Academic exchange is a pillar of international cultural and educational 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. The Research and Academic Relations Initiative has since 2009 expanded its range of proven instruments and expanded them to include new strategies.
Thus, worldwide, five German Houses of Research and Innovation (DWIH) in Moscow, New Delhi, New York, São Paulo, and Tokyo promote scientific collaboration with Germany.
Furthermore, since 2009 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 Subsaharan Africa since 2008 ten expert centres have also been established that symbolise new research capacities and an improved quality of education.
Academic cooperation with crisis and conflict regions
A major focal point of the German foreign cultural and education policy in times of crisis and in regions in conflict as well as in transition countries is to enable access to education and research and thus create scientific and academic prospects. 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.
Strengthening academic freedom
The numerous crises and conflicts the world has seen in the most recent past result in young people being denied education and academic freedom coming under ever greater pressure. In response to this, the Federal Foreign Office funds the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation’s Philipp Schwartz Initiative, which enables threatened researchers to work in Germany. And the German Academic Exchange Service in 2014 teamed up with the Federal Foreign Office to launch the “Leadership for Syria” programme, which ensured 221 Syrian scholarship holders could study in Germany and graduate. Moreover, the Federal Foreign Office promotes Sur-Place scholarship programmes for refugees in first host countries. Particularly worthy of mention in this context is the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI), which is run by the Federal Foreign Office together with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR); there are also additional Sur-Place scholarships available through the DAAD.
German educational and academic institutions thus create prospects and keep access open where university and research policy conditions are otherwise tough. The DAAD has also teamed up with the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research to launch the “Integra – Integration of Refugees into Vocational Studies” and “Welcome – Students Support Refugees” programmes.
Since 2001 Germany has conducted a transformation 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.