Transnational Education: Insights

International students
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German universities have been engaged abroad for many years. There are courses of study “made in Germany” at more than 60 locations worldwide. Each Transnational Education project is different, and each has its own challenges and peculiarities. We present eight projects.


High level of practical orientation

The interplay of research and teaching with the regional economy is the focus at GUTech in the Sultanate of Oman. As such, it follows the lead of its partner university, RWTH Aachen. Established in 2007, GUTech today has around 1,100 students and is well on its way to becoming the Arab peninsula’s leading university of technology. An entire new district has evolved around the campus in Muscat. Besides engineering, students at this private university can also take degree programmes in logistics, tourism, urban development and economics.

To date there are eight Bachelor’s degree courses and a Master’s in Petroleum Geoscience on offer, all run in English, with further Master’s and PhD programmes to follow over the next few years. The students learn German and have the opportunity to spend a period of time studying in Aachen; the best students can also write their Bachelor’s dissertation at RWTH. Because the degree courses are highly practical in nature, GUTech graduates are in great demand on the regional employment market.


German-speaking engineers

Its particularly close ties to Germany are one of the unique features of the German Jordanian University (GJU) in Amman: all students spend a year in Germany studying and doing work experience placements at companies. Founded in 2005, this state university is structured in the same way as German universities of applied science. Because the regional economy needs a large number of engineers, the focus is on technical subjects. Together with around a hundred German partner universities, and managed by Magdeburg-Stendal University of Applied Sciences, GJU offers over 20 Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programmes.

It also has the largest German department of any German university abroad, boasting around 70 teachers – some of them even being trained by GJU itself in its Master’s programme German as a Foreign Language. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have come to Jordan in recent years, which is why an innovative degree course entitled Social Work for Refugees was created and is due to commence in the autumn. The number of students at GJU is to increase from around 4,100 at present to 5,000. 

3 | German University in Cairo (GUC), Cairo

Forward-looking pioneer

The German University in Cairo (GUC) is by far the largest binational university abroad with German participation. This private non-profit university with a technology and science focus has grown over the 13 years of its existence to nearly 12,000 students and doctoral researchers. GUC regularly occupies the top spots in Egyptian university rankings, and recently there were roughly ten times as many applicants as places. The first industrial park in Africa and the Middle East to be linked to a university was also created on its campus. Although the 70 or so Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD programmes are taught in English, all students also learn German.

There is an intensive exchange of teaching staff, PhD researchers and students with the partner universities of Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen. The Berlin campus was opened in 2012 so that even more students could experience Germany at first hand – in 2016 alone more than a thousand students from Egypt are spending a period of time studying there. Thanks to a special scholarship programme, some refugees living in Egypt will also be able to begin a course of study at GUC from the winter semester. 


Dedicated cooperation

Established only three years ago, the Turkish-German University (TDU) in Istanbul has quickly built up a good reputation for itself. Its law degree programmes in particular attract a large number of applicants because German and European law is taught alongside Turkish law. Another key area is engineering with its strong application-oriented research and teaching. From the autumn of 2016, TDU will be offering eight Bachelor’s and four Master’s  programmes that were developed in cooperation with German universities – among them the FU Berlin and the TU Berlin.

In total, 35 German universities are members of the consortium. The German and Turkish lecturers teach in German for the most part, so nearly all new TDU students first take a one-year preparatory course to learn the language. The university plans to grow in size from around 900 students now to 5,000 in  the  medium  term. As a result, it is intensively seeking lecturers who combine excellent academic qualifications with a good command of German. 25 Syrian refugees will also begin a course of study at TDU in the autumn. The TDU is a Turkish-German project of great political  significance. Both sides continue to support this joint project despite the current difficult political situation. 

5 | Vietnamese German University (VGU), Ho Chi Minh City

Flying faculty

Research and teaching are conducted separately in Vietnam, so the Vietnamese German University (VGU) in  Ho Chi Minh City is the country’s first research university. Since it was founded in 2008, this state university has grown to number some 1,200 students and doctoral researchers. The eleven primarily engineering-based  Bachelor’s and Master’s degree courses lead to German qualifications, and Germany’s nine largest technical universities are among VGU’s  partner  universities. Stu-dents can learn German while pursuing their Degree programmes, and some also have the chance to spend a semester in Germany. 

In future, it is hoped that more qualified Vietnamese teaching staff will ease the burden on the German “flying faculty”. To this end, more than 20 postdoc lecturers were recently appointed at VGU. In co-operation with the TU Berlin, a training centre for efficient and sustainable production methods was opened in 2014. Established in 2010, the Vietnamese-German Transport Research Centre (VGTRC) will be taking charge in 2017 of the world’s third-largest transport conference, the 12th International Conference of the Eastern Asia Society for Transportation Studies (EASTS). The ground-breaking ceremony for a major new campus with four additional research centres is planned in October.


