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Academic support programmes as development policy tools

The establishment of internationally competitive academic systems in developing and threshold countries plays a major role in furthering growth, prosperity and social peace. Support programmes, which are aimed at fostering academic excellence in the countries, and which are conducted as part of a development policy based on international cooperation, are therefore particularly important.

Where and how can young scholars obtain further education or training? How can interest be aroused among scholars and scientists in issues pertaining to the future of their countries? How can an academic network extending across countries and disciplines be created and used for the purpose? These questions need urgent attention if the structural constraints that hamper the efforts to organise an academic community in the least developed countries (LDCs) are to be addressed. In contrast to industrialised countries, LDCs are facing unequal competition in their endeavour to acquire new know-how.

The primary goal of German development policy is to promote the further education of specialist and management personnel, academic staff, and up-and-coming scholars and scientists. Levels of knowledge in the partner countries are raised, and the areas of research that are relevant to development are strengthened through targeted support programmes. The natural sciences, agriculture, environmental protection, engineering, economics and the social sciences are subjects that have a special bearing on the development of a country.

Forging development policy in a spirit of partnership: support programmes strengthen academic systems in poor countries

Most support programmes are oriented to the post-graduate level and to capacity development in institutions of higher education in developing countries.

The portal of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), ‘Kooperation international’, has an overview of the international education and research landscape in more than 36 countries. In addition to general information about each country, the website also provides information about academic support programmes and initiatives.

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) promotes academic cooperation between excellent German and international scientists and scholars by offering a series of research fellowships and awards. There is, for instance, the Georg Forster Research Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers, the new Capes-Humboldt Research Fellowship Programme exclusively for researchers from Brazil, and the Georg Forster Research Award that nominates academics from all disciplines in recognition of their achievements to date.

Development policy support programmes funded by DAAD

The support programmes of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) include the Development-Related Postgraduate Courses for Professionals at German institutions of higher education for young professionals and managers from developing countries. DAAD promotes diverse options for initial and continuing education and training, an example being the sur-place scholarships, which are intended primarily for future higher-education teachers from developing countries, and which are offered within the framework of post-graduate studies (up to doctoral level). The training takes place at universities in the home country or in a country in the home region, and focuses on Africa.

There are also promotion programmes aimed at strengthening institutions of higher education in the areas of theory, research and service. One of these programmes is the Higher Education Management (DIES) programme, which supports universities in developing countries in drawing up strategies to improve university management as well as the quality and relevance of the study programmes. The programme Higher Education Excellence in Development Cooperation makes effective and innovative contributions towards the realisation of the goals of development policy.

DAAD’s advanced education courses, including post-graduate courses, related to developing countries are geared towards young academics engaged in teaching and research. The focus of the Bi-cultural Master’s Programme, set up especially for Arab countries, is on the transfer of regional knowledge and the development of inter-cultural communication skills to partner universities.

April 2013

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