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Educational Trajectories of Refugee Children and Adolescents




The aim of the study "Educational Trajectories of Refugee Children and Adolescents" is to describe, with a longer-term perspective, the educational trajectories of newly immigrated refugee children and adolescents and to investigate which factors promote or impede the integration of refugees into the German educational system and their transition to the labor market. In addition to regional and institutional factors, the acquisition of German language skills can also play a role. Furthermore, previous educational pathways and experiences in the educational system are important, which might have an influence on further educational and career paths.

The study sheds light on important transitions in the educational and professional biographies of refugee children and adolescents. First, the transition from elementary school to lower secondary education is examined in more detail. This is important because origin-specific educational inequalities can already arise here. Several questions are important in connection with this transition, such as: Can children complete elementary school in the standard duration? To which type of school do young refugees transfer after elementary school and which individual and family-related factors influence educational decisions at the transition to lower secondary school?

Second, the transition from lower secondary education to upper secondary education will be examined in more detail. In the further course, the data of the study will be used to examine the extent to which the chosen (educational) programs are successfully completed. Central questions are: What school-leaving qualifications are acquired and what further educational qualifications are aspired to? How successfully can young refugees complete vocational preparation programs and how well are various support measures suited for preparing young refugees for vocational training? Can the chosen vocational training programs be successfully completed and how is the transition to the labor market like? Do young refugees succeed in taking up studies at a university (of applied sciences) after acquiring a university entrance qualification, or are other educational trajectories in the focus?



The increase in immigration of refugees in recent years, especially between 2014 and 2019, continues to challenge integration policy for the Federal Republic of Germany. Due to the high proportion of young refugees, the educational system is of particular importance for the medium- and long-term integration of refugee children, adolescents, and their families. Access to preschool institutions and school education, but also to vocational education and training and tertiary education, have an impact not only on the transition to the labor market and career paths, but also on social participation.

Scientific studies have increasingly focused on the educational participation of refugees, among them also the study „ReGES – Refugees in the German Educational System“. The new study "Educational Trajectories of Refugee Children and Adolescents" builds on the ReGES sample and continues the longitudinal survey of the educational trajectories of young refugees. While the ReGES Data focus on the transition from day care facilities to elementary school and the educational trajectories within lower secondary education, the new study aims to examine other important transitions in the educational pathways of refugee children and adolescents.



Who is surveyed?

The goal of the study „Educational Trajectories of Refugee Children and Adolescents“ is to continue to accompany the educational trajectories of the two cohorts of the previous study ReGES, who are each at important transitions in their educational trajectories at the time the first survey wave. In total, approximately 1,200 parents of elementary school children and approximately 1,400 adolescents between 18 and 20 will be accompanied during the project phase.

Where does the survey take place?

The survey is conducted primarily in five selected German federal states: Bavaria, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony. These federal states differ systematically in certain factors considered by researchers to be important for the integration of refugees. These include, for example, the number of refugees admitted, the schooling and day care strategies for young refugees, but also factors such as the unemployment rate, the proportion of the population with migration experience, or the population density. The interviews are conducted on site in the accommodations and households of the refugees. In the event of a relocation to another federal state, the adolescents or the families will continue to be interviewed there.

The Map of Germany with the five selectes German federal states highlighted

How is the survey conducted?

As part of the study „Educational Trajectories of Refugee Children and Adolescents“, two interviews with the participants will be conducted in a multi-mode design in 2022 and 2024. Elementary school children and their parents will be interviewed on the one hand, and adolescents on the other.

Illustration of the research design 


Data collection and processing

The preparation of the content of the surveys, the project and study management, and the subsequent data processing are carried out by the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories. Therefor the Migration working unit, the Center for Study Management, the Software Development working unit, and the Research Data Center work closely together.
The social research institute "infas Institute for Applied Social Sciences" is responsible for the data collection.

The interviews are conducted in Arabic, German, or English. The interviews combine a computer-assisted face-to-face interview conducted directly by an interviewer (CAPI) with a computer-assisted questionnaire that participants complete themselves (CASI). At the first measurement, elementary school children will also receive a short, paper-based questionnaire (PAPI) in German. In the second wave in 2024, competence tests using standardized tests will also be administered.

