Transnational Education - Partnering for success

German study programmes abroad rely on partnership and tailored curricula. That’s how the DAAD has been supporting success stories since the 1990s. Today it funds successful projects in 36 countries.

The combination of high academic standards and practical orientation is a characteristic feature of Germany’s higher education system. The good reputation that German universities enjoy in many countries around the world is based not only on their academic prestige but also on their graduates’ high degree of self-reliance. The number of international students in Germany is constantly growing. But German academic degrees can also be obtained outside Germany: in Asia, North Africa and Eastern Europe, German universities are now involved in 261 study programmes, in which some 28,500 students are enrolled. This means that Germany has become a major player in transnational education (TNE), a term used to describe study programmes worldwide for which a foreign university bears the principal academic responsibility – from individual study modules to study programmes to entire universities.

As far back as the late 1980s, the Australian and British universities set up so-called branch campuses in Asia. They were looking to secure new sources of financing to compensate for the decline in government funding. More and more universities in the English-speaking world subsequently developed study programmes abroad, often based on a Franchising system. The demand for such programmes has been and continues to be strong, given the huge increase in the need for academic education, especially in developing and threshold countries. Unlike the largely commercially based education exports of Anglo-Saxon universities, the German TNE model adopts a partnership approach. The projects follow on from proven higher education partnerships and are jointly planned and implemented. The study programmes are based on German curricula but are adapted to the needs of regional education systems and labour markets. 

A pioneering role was played here by the German-language study programmes that were established from 1993 onwards with Federal Foreign Office funding at universities in Eastern Europe and the former countries of the Soviet Union. In 2001, the DAAD began systematically supporting transnational education projects worldwide, with funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). The goal was to promote the internationalisation of German universities. The same year saw the founding of the German University in Cairo (GUC) with support from the universities of Ulm and Stuttgart. It has since become one of Egypt’s largest and most prestigious universities.

Today, there more than 80 German TNE higher education projects at over 60 locations in 36 countries, including a total of eight binational universities and four branch campuses. Jordan and China are the principal host countries, after Egypt, followed by Vietnam and the Sultanate of Oman. The total number of students has increased by nearly one-?fth since 2013, the number of university entrants growing by as much as 27 per cent. Around half of them are enrolled in engineering programmes, in which the German model of practice- and application-oriented research and teaching plays a major role. Another 17 per cent are studying natural sciences.

The study programmes usually involve stays in Germany

A characteristic feature of German TNE programmes is the fact that the students come into contact with Germany. Nearly all projects offer at least some of the students the opportunity to participate in integrated study stays or internships and language or summer courses in Germany. For a third of the students, the subject teaching is wholly or at least partly in German. Scholarships are provided for this using funding from the Federal Foreign Office. In addition, nearly all projects offer students the option of learning German while studying. “The students are very interested in the German language, which they see as the gateway to Germany,” says Dr. Stephan Geifes, who is responsible for the higher education projects abroad at the DAAD. Contacts with Germany are, of course, also established through the so-called ?ying faculty, German faculty staff that teach the TNE students alongside colleagues from the foreign partner universities. The German universities also bene?t from the international experience their lecturers gain in the process. Another advantage of TNE is the greater visibility of German universities on the international education market. This enhances their attractiveness to especially gifted foreign students and young researchers.

E-learning programmes are designed to help assure quality

In the case of the large binational universities, it is the host countries, to which they legally belong, that bear the larger share of the costs. The funding provided by the DAAD principally covers the deployment of German lecturers, as well as scholarships for stays in Germany. The DAAD also supports the universities in an advisory capacity, coordinates TNE projects and organises the university consortia on the German side. There are constantly hurdles to be overcome. “For instance, it’s not easy to maintain the ?ying faculty ’s interest over a number of years,” says Geifes. The search for suitable local teaching staff can also be difficult, he points out. That’s particularly true of quali?ed German teachers, of which there is a shortage in many countries. In the future, the increased use of e-learning could help to extend the deployment periods of German staff and thus assure the quality of TNE programmes. The next major project is already in the pipeline: Germany and Tunisia are currently negotiating the framework for a binational university in Tunis. A plot of land has already been found. The German-Tunisian University could begin operating in 2020.

Author: Miriam Hoffmeyer

This article was originally published in the DAAD LETTER 02/16

German TNE programmes currently or formerly funded by the DAAD, listed by major locations and providers

CAIRO, EGYPT: German University in Cairo (GUC)

AMMAN, JORDAN: German Jordanien University (GJU)

SHANGHAI, CHINA: Chinesisch-Deutsches Hochschulkolleg (CDHK), Chinesisch-Deutsche Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften (CDHAW), Shanghai-Hamburg College, mehrere Einzelstudiengänge dt. Hochschulen

HO-CHI-MINH-CITY, VIETNAME: Vietnamese German University (VGU)

MUSCAT, OMAN: German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech)

QUINGDAO, CHINA: Chinese-German Technical Faculty Qingdao (CDTF)

ALMATY, KAZAKHSTAN: German-Kazakh University (DKU)

ISTANBUL, TURKEY: Türkish-German University (TDU)

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: Andrassy University Budapest, German courses of study

SINGAPUR: TU München Asia (TUM Asia)

January 2020

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