Freie Universität Berlin set up the Welcome@FUBerlin program five years ago in October 2015 to help refugees in Berlin and Brandenburg to start or continue an interrupted degree program. Each year more than 100 participants take part in the program. Numerous successful graduates of the program have now successfully started a regular degree program, and some have even finished. The program is sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service and the Berlin Senate Administration.
As of March this year, the classes were taking place online. They can now be held in small groups in compliance with the hygiene measures for face-to-face encounters. In addition to the language and preparatory classes, the Welcome@FUBerlin offers a Guest Study Program for Refugees. As part of this program, refugees can take part in regular classes free of charge. If the instructors agree, they can do class work that would later be given credit as part of a degree program. In addition, the Welcome@FUBerlin program offers support from student partners, called buddies, and opportunities for language tandems, free computer courses, and special offers from the University Sports Center.
The Welcome@FUBerlin program is part of an extensive commitment by Freie Universität to support refugee and endangered students and scholars. Freie Universität is a member of the Scholars at Risk network and together with the University of Duisburg-Essen and the Forum Transnational Studies, hosts the Academy in Exile, where researchers who are persecuted in their home countries, either because of their research or their commitment, can continue their academic work. In addition, a nationwide mentoring program, Academics in Solidarity, supports more than 100 refugee and endangered scholars throughout Germany. It provides support for them to resume their academic work and reintegrate them into the academic job market.