German and Indian universities step up cooperation

The German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, and the Indian University Grants Commission, or UGC, are stepping up cooperation. A new higher education partnership programme has been signed during a visit by a German delegation headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The DAAD and the UGC are to invest €3.5 million (US$3.9 million) each in the new programme, which will run over a period of four years. Funding is to be provided by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, or BMBF, and India’s Ministry of Human Resource Development.

The programme will focus on promoting mobility among students and teachers between the two countries. Joint teaching and research projects are envisaged in particular. With the number of Indian students at German higher education institutions having doubled over the past four years to reach a present 11,800, India is now fifth among the countries that foreign students come from.

“India is an important partner for German universities,” says DAAD President Margret Wintermantel. “With the new programme, we are intensifying long-standing cooperation that has already been very good, and we are creating new opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration.”

The agreement was signed by UGC Chairman Ved Prakash and DAAD Vice-president Joybrato Mukherjee in the presence of German Education and Research Minister Johanna Wanka.

Mukherjee maintains that the student statistics reflect Germany’s popularity among Indians as a country to study and do research in, while also demonstrating the strengths of Indian higher education. “Intensive cooperation in research and teaching is creating a win-win situation for both countries, and with the new programme, we can provide significant support for the institutions involved,” he says.

German industry is also keen to cooperate with India, which is set to attain a growth rate of 7.5% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund. “India is going to grow faster than China for the first time in 30 years,” says Volker Treier, deputy chief executive of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce.

Treier emphasises that a recent survey by the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce shows that two thirds of the 30 largest German employers in India intend to invest around €1.4 billion over the next three years. He puts their optimistic mood down to the Indian government having announced economic reforms conducive to foreign investment.

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