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Artistic and Cultural Orientation

Pre-study program for migrants interested in studying the arts

The single-semester program Artistic and Cultural Orientation (ACO) of the Hochschule für bildende Künste Hamburg (University of Fine Arts, HFBK) is for asylum seekers and refugees who are interested in artistic and/or design issues related to film, photography/graphic art, design, and painting/sculpture who may later wish to apply to study fine arts.

Up to 20 program participants engage with traditions of thought in Western art, culture, and society in a theory seminar, and try out forms of working in art practiced in European art universities with HFBK alumni in practical artistic workshops.

Presentations from the different subject areas provide an insight into the various methodical and medial approaches at the HFBK. Subject-specific advice reveals individual educational biographies in more detail.

The program is supplemented by a mentor system. In other words, enrolled HFBK art students will accompany program participants throughout the whole semester to help them orient themselves within the University, give them an idea of the day-to-day life of students, answer practical questions about study, and help them to get to know the art scene.

Excursions and guided tours with a focus on contemporary art life in Hamburg help participants to better understand the environment and culture. At the end of the single semester program, a documentation of having completed the course will be provided (exhibition and/or publication), as public evidence of the experience gained from the exchange.

The program will be taught primarily in German. German as a foreign language courses is therefore taught as part of the program. A B2 and C1 level course will run concurrently with the semester. If they wish, participants may also attend higher-level courses.

Also part of the program is the series of lectures Cross-Cultural Challenges delivered by artists, theoreticians and curators who represent a non-European perspective, aimed at all University members and intended to promote discourse on cultural transfer.

Important information

  • Attendance is free of charge.
  • Participants have »study orientation phase« status, and will receive a participants' document.
  • At the end of the semester, a certificate certifying successful completion of the program will be issued to all attendees who have attended regularly and shown commitment to participation.
  • Participants will not be entitled to be admitted to the University.
  • Participation in the program will have no effect on any subsequent application for a regular study place at the HFBK. In other words, participants will be subject to the same requirements and deadlines as others applying to study art at the HFBK.
  • Participants will be unable to claim a semester ticket for use on buses and trains.
  • Participants will be unable to claim student financial assistance (BAföG).

Requirements for successful participation

  • Demonstrating an interest in artistic and/or design issues
  • Attending the theory seminar
  • Attending two of the four artistic workshops in the subject areas of film, photography/graphic art, design and painting/sculpture
  • An A2 level or better knowledge of German is welcomed. Participation in DaF courses (B2/C1 course concurrent with semester) or demonstration of a knowledge of German to a B2 level.


1st step: Filling out the online application form by 27 August 2018

2nd step: A face-to-face application interview in the period 3—5 September 2018

Applicants will be invited to an interview by mail or by telephone following the elapsing of the online application period, a short time in advance.

3rd step: Successful candidates will be informed that they have been admitted by 10 September 2018, by mail or by telephone.

Program timetable

8 October 2018, 11.00 h Welcome event
9 October 2018—6 February 2019
Workshops, seminar, excursions, DaF B2/C1 course
7—10 February 2019
Final presentation


Program coordinators