Science, research and universities

10.04.2019 - Article

International cooperation between universities, scientists and researchers is playing an increasingly important role. Germany is helping to shape this cooperation and is working around the world to defend the freedom of science and research.

Meeting global challenges together

Whether it be through international higher education partnerships or double degrees and academic exchange programmes, universities and research institutes across the globe are becoming increasingly interconnected – because global challenges can only be met through joint action by international partners. As a location for innovation, science and research, Germany is playing an active role in shaping this cooperation.

Scholarship programmes

At the core of Germany’s foreign policy with regard to science, research and universities are scholarship programmes that promote visits to Germany by foreign students and scientists. In this sphere, the Federal Foreign Office works closely together with intermediary organisations. For example, the German Academic Exchange Service and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation each have their own programmes through which they provide scholarships and travel grants. In so doing, they cooperate closely with German embassies abroad and sometimes develop their own comprehensive programmes designed to rebuild higher education in Afghanistan.

German University in Cairo
German University in Cairo© EPA

University partnerships

Beyond scholarship programmes, Germany also promotes higher education partnerships around the world, for example with universities in Hungary, Turkey, Kazakhstan, China and Oman. As part of these efforts, double degree programmes and foreign universities with a German connection have been established, including the German University in Cairo and the Turkish-German University in Istanbul.

Implementation via intermediary organisations

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.

Cooperation in Europe

At European level, the German Government is actively engaged in the so-called Bologna Process. As a result, some 85 percent of all courses of study at German institutions of higher education have been converted to Bachelor and Master courses.

In addition, there are close cooperation projects with Germany’s neighbouring countries. One of these is the Franco-German University, which opens up new opportunities for intensive collaboration between nearly 200 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. Moreover, the German-language Andrássy University Budapest opened in 2002 as a joint project of Hungary, Germany, Austria and the Länder Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria.

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.

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.


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