GERMANY: Success for export of study programmes

The German Academic Exchange Service can boast a record number of grant-holders for 2008. German exports of study programmes appear to be expanding, too. However, the organisation warns that the new bachelors' and masters' courses that have been introduced in Germany leave students only a little leeway to gain experience abroad.

The DAAD awarded a total of EUR303.9 million (US$428 million) to 57,514 students, academics and artists from Germany and abroad in 2008. What contributed to the peak in grants was an increase of the organisation's budget by EUR23 million. Money was also allocated via 26 newly introduced programmes.

The export of study programmes is showing more and more success. Courses modelled along the lines of German programmes are being offered abroad, and in some cases, entire new higher education institutions are being founded. The latest example of this is the German-Turkish University in Istanbul.

While numbers of applicants both from Germany and abroad have continued to increase, a trend has arisen among German students to opt for shorter stays in foreign countries. The new bachelors and masters courses introduced as part of the Bologna process are tightly organised, leaving students with only little time to go abroad.

"We are calling on German universities to grasp the restructuring of courses as an opportunity to internationalise," says DAAD President Stefan Hormuth. "They ought to include a 'mobility window' as an integral element offering the option for a stay abroad in the second half of studies."

The DAAD is already supporting institutions with its new PRIMUS programme. Funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, it promotes the setting up bachelor programmes of four instead of three years. The extra year is to allow for students to go abroad where they can acquire a special interdisciplinary qualification or a qualification as a vocational preparation.

Another critical aspect of the new courses is financial problems facing students who do not have enough time for part-time jobs. This means many cannot afford stays abroad. The DAAD says that with increasing student numbers, it will need more funding for grants in future.