Under one umbrella

The CDHK Chinese-German College for Postgraduate Studies was founded in Shanghai in 1998 with a view to training skilled  employees  and  managers  for  German  companies  operating  in  China.  Students  on  the  four  Master’s  courses  in  engineering  and  economics  can  acquire  dual  degrees  from  Tongji  University and  one  of  the  four  German  partner  universities.  Around  150  Germans  are  also  studying  at  the  CDHK  at  present.  One  unique  feature  is  the  institution’s  close  cooperation  with  the  business  sector,  which  provides funding for 22 endowed chairs. The Sino-German University of Applied Sciences (CDHAW) then followed in 2004,  introducing  the  German university of applied sciences model in China with four highly practical Bachelor’s degree programmes  in  engineering. 

The  project  involves  Tongji University collaborating  with  26  German  universities of applied sciences under  the  aegis  of  Mannheim  University of Applied Sciences. Both Chinese and German students can acquire a dual degree, and 35 Germans were among the institution’s graduates in 2015. Since 2011, the CDHK and CDHAW – together with other Germany-related institutions, partnerships and projects at Tongji University  – have all been under the umbrella of the Chinese-German University (CDH). The CDH serves as a platform for anyone who is engaged intensively with Germany. In January 2016, Asia’s largest German-language library was opened  here, with more than 25,000 books.


Committed cooperation

The foundation of the first binational university abroad involving an industrialised country got off to an amazingly  quick  start:  only  a  year  passed  from  the  initial  idea to the successful founding of the German-Russian Institute  of  Advanced  Technologies  (GRIAT)  in  Kazan.  The TU Ilmenau and the University of Magdeburg offer six Master’s degrees in engineering in line with German standards  at  the  GRIAT.  Their  lecturers  regularly  fly  to  the  State  Technical  Research  University in  Kazan to give  block lectures and seminars in English.

Students spend  their  third  semester  in  Germany,  acquiring  a  dual  degree  after  two years.  Unlike  in  similar projects  run  in  other  countries,  scholarships  are  funded  by  the  autonomous  Republic of Tatarstan. GRIAT’s corporate partners include the Siemens Group,  which  makes  available scholarships and laboratory equipment. From the autumn of 2016, other degree courses will be established in cooperation with  the TU Kaiserslautern, at which time tuition fees are also to be introduced. In the longer term, the institute is to evolve to become a fully-fledged German-Russian university.


Degree courses in German

Since 1993 the DAAD has been funding German-language degree  programmes  that  are  realised  in  cooperation  with  German universities at universities in the Central and Eastern European region and the Commonwealth of Independent States. 32 degree programmes are being funded in 2016. When  it  comes  to  the  subjects  involved,  legal  studies  and  economic  sciences  form  the  largest  group,  followed  by   engineering  sciences.

Kyrgyzstan  has  considerable  demand  for  engineers,  especially  in  the  area  of  energy  production,  which  is  why  the  Kyrgyz-German  Technical  Faculty    was  established  at  the  State  Technical  University of  Bishkek  (KSTU)  in  2004.  In  cooperation  with  Beuth  University of  Applied  Sciences  in  Berlin and Cologne University of Applied Sciences, it offers four-year  Bachelor’s  degree  courses  in  mechanical  engin-eering, electrical engineering and telematics, a combination of electrical and automation engineering. The Kyrgyz-German Technical Faculty was upgraded to university institute status (DKTI) in 2013. The degree programmes, with around 600 students at present, are run partly in German and partly in  Russian.  Student  and  lecturer  exchanges  and  summer  schools in Bishkek and Berlin foster contact with Germany. Several German and Kyrgyz companies – especially from the energy sector – are partners of the practical degree courses.

For  the  past  ten  years,  the  Master’s  programme  in  Ger-man  and  European  Studies  has  been  training  future  decision-makers for Ukraine. The course explores how politics, law and business function in Germany and the EU. The degree programme was jointly developed by the University of Jena and the National University of Kyiv Mohyla Academy, Ukraine’s  oldest  university.  The roughly ten  students  per  year  spend  their  first  year  in  Kiev,  with  at  least  half  of  the  teaching  sessions  conducted  in  German.

Most students spend a semester in  Jena  during  their  second  year  and  can  then  acquire  a  dual  degree.  If  they  choose  not  to  spend  time  in  Germany, they can complete their studies with a simple Master’s degree  from  the  Mohyla  Academy  and  a  Jena  certificate.  Graduates  work in areas such as politics and journalism  or  in  international  organisations.

This article was originally published in the .

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