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German University Reform: Qualified in Germany Has to Become a Worldwide Symbol for Quality Again


[Professor Dr. Max G. Huber was appointed federal commissioner for international university marketing in 1998 by the foreign minister and the minister for education and research in accordance with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). As vice-president of the DAAD, Huber has been active in the area of the internationalization of German universities for many years now. Huber is dean of the Institute for Theoretical Nuclear Physics at the University of Bonn. From 1992 to 1997 Huber was the dean of the University of Bonn.]

For at least half a century German universities were a popular goal for students from all countries. Even today you will meet people in managing positions all over the world who acquired their education or did research at a German university. These people have an interest in our country, our culture, and last but not least our economy.

However, lately Germany has been losing ground in the international competition for students. Talented young scholars from Asia or Latin America will go to the United States, Australia, or Great Britain to earn a higher degree, even if that means that they will have to pay tuition fees of US$18,000 to US$30,000 per year of study.

Germany must begin to develop new strategies to regain its former position within this international market of education. First the strengths of the German university system have to be communicated in a more professional and successful manner (for example, the unity of research and teaching, the impressive diversity of disciplines, the high academic level, the availability of financial aid); then, new attractive products have to be offered in order to attract foreigners to Germany, the "heart of Europe."

Already a number of interesting initiatives exist, for instance programs run completely in English, special aid programs for foreigners, new internationally recognized degrees, and programs for guest lecturers. This is a good start, but further steps must follow.

It is not up to only the public establishments and universities to change their way of thinking and turn to reform: Industry is also called upon to help internationalize German universities by contributing its know-how and financial means, for example through Public-Private Partnerships (PPP).

If we continue to merely watch this international competition from the sidelines, we are consciously missing out on our chances for the future in this area. For a country such as Germany, which is dependent on exports, the economic decline is then predictable. "Qualified in Germany has to become a worldwide symbol for quality again."

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