Internationalization Strategy

The Federal Government’s Strategy for the Internationalization of Education, Science and Research establishes a basis for stronger international networking activities, because no country can master the global challenges on its own.

© Fotolia / Anton Balazh

Global challenges such as climate change, sustainable energy supply, food security and migration do not stop at national borders. No country can answer these challenges by itself. Solutions can only emerge through transborder cooperation in education, science and research. More than 90 percent of all global knowledge is generated outside Germany. International cooperation in education, science and research is important for Germany to tap into this wealth of knowledge and to secure its competitive position as a location for science and business.

The Federal Cabinet adopted the new Strategy of the Federal Government for the Internationalization of Education, Science and Research in February 2017. The Strategy was developed under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It follows up on the Federal Government’s Internationalization Strategy of 2008 in response to new trends and challenges which have arisen and have significant impact on international collaboration in education, science and research. These trends and challenges include increasing globalization, digitalization, the further development of the European Research Area and the emergence of new global centres of innovation outside of established scientific hubs. Five target areas in particular are at the heart of the Strategy:

Strengthening excellence through global cooperation

Scientific excellence thrives on exchange and competition among the world’s best minds. The Federal Government will therefore take steps to further consolidate Germany’s position as an internationally attractive location for study and research. At the same time it will continue to remove barriers to the international mobility of German scientists. Europe remains an important point of reference throughout these measures and activities. The Federal Government will continue to actively promote deepening of the European Research Area (ERA).

Developing Germany’s strength in innovation on the international stage

As a base for high-tech activities it is important that Germany be fully integrated into global knowledge flows and value chains. Successful international networking brings immediate competitive advantage. The Federal Government will continue to promote this networking and will in particular support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in international cooperation on innovation. It will at the same time also work to shape the best possible framework conditions for cooperation, for example in such key fields as the handling of intellectual property.

Developing the international aspects of vocational training and qualifications

Germany has a vital interest in international cooperation in vocational training. Adequately trained professionals help to promote sustainable development in partner countries and are also an important precondition of German companies’ commitment in target countries. The Federal Government will take steps to expand cooperation in vocational training with industrialized and emerging countries, to increase the mobility of trainees and to further simplify the recognition of qualifications that foreign professionals have obtained abroad. The fight against youth unemployment in Europe remains an important objective.

Working with emerging and developing countries to shape the global knowledge society

As aspiring science nations, many emerging and developing countries are becoming increasingly relevant as partners in the joint design of a global knowledge-based society. The Federal Government will expand existing cooperation with emerging and developing countries and create new partnerships. In this context, digitalization offers important opportunities for facilitating greater access to knowledge. Together with our partners we want to spread good practices in scientific endeavour and contribute to the implementation of uniform global guidelines and standards.

Overcoming global challenges together

Global challenges such as climate change, health and food security do not stop at national borders. They can be successfully addressed only by transnational efforts at the European and international level. Education and research create the knowledge needed for evidence-based policies. The Federal Government will step up its efforts to ensure that barriers to effective research into global challenges are surmounted and that the relevant stakeholders at the European and international level can interact more closely with each other.

On the path to a global knowledge society

Economic and research areas are growing ever closer together and a global knowledge society is developing. Digitalization is accelerating this development to breakneck speed. The number of BMBF-funded research projects involving collaboration with international partners more than doubled between 2009 and 2015. Cooperation in education, science and research is particularly strong within the European Research Area. Europe currently accounts for almost 25% of the worldwide generation of knowledge, and its economic success will also continue to depend on its research and innovation capacity in future.

“Education, science and research stand for openness and freedom of thought. A free spirit knows no borders, it transcends them. It is this transnational way of thinking that is at the heart of the Federal Government’s Strategy for the Internationalization of Education, Science and Research.”

Federal Minister Johanna Wanka

Global innovation and production processes are involving more and more countries and industrial sectors. About one quarter of the value creation of German exports is due to services purchased abroad. This trend will strengthen in the coming years. The Federal Government’s Strategy for the Internationalization of Education, Science and Research aims to steer the path to that global community of knowledge. More synergies, more coherence, building more bridges – these are Germany’s key objectives to safeguard the competitiveness of the country while helping to find sustainable solutions to major global problems.