Academic ties between Germany and the wider world are an important focus for the Federal Foreign Office. They are one of the main priorities of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication, which brings a diverse range of instruments as well as considerable funds to bear to ensure that Germany is well placed internationally to compete for the best brains. All these activities – collectively known as “research and academic relations policy” – are carried out in line with the German Government’s strategy to internationalise Germany’s higher education and research and in agreement with other ministries.
Scholarships and university partnerships
Helping students and academics to spend time in Germany is still the main plank of our cultural relations agenda for higher education and research. Increasingly, however, we are also supporting partnerships between German universities and universities in other parts of the world, such as in Kazakhstan, Indonesia, China and Oman. In a number of cases this has resulted in new dual degree courses and even – a growing trend – the founding of new universities like the German University in Cairo or, most recently, the German-Turkish University in Istanbul.
We are putting increasing emphasis on providing appropriate support for international students and academics at German universities – we want to foster a welcoming culture. Programmes have also been set up to maintain contact with alumni once they return to their home countries.
The Federal Foreign Office does not undertake all these activities itself but delegates the task to independent organisations along with the necessary funds from the federal budget. Accordingly, bodies such as the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation run their own scholarship and travel grant programmes etc. In so doing, they cooperate closely with German embassies abroad and sometimes even develop their own comprehensive programmes designed, for example, to rebuild higher education in Afghanistan.
Marketing Germany as a location
For a high-tech country like Germany, promoting international cooperation is an essential component of any strategy for the future. This means intensively marketing Germany as a centre for higher education and research. Through education fairs, targeted advisory services and a wide range of publications we seek to make Germany even better known to an international public.
Cooperation in Europe
The German Government is actively involved in the Bologna Process, which in recent years has seen 85% of degree programmes in Germany converted into bachelor’s and master’s programmes. In other ways, too, it continues to shape relations with neighbouring countries through projects designed to promote close cooperation. One of these projects is the Franco-German University, which opens up new opportunities for intensive collaboration between the over 150 participating universities in the two countries. Another is the Franco-German Forum, an annual event that provides information on cross-border career and study prospects. The establishment of a German-Polish Research Foundation has paved the way for intensified cooperation also with our eastern neighbour.