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Education & Knowledge

Research and Academic Relations Policy

Germany accords importance to academic cooperation in its foreign policy too. Here, interaction with crisis regions plays a special role.
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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, and the German Archaeological Institute (DAI), along with the foundations of the political parties with an international focus. The Research and Academic Relations Initiative has extended its range of proven instruments since 2009 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. In September 2020 the DAAD announced the planned opening of another branch in San Francisco. The DWIHs are a unique model worldwide and don the role of showcasing Germany as a centre of research and innovation.

Furthermore, since 2009 the German Academic Exchange Service has funded the work of five 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 Sub-Saharan Africa ten expert centres have also been established since 2008 that symbolise new research capacities and an improved quality of education.

Strengthening academic freedom

A major focal point of the German foreign cultural and education policy in times of crisis and in conflict regions, 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 crisis prevention and crisis management can therefore frequently be made possible.

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 in 2014 the German Academic Exchange Service 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.

Engagement for “Good Governance”

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 2011 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.

Partnership with Africa

Africa also plays an increasingly important role in research and academic relations. The Africa Strategy agreed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in 2018 strengthens collaboration with the region, primarily in the areas of climate, energy, nutrition and urbanisation. Through knowledge transfer and reinforcement of higher education, German and African partners aim to work together to find answers to pressing global questions. These include dealing with climate change and the fight against infectious diseases.

The corona pandemic has highlighted the need for international scientific cooperation once again. At the same time, it is prompting new ways of thinking with a view to shaping such exchange and speeding up existing developments in this area. Thus, key players like the DAAD are working to find alternatives to the growth of mobility. In future, cooperation will have to take place via digital means much more than ever before.