The organisation responsible for internationalisation at German higher education institutions wants to improve the academic success of its international students, as well as increase the proportion of international students and researchers at campuses to 15%.
“We are committed to comprehensive support and integration of international students”
Some 13.8% of students at Germany’s universities in 2019 were international students, recent data has shown.
DAAD also wants to ensure that half of all German students have a “substantial” international or intercultural experience via study abroad, virtual experiences or “internationalisation at home”.
In 2016, around 28% of students in later semesters took study-related visits abroad, according to a DSW/DZHW-Social survey.
“In order to secure the attractiveness of Germany as a study location sustainably, it is crucial that international students here study just as successfully as their fellow German students,” the DAAD strategy report noted.
The organisation supports German universities to train international students as skilled workers, which the government says companies require to “maintain their innovative strength, assert themselves in global competition and ultimately secure our prosperity”.
“We are committed to comprehensive support and integration of international students, in which teaching German language skills play a central role,” the strategy continued.
A recent survey found that numbers of German language learners have increased over the past five years, with figures rising by almost 50% in Africa.
The strategy will help DAAD shape foreign science policy, and expand international university relations in the 2020s, according to DAAD president Joybrato Mukherjee.
“In order to achieve these goals, we, together with our member universities, are building on the values to which the German university and science system owes its strength: partnership, freedom of science and commitment to the joint solution to pressing global issues,” Mukherjee said.
“‘Recognising and promoting potential worldwide’ is our first strategic field of action: The awarding of scholarships to excellent students and young scientists remains a core area of our funding activities,” Mukherjee added.
“But this core area is subject to rapid changes. Digital change is reshaping the way international exchange is lived. Virtual formats complement and reinforce physical mobility and sometimes have the potential to replace it. We are seeing and experiencing this every day anew in the corona pandemic.”
Celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2025, DAAD also hopes the strategy will secure and maintain Germany’s place among the top five target countries for international students and doctoral candidates.
“I am convinced that we urgently need innovative and digital formats in order to continue to attract excellent young people to study in Germany in the future,” DAAD general secretary Dorothea Rüland added.
DAAD is committed to developing digital offers before, during and after studying in Germany, Rüland explained.
“In this way, we also promote even stronger networking at all levels of the university: in teaching and research as well as in administration.
“Even if physical exchange remains the ideal way for intercultural experience and the establishment of sustainable networks in science: With targeted digital preparation, support and follow-up, we can achieve more successful studies and thus more sustainability.”
A stay abroad for German students is not a “realistic option for all”, the document noted, and a large number of students travelling overseas bye air will accelerate climate change.
“The consistent integration of virtual elements offers new solutions here,” it read.
As well as an increased focus on digitalisation and international collaboration, DAAD will seek greater scientific cooperation with Africa.
“We urgently need innovative and digital formats in order to continue to attract excellent young people to study in Germany”
Significant problems in the “Anthropocene” human-influenced geological age such as climate change, sustainability, conflict management and health concerns affect Africa and Europe alike as neighbours, Mukherjee noted.
“The climate change-related shortage of natural resources is one of the main drivers of migration from Africa to Europe,” Mukherjee said.
“The breakdown of a number of African countries is leading to the collapse of healthcare services and encouraging epidemics and pandemics.
“And demographic trends in most African countries are producing a high number of talented young people, to whom we wish to jointly offer positive prospects.”
The coronavirus pandemic has added impetus, he indicated.
“The corona pandemic shows that we will only master the challenges of climate change, health or biodiversity conservation on our limited planet Earth if we connect the brightest minds and the best institutions worldwide,” Mukherjee added.