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Education & Knowledge

Networking Academia

The German research landscape has an international focus and is well networked and open to academics from abroad.
Vernetzte Wissenschaft
© Gorodenkoff/

Globalisation has changed the German science landscape, too, so the ability of scientists to network is crucial. Germany has positioned itself well on this issue, with researchers now writing more than half of their publications as part of international collaborations. The country’s 423 higher education institutions employ 59,000 academic and artistic staff with foreign citizenship, including 3,700 professors. This means that 13.9 percent of all academic staff are international, with the share of international professors at 7.4 percent. The simplified visa procedures recently created for researchers from non-EU countries are a key factor accounting for the large proportion of international researchers in Germany.

The largest group of foreign academic staff is from Western Europe: the share here is 34 percent. The most important countries of origin of international academic staff are India, Italy, China and Austria. In many cases, universities and research institutions set up welcome centres to provide improved support for international researchers when they are getting started. Temporary stays by researchers are also seen as an asset since the latter often become key network partners for further collaborations after returning to their home countries.

Excellent research opportunities at non-university institutions

What many researchers from abroad like about Germany is the country’s attractive research infrastructure. Some 15,000 academics from abroad are employed to conduct research at Germany’s four largest non-university research institutions: the Max Planck Society 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 85 Max Planck institutes conduct basic research in the natural, biological and social sciences and in the humanities. The Max… Read more › , the Helmholtz Association Helmholtz Association With 18 research centres, an annual budget of EUR 5.8 billion and more than 43,000 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. … Read more › , the Leibniz Association Leibniz Association Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646–1716) was one of the last all-round scholars. The scientific range covered by the 97 research institutes is correspondingly broad, extending from the humanities and economics through to mathematics. The focus is on applied basic research. The Leibniz institutes… Read more › and the Fraunhofer Fraunhofer The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft conducts applied research. Clients include industrial companies and service providers as well as the public sector. More than 30,000 employees are involved in generating the annual research volume of 3 billion euros. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft operates 76 institutes and… Read more › Society. This means they account for 28 percent of the researchers at these four institutions. In addition, around 23,000 stays by foreign guest researchers receive support from funding organisations such as the German Academic Exchange Service ( DAAD DAAD 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… Read more › ). Numerous top academics from abroad come to German universities via a Humboldt Professorship: granted by the Humboldt Foundation Humboldt Foundation The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation was founded in 1860 and today promotes academic collaboration between excellent foreign and German researchers. Every year it enables 2,000 international researchers to spend time working in Germany and maintains a worldwide network of some 30,000 Humboldtians… Read more › , this is Germany’s most highly endowed research award and is worth five million euros.

Germany is looking to expand and deepen international academic cooperation while at the same time raise it to a new level of quality. This is underpinned among other things by the Federal Government Federal Government The Federal Government and cabinet is made up of the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Ministers. While the Chancellor holds the power to issue directives, the ministers have departmental powers, meaning that they independently run their respective ministries in the framework of those directives… Read more › ’s new strategy for the internationalisation of education, science and research, which was adopted in 2017.

Ambitious realignment of the internationalisation strategy

The internationalisation strategy responds to growing globalisation, digitisation, the advance of the European Research Area, and the emergence of new, global innovation centres outside established scientific hubs. The focus is on promoting international networking, world-wide cooperation in vocational training Vocational training Dual vocational training is quite unique internationally. After leaving school, many young people follow one of more than 300 state-recognised apprenticeship training programmes under the dual system. This entry into professional life differs from vocational training based only in colleges such as… Read more › , partnerships with the Global South and emerging markets, and transnational efforts to overcome global challenges such as climate change, health, and food security. Strengthening the European Research Area plays a special role in strengthening Germany’s position as a study and research space that is internationally attractive.