Turkey: The Bridge between Europe and Asia

Germany has a long tradition of cooperation with Turkey in education and research. Diverse new collaborations emerged during the German-Turkish Science Year 2014, including the German-Turkish University.

Opening of the Turkish-German University in Istanbul © Jesco Denzel/BPA

At the launch event of the joint Year of Research, Education and Innovation 2014, Federal Research Minister Johanna Wanka and her Turkish counterpart Fikri Isik signed a joint declaration to intensify cooperation in research and innovation. At the same time, the German Research Association (DFG) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK) renewed their agreements, and the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Turkish Council of Higher Education (YÖK) signed a cooperation agreement on collaboration between German and Turkish higher education institutions.

On the German side, the Federal Research Ministry, the DAAD and DFG in particular launched funding programmes for cooperation with Turkey as did numerous foundations such as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Mercator Foundation and the Herz Foundation.

The joint Science Year 2014 highlighted priorities in research cooperation. More than 100 projects from the following areas were funded in a joint competition for ideas:

  • Key technologies, such as ICT, production technologies, nanotechnology, chemical and physical technologies, mobility, transport, logistics;
  • Global change, including health research together with biotechnology, renewable energies, energy efficiency, food and agriculture, environmental technologies, climate change, climate protection and water, and
  • Humanities and social sciences for societal challenges, particularly taking into account demographic developments, brain circulation, diversity and migration.

Numerous new collaborations have thus been established.

Established Relations

Because of its geographic position on the Bosporus, Turkey is both a bridge and an important link to the Middle East and Asia. Turkey is currently experiencing an economic boom. The Turkish government aims to achieve ambitious goals in the area of science by its 100th anniversary in 2023 and has therefore tripled its investment in this area over the last ten years.

Many Germans of Turkish Origin

There are special ties between Germany and Turkey due to the around three million people with a Turkish background living in Germany. Cooperation in the areas of culture, education and research is extremely varied.

Joint Learning and Research

More than 1000 partnerships highlight the sound relations between both countries in the area of higher education cooperation.

Furthermore, the Federal Ministry of Education, together with its Turkish partner ministry, is also funding German-Turkish research projects under the national strategy for the Internationalization of Education, Science and Research. The IntenC Programme (Intensified Cooperation) provides funding for bilateral research and training projects which lead to a lasting improvement in R&D relations between the partners and in particular to the promotion of young scientists. A new call is planned for 2015.

Cooperation between research on the one hand and business enterprises on the other plays a special role in the "2+2" innovation programme. The programme involves bringing together at least one German and one Turkish university or research institution and one German and one Turkish partner from industry.

The Turkish-German University

One of the highlights of bilateral cooperation was the opening of the Turkish-German University (TDU) in Istanbul in 2014. The first 120 students took up their studies in three bachelor and three master degree programmes in the winter semester 2013/14. The university was designed as a beacon project of German-Turkish higher education cooperation. It has five faculties: law, natural sciences, economics, art and social sciences and engineering.

In addition, the German-Turkish Advanced ICT Research Centre (GT-ARC) was established with branches in Berlin and Istanbul. The Centre is supported by German and Turkish industry and is embedded in the Federal Government's High-Tech Strategy.