Higher Education Opportunity for Refugees Living in Germany

Higher Education Opportunity for Refugees[1] Living in Germany

Bard College Berlin is Hosting a Full-Time, 5-Month Preparatory Program for Refugee Students Wishing to Apply for an MA at Central European University, Vienna.

If you have an upper-intermediate (B2) or advanced (C1) level of English, a Bachelors’ level of education and a desire to continue to graduate studies, OLIve-Plus may be for you. We are now accepting applications for the September 2019 to January 2020 cohort.

[1] By refugee, we mean a displaced individual with official protected status in Germany.


The goal of the program is to prepare refugee students in Germany, for MA level studies at Central European University, Vienna. 

The program offers:

  • workshops on how to make a successful university application

  • classes in Academic Writing and Academic Skills

  • a regular Academic Seminar

  • auditing degree level classes at Bard College Berlin

  • preparation for standardized exams in English such as TOEFL

As OLIve-Plus is designed to prepare students for entry to MA studies Central European University, Vienna, please also see the application requirements and the MA degree programs offered before submitting your application.


OLIve-Plus is an intensive, full-time course of study for individuals with refugee status in Germany. The program is funded by Erasmus+, the EU's program to support education, training, youth and sport in Europe, and by the Higher Education Support Program of the Open Society Foundations and implemented at Bard College Berlin.

It builds on the knowledge, expertise, and experience of Central European University, which has been successfully running preparatory programs for students from marginalized backgrounds wishing to apply for MA programs since 2004. Over 120 students have gone on to win full scholarships having graduated from these programs. Since 2016, 12 refugee students have benefited from this scheme by being accepted to MA programs.

OLIve-Plus at Bard College Berlin will run for five months between September 2019 and January 2020 and plans to accept six students with a refugee background in its first cohort. Financial support is available (for further details please see the section below).

OLIve-Plus is a key element of the second Refugee Education Initiatives project (REIs2), funded by the Erasmus+ Program of the EU. The project is dedicated to enhancing the social inclusion of refugees through educational initiatives at the University of East London (UK), The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece), The University of Vienna (Austria), Open Education Ltd in Budapest (Hungary) and now Bard College Berlin (Germany).

Successful graduates of the program will receive a non-degree certificate issued by Bard College Berlin.


Students accepted to the program will have the possibility to apply for a scholarship to contribute towards their living expenses, accommodation, health insurance, travel to and within Berlin, and educational materials. There is no tuition fee associated with this program. Scholarship applications will be assessed based on the financial need of the accepted candidates.


OLIve-Plus accepts students aiming to prepare for Masters programs. The program accepts applications from individuals with:

  • refugee status

  • residency status in Germany

  • an interest in pursuing further MA studies

  • an upper-intermediate (B2) or advanced (C1) level of English

  • a BA degree

Note: If you would like to apply but do not have a copy of your BA university diploma or have completed your BA studies without a final diploma being issued, please send an email with the subject line OLIve-Plus2019_YourLastName to admissions.bcb@refugeeeducationinitiatives.org.

Women candidates who meet the above eligibility criteria are particularly encouraged to apply.


Submit a completed online application form, by Friday, 5 July 2019.

The online application form can be found here (or by clicking the button below): https://forms.gle/jTkw4PiwK1ncQ4wt8

All application materials should be in English. If you do not have translated copies of your degrees, certificates, please upload the original copy together with an unofficial translation to English.

  • Online application form: https://forms.gle/jTkw4PiwK1ncQ4wt8

  • CV (in English) - with details of your academic background and work, volunteering and/or community engagement experience. Please upload the file in the online application form as a PDF. Please name the file YourLastName_CV.

  • Letter of Motivation stating why you would like to participate in this program and describing your academic and professional achievements, as well as interests and goals for the future and how further university study will help you achieve these. You should indicate an interest in one or more of the following subjects: Public Policy, Public Administration, Human Rights, International Business Law, Comparative Constitutional Law, Political Science, International Relations, Philosophy, Gender Studies, Sociology and Social Anthropology, Economics, Economic Policy, Finance, Business Analytics, History, Medieval Studies, Nationalism, and Environmental Sciences and Policy. Visit the CEU degree programs listing page to learn more about their offerings and the unit(s) delivering them.

    Please use this template for the Letter of Motivation. Download the file, fill it in, save it as YourLastName_LetterOfMotivation and upload it in the application form as a PDF file.

  • Two Reference Letters (signed) - at least one reference letter is required (in English), if possible one from someone familiar with your academic experience or skills to date, ideally a former teacher or university lecturer. If you are not able to contact someone familiar with your studies, you can also provide recommendations from a previous employer or supervisor of your volunteering or community engagement work.

    The reference letter(s) needs to be submitted by email directly by the referee(s) to admissions.bcb@refugeeeducationinitiatives.org by the deadline (Friday, 5 July 2019). Please ask your referee(s) to sign the letter, name the file YourLastName_ReferenceLetter and use OLIve-Plus 2019_YourLastName_LetterofMotivation as a subject line.

    If you have copies of other references that might be relevant for this application, you may upload them in the relevant section in the online application form.

  • Diploma and Transcript of Grades - please upload scanned copies or photocopies of your university diploma and a transcript of previous grades from your university studies if you have these available. Please name your files YourLastName_TypeOfDocument.

    Note: If you do not have a copy of your university diploma or transcript or were not issued with a diploma due to reasons related to your protected status, upload a blank document and please contact the following email address for further details: admissions.bcb@refugeeeducationinitiatives.org. Please use as a subject line OLIve-Plus 2019_YourLastName.

  • Proof of English - please upload a scanned copy or a photocopy of any certificates verifying English level (eg. TOEFL, IELTS or national exam). This is optional, so you may still apply without an English certificate. Please name your file YourLastName_English.

Note: your application will not be considered complete unless you submit both the online application form and the required documents.


All applications must be received by Friday, 5 July 2019. Late applications cannot be considered.


(Subject to change)

8 June 2019 – call for applications opens

5 July 2019 – call for applications closes

6-7 July 2019 – review of applications

8 July 2019 – shortlisted candidates are informed by email and invited for interviews

15-16 July 2019 – interviews (only shortlisted candidates)

17 July 2019 – final results (all candidates are informed by email)

22 July 2019 – accepted candidates confirm their place and submit the application for scholarships

31 July 2019 – scholarships confirmed


The program will run from September 2019 to the end of January 2020. This is a full-time program and students are expected to be in Berlin for the duration of the program. Exact start and end dates will be communicated to the accepted students.


Bard College Berlin is a German liberal arts university accredited at the state and federal levels, which offers a multidisciplinary undergraduate education in the humanities and social sciences. It was founded in 1999 as the European College of Liberal Arts. Students at Bard College Berlin join a highly diverse and international student body of 270 students representing 60 countries, with English as the language of instruction. Over 10% of the student body at Bard College Berlin comes from regions of crisis or conflict through the university’s Program in International Education and Social Change.


REIs is an education and advocacy program aiming to increase opportunities to access higher education for people of refugee status.  REIs combines innovative educational programs with advocacy for policy change at the European and national levels.  At the core of REIs’ mission is the commitment to pro-active and innovative solutions to obstacles that impede refugee entry to higher education in Europe. REIs is run across five European countries at the University of Vienna Austria), the University of East London (UK), Central European University (Hungary), Bard College Berlin (Germany), Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (Greece) and at the Open Education Ltd in Budapest (Hungary).


WEBSITE: refugeeeducationinitiatives.org

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/OpenLearningInitiative/

EMAIL: Questions about the application process can be directed to admissions.bcb@refugeeeducationinitiatives.org. Please use this subject line: OLIve-Plus 2019_YourLastName.