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Refugees in the German Educational System


The participants of the study "Refugees in the German Educational System" (ReGES) will continue to be accompanied in the coming years in the BMBF-funded study "Educational Trajectories of Refugee Children and Adolescents". Nothing will change for the respondents.


Further information for participants at



The strong immigration of refugees in the mid-2010s poses major integration policy challenges for the Federal Republic of Germany. Integration, understood as the integration of individual immigrants into the social systems, can function for young refugees in particular via the education system. However, reliable data on this topic were hardly available at the time the ReGES project was launched.

ReGES therefore investigated the conditions under which the integration of refugees into our education system can succeed: What factors hinder or delay integration? Which offers contribute to the success of integration into our society? The aim was to examine the integration process of young immigrants into the German education system and German society. In addition, the data collected will be made available to the scientific community (



The aim of the ReGES project was to collect data that can be used to describe and analyze the newly immigrated groups and their educational trajectories. In addition, the ReGES project also conducted its own research on various topics. In addition to individual educational careers, the project also looked at how educational institutions deal with the integration challenges of everyday life, which aspects promote the integration of refugees and which, on the other hand, have an inhibiting effect.

Another goal was to examine the influence of migration-specific factors on educational success. The focus of interest was on conditional factors for which a systematic difference between newly arrived refugees and children and adolescents with an immigrant background who have been living in Germany for some time was suspected: For example, residence status, return orientation, and duration of residence.

The differences in German language skills that are presumably related to these conditions also represent a central aspect that needed to be examined in detail. In addition, aspects that are also at the center of previous migration research (e.g., size of the ethnic group, embedding in ethnic networks, cultural distance) were taken into account.

The study accompanied children and their parents as well as young people after their flight from crisis areas over a longer period of time and collected scientifically reliable data by means of surveys and tests. This helped to develop a better understanding of the conditions under which integration through education can succeed.



Who was interviewed?

In order to provide information on the integration of refugees into the education system as efficiently and promptly as possible, ReGES focused on two key stages in the educational process: First, early childhood education was examined, which is particularly significant for the acquisition of German language skills and the start of an educational career and can also support the integration of entire families. Second, the researchers took a close look at the transition from lower secondary school to the education system. This phase is particularly central to medium- and long-term integration into the labor market.

In both groups, 2,400 people from their countries of origin were initially interviewed. In addition to the focus persons themselves, the surveys were also intended for contextual persons such as parents, teachers, other specialists and volunteers.

The map of germany highlighting the five selected federal states

Where was the survey conducted?

The surveys were conducted in five selected German states, which differ systematically in certain factors that are considered important for the integration of refugees: Bavaria, Hamburg, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saxony (outlined in red in the adjacent graphic).

An important basis for the selection was the number of refugees who were admitted to the respective federal states (see chart). In addition, factors such as the unemployment rate, opportunities on the training market, traditions in the area of early childhood care, and social structures such as population density and the proportion of migrants in the population were also taken into account. Another key aspect was the strategy for schooling the newly immigrated children and young people in the various federal states.

How was the survey conducted?

In a first step, the survey was conducted in eight different languages to enable the broadest possible initial measurement. Only later was the survey limited to three languages. Due to the high mobility of the target groups and the changes expected in the course of education, especially at the beginning, a close-meshed survey was planned at six-month intervals.

Different channels were used to obtain the information: The adolescents and parents were interviewed primarily in face-to-face interviews, but also in telephone and web-based interviews. In contrast, paper-based questionnaires were used in particular in contact with the other context persons. In addition, all children and adolescents were tested, particularly in the area of language.



At the end of the ReGES project, analyses by various researchers were summarized in a transfer report. In the following, some of the results presented there are presented as examples.

Refugee children significantly less likely to be cared for in daycare centers

The study surveyed 2,405 children aged at least four who had not yet started school at the time of the first survey and their parents. 79.2% of the children attended a daycare center. The attendance rate of the refugees surveyed thus lags significantly behind that of other groups of the same age. Attendance at a daycare center is considered sensible and important, especially for children with a refugee background. The families whose children did not attend a daycare center most often gave the reason that no childcare place was available. The problem situation of refugees goes beyond this, however, as some parents report a lack of information.

94.1% of the educators surveyed rated the integration of children with a refugee background in their facility as successful. However, this also means that 5.9% do not report successful integration.

German language as a key competence

As part of the study, 2,415 refugee young people between the ages of 14 and 16 were asked how they assessed their language skills in general (understanding, speaking, reading, writing) and with regard to specific applications. The collected data indicate clear differences in competence in everyday and educational language.

While the young people surveyed generally rate their skills as "rather good" or even "very good", the differentiated survey shows a much more complex picture: 93.0% can greet someone or introduce themselves, but only 41.1% can easily follow most TV shows. And finally, only 18.7% can read literature and non-fiction and 15.2% say they can write sophisticated texts.

The findings on language competence point very clearly to the need for language support measures.

Major challenges in the school careers of young refugees

The young people surveyed in the study provided information on their school attendance before, during and after their flight. The data show, among other things, that the school careers of the young people surveyed were interrupted for more than a year on average due to the flight and in the course of arriving in Germany. In their subsequent schooling in Germany, the young people are distributed across all the school types considered. However, secondary modern schools (Hauptschulen) and combined secondary modern schools (Haupt- und Realschulen) are attended more frequently, while secondary modern schools (Realschulen) and grammar schools (Gymnasien) are attended less frequently than would be expected if official data for all students in the federal states considered in ReGES were taken into account. Moreover, school enrollment in Germany often took place in lower grades that do not correspond to the age of the young people. This means that one has to keep an eye on possible accumulations of risks in the educational pathways of refugee youth.

In the meantime, a number of further results from the ReGES project have been published. An overview of the publications can be found here.

Improved data on the situation of refugees in the German education system

Within the framework of ReGES, refugee children and adolescents as well as their families were interviewed at several points in time (= survey waves). Parents and adolescents provided information on personal and refugee-specific characteristics as well as on their life and educational experiences in Germany. The refugees also had the opportunity to report on educational goals and future aspirations. Data was also collected from the educational professionals and full-time and volunteer workers in the communities and shared accommodations. Thus, the ReGES study was able to create a rich database on the situation of refugee children and adolescents in the German education system.

The Research Data Center of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Progress makes the data of the study "Refugees in the German Educational System (ReGES)" available to the scientific community as scientific-use files for empirical analyses at The data portfolio is complemented by a comprehensive documentation and information service.



The project team regularly produced flyers for participants in the ReGES study, presenting selected results from the study.

To the Results Flyer

At the end of the ReGES project, analyses by various researchers were summarized in a transfer report.

To the PDF (In German)

Data Offer

The Research Data Center of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (FDZ-LIfBi) provides the data of the study "Refugees in the German Educational System (ReGES)" as scientific-use files to the scientific community for empirical analyses. The data portfolio is complemented by a comprehensive documentation and information service.

Zum Datenangebot

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.

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