country (in Germany, for example, the Abitur). You can usually apply to higher education programmes in January and July.

Another prerequisite for studying is a language level of C1 in German.

You can find information on studying in Germany here: https://www.study-in-germany.de/fluechtlinge/

An overview of the application process:

  1. Application to a university
    Studying in Hamburg
    There are more than 20 universities in Hamburg (www.metropolregion.hamburg.de/hochschulen/272070/hochschulen-hamburg/). The three largest are the Universität Hamburg (University of Hamburg) (UHH, www.uni-hamburg.de), the Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften Hamburg (Hamburg University of Applied Sciences) (HAW, www.haw-hamburg.de) and the Technische Universität Hamburg (Hamburg University of Technology) (TUHH, www.tuhh.de)
  1. Recognition of university entrance qualifications

If your certificates do not entitle you to study in Germany, you can for example go to a Studienkolleg (take foundation courses) that enables you to obtain a higher education entrance qualification through lessons and an assessment test (Feststellungsprüfung) (www.studienkolleg-hamburg.de/feststellung/).
Tip: In case you do not have any of your certificates, you can prove your qualification in an examination. This happens at the institution where you would like to study (for example at the University of Hamburg, https://www.uni-hamburg.de/campuscenter/bewerbung/international/plausibilitaetspruefung.html).

  1. Proof of German language skills
    Universities in Germany require a German language level of C1.
  • A test can determine if your language level is sufficient to study in German (for example, the TestDaF, TELC).
  • You can apply for financial support for preparatory language courses. Get advice on this from “Bildungsberatung CJD” (see below).
  • You can find more information on how to learn German here: https://we-inform.de/portal/en/learning-german/
Help and support for applying to a university in Hamburg

Bildungsberatung CJD
Advice for people interested in studying (on topics like recognition, planning your time at university, financial support and preparing for your studies through additional education and language courses)
Further information in German: www.cjd-hamburg.de/angebote/bildungsberatung-garantiefonds-hochschule/
Further information in English, Arabic, Farsi and Russian: https://bildungsberatung-gfh.de/wde/ueber-uns/informationen.php

Advice in German, English and Russian. You are welcome to bring an interpreter. Please make an appointment:

Advisory centres for refugees at the universities

  • #UHHhilft – Studienorientierung für Geflüchtete: The University of Hamburg offers an orientation programme specifically for refugees: uhhhilft@uni-hamburg.de, +49 40 42838 4547 (Monday to Thursday 10 am – 12 pm (noon)), Zoom: Meeting-ID: 981 6496 4227, password: 615237 (Monday to Thursday 1 pm – 4 pm), www.uni-hamburg.de/uhhhilft.html
Apprenticeship (Ausbildung)

An apprenticeship (Ausbildung) is an alternative to studying at a university which means you learn a profession or trade. An Abitur is not required. In two to three years, you will learn a trade such as baker, nurse or salesperson through a combination of school and work. The required language level depends on the people responsible for your training.

In order to find out if you are interested in a specific apprenticeship (Ausbildung), an internship (Praktikum) can be helpful.

Adolescents who are between 16 and 18 old and do not have sufficient language skills for an apprenticeship (Ausbildung), can take part in a preparatory course program (Ausbildungsvorbereitung):

Hamburger Institut für Berufliche Bildung, informationszentrum@hibb.hamburg.de,  + 49 40 42863 4236 (Monday and Tuesday 9 am – 5 pm, Wednesday 9 am – 1 pm, Thursday 10 am – 6 pm, Friday 9 am – 1 pm), www.hibb.hamburg.de/bildungsangebote/berufsvorbereitung/berufsvorbereitungsschule/bildungsangebote-fuer-migrantinnen-und-migranten/

More information on an apprenticeship (Ausbildung) and a potential right to stay due to this (in German, English, Arabic, Farsi, Sorani and Tigrinya): www.hamburg.de/yourchance/

You can also find additional information on an apprenticeship (Ausbildung), on internships (Praktikum) and work here: www.we-inform.de/portal/en/work/

Recognition of job qualifications

If you have completed your studies, an apprenticeship (Ausbildung) or a comparable course, you can also get these recognised. Get advice on this from the following institutions:

  • Diakonisches Werk Hamburg: Zentrale Anlaufstelle Anerkennung (ZAA), advice in German, English, Arabic, Farsi, Russian, if needed interpreters for further languages are available. Please make an appointment:

 

You can find further information on advice on recognition here: www.diakonie-hamburg.de/de/visitenkarte/zaa/So-helfen-wir-Ihnen

Further education (Weiterbildung)

If you have already started or completed your studies in your home country, further education can give you additional qualifications for your job search.

Sometimes your job qualification is different than the German qualification although it has a similar name. When you get your qualification recognised it might be evaluated as ‘partly equal’ (“teilweise gleichwertig”). Then, you can participate in a course for adaptation of your qualification (Anpassungsqualifizierung). Afterwards, your qualification is recognised as equal to a German qualification.

Here you can find courses for adaptation of your qualification (Anpassungsqualifizierung) for craftsmanship, the trade and services sector, for physiotherapists, educators and teachers:

 

You can find an overview on courses in Hamburg here:

You can get advice on further education here (in German):

Financing your studies and scholarships

Financing your studies

You can find general information on financing your studies here: www.studierendenwerk-hamburg.de/studienfinanzierung

Information for refugees: www.studierendenwerk-hamburg.de/internationales/studierende-aus-dem-ausland#c9345

Advice on financing your studies for refugees:

Studierendenwerk Hamburg, Beratungszentrum Soziales & Internationales – BeSI, Grindelallee 9, 3. OG, consultation currently via phone and email: besi@studierendenwerk-hamburg.de, +49 40 41902 155 (Monday 12 pm (noon) – 3 pm, Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 am – 12 pm (noon), Wednesday 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm)

Scholarship (Stipendium) 

You need to apply to be able to receive a scholarship. It allows you to (partly) finance your studies or further education.

You can find information on scholarships here: www.stipendiumplus.de/startseite.html

Here you can find a database: www.stipendienlotse.de, also explained in easy language: www.stipendienlotse.de/leichte_sprache.php

The organization ApplicAid helps you find a mentor who supports you with the application for a specific scholarship: www.applicaid.org/mentee

Last Updated: 12.01.2022

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