News Overview 2017

How Can Integration Succeed?

Since 2015, the reception and participation of refugees in the life of communities has dominated the public discourse in Germany more than any other topic. The views of refugees themselves, however, are often absent from the debate. A new study, "How can integration succeed?", focuses entirely on their perspective, providing new insights and recommendations.
Robert Bosch Stiftung | November 2017
Published by the Expert Council of German Foundations on Integration and Migration (SVR) and the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the study entitled “How can integration succeed?” focuses on the point of view of refugees: What is the situation of asylum seekers, and what do they expect from their new life in Germany? For the study, researchers interviewed 62 asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. At the time of the qualitative interviews, the study participants were relatively new arrivals without secure residence status, and who were living in the German states of Bavaria, Lower Saxony, and Saxony, respectively. The findings of the study can be used to derive recommendations for further action to improve the conditions for successfully integrating refugees into German society.

Select findings

One of the key findings of the study was that refugees can also feel at home outside of major urban centers. If the local conditions are right, many of the asylum seekers would prefer to remain in smaller communities. They also prioritized the need for professional qualification, while wishing they could start working as soon as possible. These two aspects may be conflicting at times, and can only be resolved through more flexibly structured offerings. Plus, refugees are grateful for the support provided by volunteers, wishing for personal encounters and contact with people. "Besides a customized approach that allows access to training, work, and language skills, social participation is a core need of asylum seekers and should be given greater priority in the development of integration concepts," according to Dr. Jan Schneider, Head of the SVR’s Research Unit.

As a recommendation to politicians, the researchers advocate the adaptation of conditions to the actual needs: "Germany should reintroduce the admission of family members of people granted subsidiary protection as initially planned, and decide about the refugees’ residence status more quickly," explains Schneider. "On top of that, the same admission and procedural standards should apply to all asylum seekers, especially those with good, medium-term prospects of permanent residence, and asylum procedures should be speeded up. Knowledge about the asylum process and their current status as well as opportunities for social participation give refugees the freedom to act. We should definitely do our best to maintain and promote this ability."

The Study "Wie gelingt Integration? Asylsuchende über ihre Lebenslagen und Teilhabeperspektiven in Deutschland"