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Higher education

Actors, partnerships and instruments

Team of scientists at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology in Nairobi, which Germany is supporting

In addition to the classic procedures and instruments of Financial and Technical Cooperation, the BMZ works closely with organisations that for many decades have been successfully organising and supporting international cooperation between students and academics. They include, in particular, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH). The aim is to interlink their activities as closely as possible with the work of the governmenta implementing organisations.

The BMZ also supports the scholarship programmes of the Protestant and Catholic Churches and provides funding for projects run by the political foundations.

German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Among other things, the DAAD arranges scholarships for students and scientists from developing countries. It assists higher education institutions in setting up discipline-specific partnerships and supports academic exchange through student and alumni networks. It also offers training courses in the field of higher education management and is active in the development of teaching and research in developmental fields.

The BMZ is currently supporting 18 DAAD programmes through annual grants. Among other things, it is supporting more than 200 cooperative arrangements between German institutions of higher education and higher education institutions in BMZ partner countries. This includes more than 100 such partnership arrangements with African institutions. The funding also goes towards the establishment of seven graduate programmes on priority topics from the 2030 Agenda. These interdisciplinary master, doctoral and postdoctoral programmes are to focus on issues that are important from a social point of view, and to support the development of young scientists.


Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

The Alexander von Humboldt foundation awards, among other things, the Georg Forster research fellowships, which are BMZ-funded. The programme is aimed at high-calibre scholars and scientists from developing and emerging countries in all disciplines who are conducting developmentally relevant research projects in Germany. From 1997 to 2016, support in the form of scholarships was provided to a total of 1,022 postdoctoral students and experienced scientists from developing countries. It is planned to increase the number of fellowships, which is currently about 70 per year on average, to 100 a year by 2020.

The Georg Forster Research Award, introduced in 2012 and also funded by the BMZ, is granted to outstanding academics from developing countries in recognition of their entire achievements to date.


Multilateral cooperation

Maize kernels in a test tube

Many international organisations have recognised the importance of science and research for development and are actively supporting higher education. For example, the European Union's Bologna Process to create a European Higher Education Area is serving as a model for similar initiatives in Africa.

Within the United Nations system, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the World Bank actively support the promotion of higher education. Regionally, the Asian and African Development Banks are active in this area. International cooperation partners also include private foundations such as the Aga Khan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation.


Fostering new partnerships and alliances

A team member of the Rural Polytechnic Institute for Training and Applied Research in Katibougou, Mali, examining a potato at a laboratory

In order to find answers to complex social challenges at the global and local levels, joint knowledge creation is imperative. What is needed is interdisciplinary approaches and closer cooperation between scientists and experts from the business community, civil society and the political arena from the Global South and the Global North.

The BMZ is therefore providing increased support to cooperation arrangements that are geared towards improving the collaboration between institutions of higher education (or academic institutions) and players outside the field of higher education. Close cooperation with partners from politics and business right from the planning process helps ensure that the results of the research will be of high practical benefit.

And if higher education is geared to the labour market, graduates can be sure that they will find appropriate jobs. Germany therefore places a focus on putting in place a structural basis for cooperation with the private sector and on including practical elements in higher education. Support is also being provided to the development and improvement of programmes related to careers planning and advice, and advice for graduates who want to start a business. For example, the BMZ worked with Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, Palestinian territories, to introduce the first three "dual study" programmes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, that is, programmes based on industry-university cooperation. Students can choose between electrical engineering, internet technology, and business administration.


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