The data will be made available to the scientific community as Scientific Use files by the LIfBi Research Data Center.



Das Team von BildungswegeFlucht

Cross-departmental project team 2021 (from left to right): Lea Rauh, Timo Reichert (until 2022), Shaza Al Rihawi, Pascal Bentata (until 2022), Dr. Dominik Weigand (until 2021), Dr. Gisela Will, Dr. Regina Becker, Patrick Matthias Weber, Dr. Jutta von Maurice, Christin Förster, Julian Seuring, Sven Pelz


Project profile





Bayer, S., Blask, K., Gnambs, T., Jansen, M., Maehler, D., Meyermann, A., & Neuendorf, C. (Eds.). (2023). Data for Psychological Research in the Educational Field. Special collection of the Journal of Open Psychology Data. Ubiquity Press.
von Maurice, J., & Will, G. (2023). Data from the Panel Study ‘Refugees in the German Educational System (ReGES)’. Journal of Open Psychology Data, 11(1), 1-15.
Welker, J. (2023). Recent refugees’ educational selectivity and its role for their children’s education and language competencies in Germany. Otto Friedrich University Bamberg.
Welker, J., & Will, G. (2023). The role of recent refugees' educational selectivity in their children's educational decisions in Germany. Frontiers in Sociology, 7, Article 1061976.
Will, G., Heinritz, F., & von Maurice, J. (2023). Welche Erfahrungen geflüchteter Jugendlicher wirken sich hemmend oder fördernd auf die schulische Bildungskarriere aus? Impu!se für Gesundheitsförderung, (120), 9-10.
Will, G., Seuring, J., & von Maurice, J. (2023). Geflüchtete Kinder in der Grundschule – Eine Bestandsaufnahme. Grundschule, 2023(1), 7-13.


FDZ-LIfBi. (2022). Data Manual, ReGES Refugee Cohort 1 – Children, Scientific Use File Version 3.0.0 . LIfBi Research Data Documentation Series. Bamberg: Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, National Educational Panel Study.
FDZ-LIfBi. (2022). Data Manual, ReGES Refugee Cohort 2 – Adolescents, Scientific Use File Ver‐ sion 3.0.0. (LIfBi Research Data Documentation Series. Bamberg: Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories, National Educational Panel Study.
Heinritz, F., Will, G., & Gentile, R. (2022). Surveying illiterate individuals: Are audio files in computer-assisted self-interviews a useful supportive tool? In S. Pötzschke, & S. Rinken (Eds.), Migration research in a digitized world Using innovative technology to tackle methodological challenges (pp. 101-125). Springer.
Seuring, J., & Will, G. (2022). German language acquisition of refugee children - The role of preschools and language instruction. Frontiers in Sociology, 7, Article 840696.
Welker, J., Will, G., Al Rihawi, S., & Weber, F. (2022). The occupational situation in the country of origin – illustration using the example of Syrian families in the ReGES study. LIfBi Working Paper 104. Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories.
Will, G., Becker, R., & Winkler, O. (2022). Educational policies matter: How schooling strategies influence refugee adolescents'; School participation in lower secondary education in Germany. Frontiers in Sociology, 7, Article 842543.


