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Semester Fee Scholarships for First-year Students: Report on First Year of Allocation in 2015

1. The Idea

When more diversity in higher education is discussed, the issue of equal opportunities comes into focus: Pupils with an immigrant background or from non-university families should be more often encouraged to take up university studies.

For the last few years, the social counselors of the Studentenwerk Hannover have observed both in the counselling of prospective students as well as during school events on study financing that the costs at the beginning of studying (semester fee, home furnishings, etc.) act as a deterrent. In particular, children from families who are receiving social benefits such as unemployment benefit II see few opportunities to cope with these additional burdens.

The Social and International Affairs department thus came up with the idea to support these individuals by taking over the semester fee. The Studentenwerk's Administrative Committee adopted the relevant Allocation Guidelines in November 2014. In order to also take refugees into account who receive benefits under the Asylum Seekers Benefits Act, the guidelines were expanded in June 2015.

2. Allocation Criteria

Prospective students may apply for a scholarship immediately before they register at a university within the jurisdiction of the Studentenwerk Hannover if they have not yet reached the age of 30, are seeking to register at university for the first time and receive neither a scholarship nor an aid from someone else for this purpose.

In addition, applicants must prove that they receive unemployment benefits II, social welfare benefits, basic subsistence benefits or benefits according to the Asylum Seekers' Benefit Act, either for themselves or by living in a household in need (Bedarfsgemeinschaft), or that their parents receive a children’s allowance according to § 6a BKGG for them.

3. Method

Scholarship applications have to be submitted in person at the Social Advice Centre, using the appropriate form and with the necessary documents. In this way, it can be determined immediately if the conditions are met at all, the application is complete or what documents are missing. In addition, during personal counselling, applicants can be informed of additional benefits for themselves and their families, as well as BAföG and other loans and aids for study financing. Prospective students experience the Studentenwerk's social counselors as competent contact persons right from the start.

The semester fee includes contribution fees for the Studentenwerk, the Student Union and administration costs as well as the SemesterCard. In 2015, the semester fee amounted to a sum from € 356 to € 388. It is transferred directly to the university, immediately after the scholarship has been granted.

4. Public Relations

Young people with an university admission are not yet actually going to university. Thus, public relations had to find new ways beyond student communications to inform the relevant groups about the scholarships. Many institutions supported our project: Secondary schools as well as JobCenters in the city and region of Hannover displayed and distributed leaflets, the press wrote about it, and all universities agreed to add information on the scholarships to their admission notifications and on their corresponding web pages for subjects with open admission.

5. The Scholarship Holders

In 2015, 54 semester fee scholarships were awarded. For this purpose, a total amount of € 20 400 were spent. The following table shows the distribution of scholarships according to summer/winter semester and by universities:

Leibniz University Hanover (LUH)13435
Hannover Medical School (MHH)011
University of Veterinary Medicine Hanover, Foundation (TiHo)011
Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media (HMTMH)000
Hochschule Hannover—University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hanover (HsH)51217
Business University of Applied Sciences in Hanover (FHDW)000

Of the 54 scholarship holders, 34 and thus 63 % had an immigrant background, i.e., they or their parents have immigrated to Germany. The majority of scholarship recipients (91 %) received unemployment benefits II, either alone or by living in a household of need. There were isolated numbers of students receiving social welfare benefits, basic subsistence benefits, or children’s allowance according to § 6a BKGG. Only one scholarship went to a student from Syria receiving benefits according to the Asylum Seekers' Benefit Act.

6. Conclusion

The semester fee scholarship has been well received in its first year. The high usage by prospective students with an immigrant background shows that the offer is a great support for this group and helps them to take up studying. In several cases, scholarship holders have expressly thanked the social counselors and have pointed out that only with the scholarship they have been able to start studying. The Studentenwerk will continue to award the semester fee scholarships and expects an even stronger demand in the next year because awareness has grown.




Studentenwerk Hannover
Social and International Affairs Dept.

Lodyweg 1 C
30167 Hannover

Phone +49 511 76-88 919
Phone +49 511 76-88 922
Phone +49 511 76-88 935
Fax +49 511 76-88 927

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