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Berg, Jana; Gottburgsen, Anja; Kleimann, Bernd (2021): Formalising organisational responsibility for refugees in German higher education: the case of first contact positions. In: Studies in Higher Education, S. 1–13

This article addresses the formalisation of support structures for refugee students at German higher education organisations. After the refugee influx in 2015 and 2016, early support for refugees was characterised by often voluntary, informal, spontaneous activities by pioneers. Subsequently, the situation changed as higher education organisations adjusted to the new challenge and restructured their way of dealing with study-interested refugees. Based on 18 interviews with heads of international offices and with the holders of so-called first contact positions for refugees at eight German higher education organisations, we investigate – drawing on organisation sociology – these organisational responses to (prospective) refugee students. In a second step, we focus on the first contact positions as the smallest organisational units in this field of action and describe their tasks, their placement in the hierarchy, and the procedures for staffing. Our analysis shows that in response to the growing number of refugee applicants and the availability of external funding, support structures for refugees were formalised by creating and/or expanding existing organisational structures, including the establishment of first contacts as specific boundary positions and of new internal and external communication channels.

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