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. Some 24,000 members of staff are employed in around 67 Fraunhofer institutes throughout the whole of Germany. The amount spent on research annually totals EUR 2 billion. Fraunhofer  supports offices in Europe, the USA, Asia, and the Middle East.

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 centers, an annual budget of around EUR 4 billion and 38,000 members of staff the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. It conducts research into energy, the earth and the environment, health, key technologies, the structure of material as well as traffic and outer space.

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 1.900 internationalen Forschern einen wissenschaftlichen Aufenthalt in Deutschland und pflegt ein Netzwerk von rund 26.000 Humboldtianern aller Fachgebiete in 140 Ländern – unter ihnen 51 Nobelpreisträger.

Leibniz Association

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the last all-round scholars. The scientific range covered by the 88 member institutes is correspondingly broad, extending from the humanities and economics through to mathematics. The focus is on applied basic research. The Leibniz institutes employ more than 18,000 staff and have a total budget of over EUR 1.64 billion.

Max Planck Society

The Max Planck Society was founded on February 26, 1948 – as the successor to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society set up in 1911 for the promotion of science. Max Planck Institutes undertake basic research in the natural sciences, bio-sciences and social sciences as well as the humanities. Together with partner universities, MPG has founded  International Max Planck Research Schools.

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 350 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 companies, the public sector and the free professions are busy training young people. Small and medium-sized business provide more than 80 percent of all traineeships. 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. A new qualification track: advanced training alongside the job that can lead even as far as a university Master’s degree.