Germany and Australia are close partners in research and higher education. Cooperation between the two countries is strengthened by student and researcher exchanges.

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Australia is an industrialized country with a well-developed and broad research landscape. The priority goal of Australia's research policy is to position the country as a strategic high-tech location in the Asian region. The areas of education in which the Australian government actively develops policies are mainly centred on vocational training and higher education. Cooperation with Germany in the areas of education and research has been developing in an extraordinarily positive way.

Cooperation Trailblazers

German-Australian cooperation dates back to an intergovernmental agreement signed in 1976. Furthermore, Australia and the European Union also signed an Agreement Relating to Scientific and Technical Cooperation in 1994 which provides German-Australian cooperation with opportunities to involve also other EU partners. Moreover, German and Australian funding and research organizations and universities have also signed several direct agreements. There has been a Protocol on the Mutual Recognition of School, Vocational School and University Degrees since 1998.

Joint Research

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research headed a delegation to Australia in December 2014 to discuss how to flesh out scientific and technological cooperation. One future priority of cooperation will be to promote innovation, for example by bringing together German research clusters and their Australian counterparts. Both sides feel very strongly about involving young researchers, too.

Successful Bilateral Cooperation

University collaborations are an important element of German-Australian cooperation. According to the Higher Education Compass portal hosted by the German Rectors' Conference, there are currently 521 cooperation agreements between German and Australian universities (March 2015). Of the countries in the Asia-Pacific region, only China and Japan have signed more cooperation agreements with German universities.

Exchanges of students and academics, which are mostly funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), are the most important tool of bilateral university cooperation. Initially, the DAAD and the Group of Eight (the coalition of Australia's eight leading universities) launched a Joint Research Cooperation Scheme in 2008. This initiative was continued and further expanded in December 2014 when the DAAD and Universities Australia (the peak body representing 39 Australian universities) signed the Memorandum of Understanding on the Australia-Germany Research Cooperation Scheme, in which over 30 Australian universities are now taking part.

Applicants from Australia are among the most successful applicants for sponsorship by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The Humboldt Foundation awarded 27 research fellowships and 2 research awards to Australian researchers in 2014.

The Technical University of Braunschweig and the University of New South Wales in Sydney began to set up a German-Australian research group in 2009 under the 'German Research Presence in Asia' programme funded by the BMBF. The multidisciplinary research group generates knowledge and technological solutions along the entire product cycle within the field of 'Sustainable production and life cycle management'.

The German Research Association (DFG) has been funding the first German-Australian international research training group 'IRTG Molecular Pathogenesis of Male Reproductive Disorders', a collaborative project between the University of Giessen and Monash University in Melbourne. Under this programme, doctoral candidates conduct a longer period of  research at a foreign partner institution. Similar projects are currently in the pipeline.

Cooperation With Europe

Connecting Australian-European Science and Innovation Excellence (CAESIE) is a bilateral partnership project between the European Union and Australia. The project, which is funded by the EU Commission, aims at promoting and developing collaborations in science, technology and innovation. CAESIE is specifically targeted at collaborations between small and medium-sized enterprises and researchers who work hand in hand to develop solutions to the challenges our societies are faced with: clean energy, health technologies for ageing societies, and sustainable urban development.