The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is an organization run jointly by the German institutes of higher education. Its purpose is to promote relations between higher education institutes in Germany and abroad, especially through exchange schemes between students and academics. As a rule its programs cover all disciplines and countries and are open to German and foreign students in equal measure. The DAAD supports a worldwide network of offices, lecturers and alumni associations and provides information and advice on a local basis.


Fraunhofer is engaged in applied research. Its projects are commissioned by industry and service providers as well as state-run institutions. More than 25,000 members of staff together book an annual research volume of EUR 2.3 billion. Fraunhofer runs 72 Fraunhofer institutes and research facilities in Germany and has subsidiaries in Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

German Research Foundation

The German Research Foundation (DFG – Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) is science’s central self- governing organization. It supports research projects, whereby funds are channeled primarily into institutes of higher education. It also promotes collaboration between researchers and advises parliaments and authorities.


Helmholtz Association

With 18 research centres, an annual budget of EUR 4.5 billion and more than 39,000 members of staff the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. It conducts research into energy, the earth and the environment, health, aerospace, transport, materials and key technologies.

Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung

Die 1860 gegründete Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung fördert Wissenschaftskooperationen zwischen exzellenten ausländischen und deutschen Forscherinnen und Forschern. Sie ermöglicht jährlich über 2.000 internationalen Forschern einen wissenschaftlichen Aufenthalt in Deutschland und pflegt ein Netzwerk von mehr als 28.000 Humboldtianern aller Fachgebiete in über 140 Ländern – unter ihnen 55 Nobelpreisträger.

Leibniz Association

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the last all-round scholars. The scientific range covered by the 93 research institutes is correspondingly broad, extending from the humanities and economics through to mathematics. The focus is on applied basic research. The Leibniz institutes employ around 19,000 staff and have a total budget of over EUR 1.9 billion.

Max Planck Society

The Max Planck Society was founded on 26 February 1948 – as the successor to the Kaiser-Wilhelm-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Wissenschaften, established in 1911. The 83 Max Planck institutes conduct basic research in the natural, biological and social sciences and in the humanities. The Max Planck Society founded along with partner universities the Max Planck Research Schools with their international focus. The Max Planck Society employs a total of 22,000 staff (2015), around 60 percent of them work in scientific disciplines.

Technical universities

Universities with an especially strong technical focus operate as Technical Universities (TU) or Technical Colleges (TH). They attach greater importance to basic research than do universities of applied science. The nine leading TUs have joined ranks to form the TU9 Initiative. They have an especially strong international focus and coordinate their numerous courses on offer outside Germany.

Vocational training

Germany’s two-track vocational training system is quite special internationally speaking. On completing school, approximately half of young people in Germany move on to learn one of the some 330 officially recognized vocations included in the Two-Track System. This entry into professional life differs from vocational training based only in colleges such as is customary in many other countries. The practical part of the course takes part on 3 or 4 days of the week in a company; the other 1 or 2 days are spent with specialist theoretical instruction in a vocational school. The courses take 2-3.5 years. In-company training is supported by courses and additional qualification facilities outside the companies. Training is financed by the companies, which pay the trainees/apprentices wages, while the government bears the costs of the vocational schools. Some 500,000 young people conclude new vocational training agreements under the two-track vocational training system each year Thanks to the Two-Track System, in Germany the number of young people without a profession or traineeship is comparatively low. This combination of theory and practical work guarantees that the craftsmen and skilled workers have prime qualifications. Vocational training is also a launchpad for a career that can, via advanced training, lead to participants becoming master craftsmen and women. Today, a qualification track is possible that via advanced training alongside the job can lead even as far as a university Master’s degree.

There is great international interest in the German vocational training system. One focus of the international vocational training cooperation activities by Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung (BIBB) is to foster cooperation with partner institutes.