For historical reasons, the European dimension plays an important role in the Australian education and research landscape. In 1994, Australia was therefore the first country to conclude a Science and Technology Agreement with the European Union. The bilateral institutional collaboration between Germany and Australia is based on an intergovernmental agreement of 1974.
The positive developments in education collaboration are reinforced by an agreement on the mutual bestowal of research awards between the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) and the Australian Research Council (ARC). There are also agreements (in the form of MoUs) between the German Research Association (DFG) and the Australian Research Council (ARC) as well as the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
The partnership focuses on bilateral research cooperation in the following areas:
The aim is to improve the coordination of the funding programmes and to develop an information network. At the same time, young researchers are to be given increased support through bilateral summer courses and workshops.
The DAAD Information Centre Sydney, which was opened in June 2003, provides active support to scientific collaborations between the two countries.
According to the Higher Education Compass of the University Rectors' Conference (HRK), there are 169 cooperation agreements between German and Australian universities (this information dates from September 2005). In many cases, these partnerships help reduce the problem of tuition fees by means of individual agreements.
In September 1998, a protocol on the mutual recognition of school, vocational school and university qualifications was signed by the Central Office for Foreign Education of the Conference of Länder Ministers of Cultural Affairs (KMK) on the German side and the National Office of Overseas Skills Recognition, a bureau of the Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST), on the Australian side.
Student and researcher exchange programmes are the most important instrument of bilateral cooperation in higher education. They are mainly funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).
Ten Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) research scholarships were awarded to Australians in 2003; about the same number as were given to British or Italian researchers. In 2003, three of the seventy-five AvH research awards were given to Australian scientists.
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