Becker, R., Weber, F., & Bentata, P. (2021). Measuring educational trajectories of adolescent refugees in a longitudinal perspective. Challenges and solutions in the ReGES study. LIfBi Working Paper 95. Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories.
Becker, R., Will, G., & Siegers, R. (2021). Geflüchtete Jugendliche in der Sekundarstufe I - Ergebnisse der Befragung der institutionellen Kontextpersonen der ReGES-Studie. LIfBi Working Paper 103. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Edele, A., Kristen, C., Stanat, P., & Will, G. (2021). The education of recently arrived refugees in Germany: Conditions, processes, and outcomes. Journal of Educational Research Online, 13(1), 5-16.
Heinritz, F., & Will, G. (2021). Geflüchtete in Kindertagesstätten - Erste Ergebnisse der Befragung des institutionellen Kontextpersonen der ReGES-Studie. LIfBi Working Paper 93. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Heinritz, F., & Will, G. (2021). Selektive Teilnahme von Geflüchteten an der Panelstudie ReGES. LIfBi Working Paper 96. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Homuth, C., Liebau, E., & Will, G. (2021). The role of socioeconomic, cultural, and structural factors in daycare attendance among refugee children. Journal for Educational Research Online, 13(1), 16-77.
Obry, M., Schild, A., Will, G., & Kopp, F. (2021). Die Messung des rezeptiven Wortschatzes in der Flüchtlingsstudie ReGES (Welle 1). LIfBi Working Paper 98. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Siebler, F., Bentata, P., & Will, G. (2021). Befragung von regionalen Kontextpersonen im Rahmen der Studie ReGES. LIfBi Working Paper 99. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
von Maurice, J., & Will, G. (2021). Geflüchtete Kinder und Jugendliche im deutschen Bildungssystem: Zentrale Befunde der Studie ReGES. LIfBi Forschung kompakt 2. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Welker, J. (2021). Relative education of recent refugees in Germany and the middle east: Is selectivity reflected in migration and destination decisions? International Migration, 60(2), 65-80.
Will, G., Homuth, C., von Maurice, J., & Roßbach, H.-G. (2021). Integration of recently arrived underage refugees: Research potential of the study ReGES — Refugees in the German Educational System. European Sociological Review, 37(9), 1027-1043.


Homuth, C., Welker, J., Will, G., & von Maurice, J. (2020). The impact of legal status on different schooling aspects of adolescents in Germany. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 36(2), 45-58.
Homuth, C., Will, G., & von Maurice, J. (2020). Broken school biographies of adolescent refugees in Germany. In A. Korntheuer, P. Pritchard, D. Maehler, & L. Wilkinson (Hrsg.), Refugees in Canada and Germany: From Research to Policies and Practice (25). Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences.
von Maurice, J., Balaban, E., Will, G., & Roßbach, H.-G. (2020). Kinder mit Fluchthintergrund: Zur Bedeutung von Kindertageseinrichtungen für einen erfolgreichen Übergang in die Grundschule und den späteren Bildungserfolg. In S. Pohlmann-Rother, S. D. Lange, & U. Franz (Hrsg.), Kooperation von Kita und Grundschule: Digitalisierung, Inklusion und Mehrsprachigkeit. Aktuelle Herausforderungen beim Übergang bewältigen (2. Aufl., S. 45-80). Wolters Kluwer.
Weigand, D., & Förster, C. (2020). Kommunikationsstrategien in einer Längsschnittstudie zur Bildungsintegration von Flüchtlingen. Praxiserfahrungen aus ReGES – Refugees in the German Educational System. In M. Gonser, K. Zimmer, N. Mühlhäußer, & D. Gluns (Hrsg.), Wissensmobilisierung und Transfer in der Fluchtforschung: Kommunikation, Beratung und gemeinsames Forschungshandeln (S. 55-70). Waxmann.
Will, G., & Homuth, C. (2020). Education of refugee adolescents at the end of secondary school: The role of educational policies, individual and familial resources. Soziale Welt, 71(1-2), 160-200.
Will, G., & Homuth, C. (2020). L’accueil des nouveaux immigrants dans le système scolaire – l’exemple de l’Allemagne. Administration & Éducation, 166(2), 177-183.
Will, G., Becker, R., & Weigand, D. (2020). COVID-19 lockdown during field work: Challenges and strategies in continuing the ReGES study. Survey Research Methods, 14(2), 247-252.


Gentile, R., Heinritz, F., & Will, G. (2019). Übersetzung von Instrumenten für die Befragung von Neuzugewanderten und Implementation einer audiobasierten Interviewdurchführung. LIfBi Working Paper 86. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Steinhauer, H. W., Zinn, S., & Will, G. (2019). Sampling refugees for an educational longitudinal survey. Survey Methods: Insights from the Field. 1–16.


Will, G., Balaban-Feldens, E., Dröscher, A., Homuth, C., & Welker, J. (2018). Integration von Flüchtlingen in Deutschland: Erste Ergebnisse aus der ReGES-Studie. LIfBi Working Paper 76. Leibniz-Institut für Bildungsverläufe.
Will, G., Gentile, R., Heinritz, F., & von Maurice, J. (2018). ReGES – Refugees in the German Educational System: Forschungsdesign, Stichprobenziehung und Ausschöpfung der ersten Welle. LIfBi Working Paper 75. Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories.