Academic exchange is a pillar of German cultural relations and education policy. In its implementation, key partners of the Federal Foreign Office are the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) along with the foundations of the political parties with an international focus. In 2009, in his first term of office, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier launched the Research and Academic Relations Initiative. Its aim: to buttress tried-and-tested methods and expand them to include new strategies. It has already inspired countless new ideas in exchange; and consciously supports further networking around the globe.
Worldwide, five German Houses of Research and Innovation (DWIH) in Moscow, New Delhi, New York, São Paulo and Tokyo, as well as the German Science Centre (DWZ) in Cairo promote scientific collaboration with Germany. They regard themselves as showcases for Germany as a research and innovation location, and pool information and the existing structures of German research institutions in these countries. For this reason they are the first point of contact for all academics interested in collaborating with Germany.
Furthermore, since 2010 the German Academic Exchange Service has funded the work of four new Centres of Excellence in Russia, Thailand, Chile, and Colombia: these network hundreds of international scientists with German research and train young academics to the highest standards. In each case they are conceived as collaborations in research and teaching between a German higher education institution and one or several foreign partner institutes.
Academic cooperation with crisis and conflict regions
A major focal point of the research and academic relations policy is cooperation with academics and higher education institutions in crisis and conflict regions, as well as in transition countries. With this complex commitment there are hopes that cooperation in research and higher education can pave the way for political understanding, and that as such crisis prevention and crisis management can frequently be made possible. Higher education can thus become a basis for sustainable development and provide people with the necessary expertise for self-help by qualifying future decision-makers; and as such impacting directly on society.
One result of the numerous crises and conflicts the world has seen in the most recent past is that young people are being denied education. For this reason, in 2014 the Federal Foreign Office, together with the German Academic Exchange Service, launched the “Leadership for Syria” programme, which enables over 200 Syrian scholarship holders to study in Germany. Following the conflict in the Balkans, much has been achieved with regard to rebuilding academic structures in southeastern Europe, and since 2002 in Afghanistan, for example through a variety of efforts by German higher education institutions in IT and economics. Academic development work is also underway in central Iraq and Kurdistan Iraq.
Transition partnership with countries in the Arab world
Furthermore, since 2001 Germany has conducted a transition partnership with several Arab countries. The idea is to support reform efforts at Arab universities through cooperation projects with German higher education institutions. Moreover, the numerous “Good Governance” programmes aimed at future leaders in crisis regions worldwide constitute a particularly important field.