Refugee Scholarship Program - Bread for the World  

Contact details 

Submitted by: Monika Spinczyk, Program Officer Refugee Scholarship Program  

Email: [email protected]  


Introduction to the project 




Scholarship Programs have been provided since 2005, and specifically for refugees since 2014. 

The program is currently financed until 2021, and renewal is desirable if additional funding can be secured.  


Vulnerable refugees, who are subject to persecution or violence in their countries of origin, receive a sustainable perspective on education, livelihood, and integration in their host country, with the help of Scholarships for higher education in Germany.

Refugee self-reliance is enhanced through a holistic approach, which includes, first and foremost, vocational formation through the completion of higher education programmes. Furthermore, thanks to psychological support available, possible negative long-term effects such as trauma experienced by the refugees can be addressed, and self-reliance enhanced.  

A higher education degree and psycho-social integration in the host country also enables the scholarship holder to access the labour market. 

Finally, the program also holds the potential to direct highly qualified persons to Germany, which can thereby fill existing gaps of technical experts in various fields.

Refugees and Asylum Seekers in Germany have a viable and lasting livelihood perspective, including a social network, psychological well-being, and legal support. They act as multipliers of democratic, ecumenical, and/or human rights principles.  

Examples from two scholarship holders: 

1. A Cameroonian scholar reported corruption and embezzlement of state funds in a ministry and was jailed for one and a half years without trial. When he was released, he sued for rehabilitation and damages, but received credible death threats. He fled to Germany and studied Environmental Management in a Master's program, finishing his Master's thesis with a grade of 1.3 (Distinction). After completing his scholarship, he completed a traineeship with the Federal Press Office arranged by Bread for the World. He is currently looking for a doctorate position in the field of renewable energies.  

2. A freelance journalist for Iranian newspapers reported several times on the lives of persecuted homosexual and transgender people in Iran. At a meeting, she was arrested, imprisoned, tortured and abused. Before being imprisoned, she managed to escape to Germany. As a single Iranian woman, she was repeatedly exposed to the reprisals of her compatriots in refugee reception centres. She learned German quickly and enthusiastically, and successfully completed her studies in social work after receiving scholarship support. She continues to produce articles and videos, is a member of "Writers in Exile", gives lectures on women's rights in Iran, and now works as a social worker in a Cologne women's shelter and has declared it her personal call to educate Persian women about their rights. 

Project aims

To provide scholarships for higher education to refugees facing persecution or violence in their country of origin.  

Resources used

The cost is approximately €12,500 per Scholarship holder per year, with an average duration of support of three years, on a needs basis. These costs include a monthly allowance payment of between €750 and €850, an annual allowance for university equipment, insurance, and regular seminars and excursions for the participants.

Additional allowances are granted based on need, for example, for family members, psychological assistance, or legal support in the asylum process.

Currently, forty students are funded through the program, and the program is co-funded by German Federal Foreign Office.  

At the moment, the program has to be gradually reduced due to funding limitations. At the same time, there is a new focus on supporting human rights activists from partner organizations of Bread for the World, who are at risk of prosecution. 


Co-funded by Federal Foreign Ministry, Germany  

Challenges and how they were overcome

In case of pending or unclear residence permit status, potential deportation of scholarship holders presented challenges, and trauma and/or psychological long-term effects can emerge during the entire time of support. Challenges were overcome by: 

  • Personal accompaniment by a Bread for the World Program Officer, who can react on short notice and provide support, including referral to legal assistance  

  • Program officers are also especially trained in recognizing symptoms of trauma or other psycho-social hardships, and can refer students to professional psychotherapy  

Results of the Good Practice

With the help of Scholarships for higher education, refugees receive:  

  • Financial support to complete a higher education degree.
  • Social connection with the help of common events, regular one-on one conversation, as well as volunteer supporters and local faith-based networks.
  • Language classes. 
  • Psychological assistance, if needed. 
  • Legal assistance, if needed. 
  • Priority in the selection of scholarship recipients is given to marginalized groups, such as women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, human rights activists, and religious or ethnic minorities.  
  • Scholarship holders receive a public voice, for example during the annual German Church Congress, or in self-organized “democracy workshops” by and for Syrian refugees in Germany.