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% 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. Therefore the Federal Government’s Strategy for the internationalisation of education, science and research was adopted in February 2017, establishing a basis for stronger international networking activities.

The strategy was developed under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). It follows up on the Federal Government’s Internationalisation strategy of 2008 in response to new trends and challenges which have significant impact on international collaboration in education, science and research. These trends and challenges include increasing globalisation, digitalisation, further development of the European research area, and the emergence of new global centres of innovation outside of established scientific hubs. Some target areas are at the heart of the strategy:

  • developing international aspects of vocational education and training: 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 industrialised and emerging countries, to increase the mobility of trainees and to simplify the recognition of qualifications that foreign professionals have obtained abroad. The fight against youth unemployment in Europe remains an important objective;
  • the path to a global knowledge society: economic and research areas are drawing ever closer and a global knowledge society is developing. Digitalisation 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.

Global innovation and production processes are involving increasing numbers of countries and industrial sectors. About a 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 internationalisation 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 safeguarding the competitiveness of the country while helping to find sustainable solutions to major global problems.

Source: BMBF website revised by ReferNet Germany, March 2017.