Integration and Participation of Refugees in the Context of Digital Teaching and Learning Scenarios

The global higher education landscape is changing rapidly. Digitalization and internationalization are key drivers of this process and will become increasingly important to education worldwide. Moreover, integrating refugees into the higher education system has emerged as a new policy challenge. A key stakeholder and player in these developments, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), supports Kiron in promoting the use of digital tools in higher education and offering refugees an opportunity to study in Germany.

Download the Final Project Report of all partners here (German only).

Download Kiron’s Final Project Report here (German only)

Here you can find the booklet for the final event in September 2017 (German only).

Federal Ministry of Education and Research

“By supporting Kiron Open Higher Education and its partners RWTH Aachen and the University of Applied Sciences Lübeck, we want to reach several goals: to support talented young people in their preparation for academic studies and their access to a university in Germany. At the same time, we want to support innovative approaches for academic education and modern, digitally-based teaching and basic services for the early stages of higher education. These pilot formats can attract potential students from abroad – not only in the context of refugees”

Cornelia Quennet-Thielen

Secretary of State, Federal Ministry of Education and Research

In September 2016, Kiron launched the pilot research & development project INTEGRAL², which is short for “Integration and Participation of Refugees in the Context of Digital Teaching and Learning Scenarios” (“Integration und Teilhabe von Geflüchteten im Rahmen von digitalen Lehr- und Lernszenarien”), in cooperation with RWTH Aachen University and the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences. As part of this project, the BMBF is providing 2.1 million euros in financial support for our activities over the course of 13 months, allowing Kiron to refine and test its innovative educational model together with its partners.

“This strategic cooperation with our partner universities is an important step in order to expand our digital educational programs. Based on corresponding research, we can offer educational opportunities for as many displaced people as possible. The support of the BMBF is essential for the success of this innovative project and to strengthen its further expansion”

Vincent Zimmer

Co-Founder, Kiron Open Higher Education

Strengthening Kiron’s educational innovations is fundamental to the project. In particular, INTEGRAL² aims to promote the integration of refugees into the higher education system and to identify potential courses of action – both as regards opportunities for digital change and the internationalization of universities in Germany. As a result, our platform can serve as a blueprint for projects that target prospective students from abroad and provide an important impetus for making the German higher education system more accessible to the educationally disadvantaged. In order to reach this goal, we are exploring the possibilities and challenges of digital education, especially as regards transferring from prior learning to accredited study programs.

The project is divided into various work packages assigned to Kiron as well as to our partners RWTH Aachen University and Lübeck University of Applied Sciences. Kiron takes the lead in the project and is responsible for the overall coordination of INTEGRAL².

During the 13 months from September 2016 to September 2017, INTEGRAL² is pursuing the following objectives:


  1. Establishing a network of student advisory services covering topics such as self-assessment and motivation, mentoring and buddy programs, academic counseling and psychological support
  2. Testing, implementing and comparing a range of online learning formats for German as a foreign language
  3. Building smart networks and cooperating with partners to develop examples of good practice, especially in the fields of digital education, blended learning and open educational resources
  4. Refining MOOC (Massive Open Online Course)-based online curricula in the fields of Business & Economics, Engineering, Computer Science and Social Sciences and complementing the Kiron modules with Kiron Direct Academics live tutorials
  5. Improving recognition of online learning and developing suitable examination formats
  6. Ensuring sustainability and transferability through research, quality assurance and knowledge exchange via publications, workshops and conferences

We are working closely together with our two key partners, RWTH Aachen University and the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences, to ensure the success of INTEGRAL². These universities represent the two main types of higher education institutions in Germany: While RWTH Aachen University is a major European educational and research institution that offers a broad range of degree programs, the Lübeck University of Applied Sciences allows students to study in a more practice-oriented, hands-on way and focuses on a few selected study tracks. Since our students have a wide range of educational paths and career goals, they benefit greatly from this diverse selection of partners. Both universities are major producers of MOOCs and play a key role in developing Kiron’s curricula.

In addition to these partners, Kiron is also cooperating with Deutsch-Uni Online (DUO) and the Zentraleinrichtung Moderne Sprachen (ZeMos) of the Leuphana University of Lüneburg to provide online German language classes. Finally, Volunteer Vision is supporting Kiron in the development of e-mentoring programs focused on helping our students study successfully.

Download our mid-term report!


More information about INTEGRAL² is available on our blog. We will share preliminary findings from our research as well as lessons learned from project implementation. If you would like to join the discussion, feel free to comment or contact us!

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