Germany and India: Partners in Education and Research

Germany and India have been cooperation partners in education and research for decades. In the past few years in particular, this partnership has visibly intensified.

Taj Mahal in Agra
Taj Mahal in Agra © Thinkstock

India's economic development has regained momentum since 2014 after a few years of sluggish growth and the country is once again becoming a focus of global interest. India’s government is aware of the key importance of education and research for developing its full potential and is setting its ambitions on becoming one of the world's leading research nations. Germany has been India's reliable partner for many years. This is in line with the Federal Government's strategic goal to strengthen targeted cooperation with emerging economies that aim to enhance their competencies in education and research.

Dialogue Is Key

The governments of the two countries meet regularly to agree upon the priorities of cooperation between India and Germany. Education and research have been an integral element of the Indo-German Intergovernmental Consultations for a long time. The fourth Intergovernmental Consultation took place at the end of May 2017 in Berlin.

The details of cooperation are agreed upon by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research in cooperation with its Indian partner ministries at regular meetings of the Indo-German Joint Committee on Science and Technology and in the two parallel joint working groups on vocational education and training and on higher education, respectively. The 11th Joint committee meeting on science and technology took place in Berlin 8th of May 2017.

Broad Spectrum of Cooperation

The exchange of students and young researchers has skyrocketed over the past years. The number of Indian students enrolled at German universities has nearly quadrupled since 2006, rising to 15,529 and placing India at rank 2 in the list of countries with the largest number of overseas students in Germany (as of 2017). The two countries signed an agreement on 'Indo-German Partnerships in Higher Education' (IGP) at the third Intergovernmental Consultations in order to further strengthen cooperation. The partnerships will support not only joint research activities but also cooperation between students and doctoral candidates.

Bilateral funding for research projects continues to be an important pillar of Indo-German cooperation. Current projects with funding from the Federal Research Ministry focus on materials science, biotechnology, health research, sustainability research, production technologies, civil security research, and the city of the future. Funded projects are often application-oriented and yield innovations which benefit both Germany and India.

Furthermore, the major German research institutions run programmes in direct cooperation with their Indian partners.

The third pillar of cooperation is networking between the German and Indian science community through workshops, conferences and study visits to facilitate, for example, the preparation phase of joint research projects.

There is also very close bilateral cooperation in vocational education and training (VET). India is facing a huge demand for VET programmes and considers Germany an important partner in reforming the Indian VET system. The two countries are working hand in hand to identify suitable elements of the German VET system which can be exported and adapted to the Indian market. Cooperation with the private sector is an integral part of the reform and strengthened further, for example by the regional iMOVE (International Marketing on Vocational Training) office in New Delhi.

Bilateral Innovation Partnerships

The Indo-German Science and Technology Centre (IGSTC) opened its doors in Gurgaon, near New Delhi, in 2010. The Centre supports application-oriented, innovative Indo-German projects which involve excellent research institutions and, predominantly, small and medium-sized enterprises from both countries. It also hosts workshops and symposiums to promote networking between German and Indian scientists. The IGSTC is a unique institution in Germany's international cooperation portfolio and thus an extraordinary example of the joint development of innovation potentials.

The Indo-German Center for Sustainability (IGCS) at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras in Chennai is another success story of Indo-German cooperation. The IGCS offers German and Indian researchers the opportunity to conduct joint research on the topics of water management, land use, waste management and energy.