Germany from the Outside
The place, the people and academic life: after their stay, Humboldt Fellows complete an evaluation sheet. Read about the marks they award Germany.
If you are granted a Humboldt Fellowship and spend time working on research in Germany, you are bound to form an opinion about the way academia works at German universities and research institutes, and you will also get to know the country and its people: How open and tolerant are Germans towards their guests? What about their sense of humour? Are people here progressive, bureaucratic, hospitable? How well-equipped are the labs and the libraries? And what about working hours, childcare and junior researchers’ career prospects?
These are the questions the Humboldt Foundation asks its sponsorship recipients at the end of their fellowship. Researchers from all over the world assess how they and their families have experienced the 18 months the average fellow spends here during their research stay. The survey invites open comments, not least on how Germany compares with the fellow’s own country.
The evaluation “Germany from the outside” collates the results of the surveys conducted in the last six years from 2013 to 2018 and evaluates the responses of a total of more than 1,800 Humboldt visiting researchers from over 140 countries. The results show that Germany and its science system are largely perceived very positively and also hold their own internationally. Depending on where the respondents come from, however, there are points of criticism
Germany: Pro science, progressive, tolerant and even humorous. If only it weren’t for the bureaucracy.
The participants evaluated what they associate with Germany on a scale from +5 to -5. The light-blue base shows the mean value for evaluations from all regions. The coloured bars show the ratings by region.
Research: Quality and financing: top! But who takes care of young talents?
In comparison with other parts of the world, Germany is largely rated positively – with clear differences in some cases depending on whether the respondents come from Africa or North America, for instance. Despite these divergencies, everyone is agreed on the fields in which Germany is strong, such as infrastructure, and weak, such as dual career opportunities and promoting junior researchers.
Careers and workload: A question of perspective
The answers to this question differ enormously depending on the country of comparison. Japanese and American researchers think working hours are better than at home. French and British researchers consider professional opportunities to be worse here whilst their Chinese and Italian colleagues think they are better. All in all, Germany largely performs favourably, although there is room for improvement in comparison with certain countries.
„Deutsche Bahn is the best in the world!”
From food and culture via local transport and rents to the atmosphere in society and at universities: what the survey respondents particularly wanted to express. A selection.
Well cared-for: Germany is comparatively child-friendly
There is a shortage of places in nurseries and day-care centres. Plenty of parents in Germany could write a book about it, but in comparison with other countries, childcare provision seems a lot better. Especially Scandinavians think German childcare provision could be upgraded.
Individual points of criticism: Language barriers and bureaucracy are the most annoying.
Fellows were asked to comment freely on any aspects or describe personal experiences they perceived negatively. Out of 1,803 respondents, 1,277 answered the open question “What were the negative aspects of your stay in Germany?” appropriately. The most frequent points of criticism were language barriers and bureaucracy.
How was your stay in Germany?
In terms of place, people and academic life: how would you rate your stay in Germany? Write a comment and tell other alumni about your experiences!