Scientific study: Discrimination against refugees in education and housing search

Racism and discrimination make it more difficult for refugees in Germany to find housing and integrate into the labor market. This is the conclusion of a study by political scientists at the University of Tübingen. The team conducted 64 interviews with refugees, authorities, counseling centers, volunteers and trade unions in six regions of Germany. In the interviews, people repeatedly reported experiences of racism with governmental authorities, vocational schools, companies or when looking for housing, creating immense stress in those affected

The interviewees mentioned derogatory remarks, verbal abuse and exclusion, and even outright confrontations. According to author Nikolai Huke, such experiences in vocational schools can cause psychosomatic complaints and the abandonment of training. Conflicts between employees occur in companies, he said. “In some cases, those affected by discrimination were fired, while those who made racist comments did not have to fear sanctions,” he added. “With governmental authorities, prejudice and lack of language skills repeatedly made it difficult for refugees to access support services and made them dependent on external support (e.g., volunteers).” Refugees also had a particularly hard time finding housing and often had to live in refugee shelters longer than necessary.

As countermeasures, the study proposes, among other things, the establishment of professional anti-discrimination and legal counseling centers throughout the country and the promotion of volunteer support for refugees in everyday life. In addition, public authorities and vocational schools should be sensitized to this issue.

The study “At the bottom of the hierarchy: Racism as a Labor Market Obstacle for Refugees” is available as a free download at It is part of the joint project “Welcome Culture and Democracy in Germany”, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. It is published in cooperation with the Pro Asyl initiative and the IG Metall trade union (Migration and Participation Department).


Dieser bunten Mehrfamilien-Häuser stehen in Tübingen in Baden-Württemberg. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL / Mostafa Elyasian.

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