Linguistic and Neighbourhood Integration among Highly-skilled Migrants – A Quantitative Analysis Using the Example of Foreign University Staff Members in Aachen, Bonn and Cologne

Daniela Imani, Josef Nipper, Günter Thieme


Integration issues among highly-skilled migrants were long considered rather irrelevant, a view being based on the image of a transnational, highly mobile elite that easily gets along at different workplaces during their respective duration of stay. Recent studies, however, indicate the heterogeneity of the group, for example with regard to vocational situation as well as migration trajectories. Accordingly, questions about their integration in the respective host society gain importance. Therefore, this article deals with integration processes of highly-skilled migrants in Germany. Based on a standardised survey (n=553) of foreign academics at the universities in Aachen, Bonn and Cologne, we examine aspects of the cultural and social dimension of integration processes in this group. In order to operationalise cultural integration, we chose linguistic competence indicators and social integration is operationalised using variables related to neighbourhood relationships. The study was primarily conducted using a cluster analysis.

With regard to their linguistic skills, the respondents can be divided into five clusters. The members of the first two clusters assess their language proficiency as above the mean, while the members of the last two clusters assess their language skills as distinctly lower than average. With regard to neighbourhood relationships, we identified six clusters that again differ in the assessment of their neighbourhood contacts. However, no linear-hierarchical composition is apparent in the neighbourhood integration clusters as was for the linguistic clusters. Furthermore, we examined the reciprocal effects between linguistic competence and neighbourhood relationships and the influences of selected predictor variables on these two dimensions. There is a highly significant correlation between linguistic competence and the neighbourhood situation. The correlation between linguistic competence and neighbourhood situation and a series of predictor variables such as nationality, academic discipline, family and household structures and duration of stay is also highly significant. We can also assume that some of these correlations, such as the latter, are reciprocal.


Highly-skilled migrants; Integration; Linguistic competence; Neighbourhood relationships; Cluster analysis

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