Sino-German Higher Education Cooperation
Bright perspectives for mutual benefit
The People’s Republic of China and Germany are strongly connected through close relations in many areas. One of crucial importance, especially looking at the future of this relationship, is the cooperation in the higher education and academic exchange fields. Long-term investment is being made in education and research as China is currently undergoing an economic-social transition in which the consistent promotion of education and training plays a key role in further developing the economy.
China handles its universities as players in a tough global competition. The country has been investing in the development of world-class universities for more than twenty years. Since 1995, Program 211 has focused on teaching in 112 universities, while Program 985 has strengthened research at 42 selected universities. Thus, it is not a coincidence that the Chinese university, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, developed the first global university ranking in 2003, better known as Academic Ranking of World Universities (AWRU) or Shanghai Ranking.
State-funding is also paying off, as Chinese universities have significantly improved their positions in international rankings. The promotion of excellence for universities, which began in 1995, was continued from 2017 under a slightly modified program, the Double World Class Universities. As a result, the proportion of people taking up a Bachelor's degree is to be increased from 33 to 40 percent. Finally, selected Chinese universities are to specialize in granting vocational Bachelor's and Master's degrees in the future.
Due to the decentralization of efforts in the education system, the majority of Chinese higher education institutions are assigned to local governments. An important result of this market-oriented deregulation policy is the increasing introduction of private educational organizations. The share of private universities was about 14 percent in 2012. While in 2016, there were already 734 non-state institutions of higher education in addition to the 2,879 regular state-owned institutions of higher education, according to the statistics provided by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) in 2016.
Cooperation between China and Germany in the education field keeps growing, as the Higher Education Compass of the German Rectors' Conference (HRK) currently lists already 1,422 official collaborations between both countries. In August 2019, 222 German higher education institutions cooperated with 348 Chinese higher education institutions and 33 other institutions.
Another important indicator of this relation is that Chinese students currently represent the largest group of international students in Germany. In last year’s summer semester there were 39,103, Chinese students that were enrolled at German universities, which is about 12% of all international students in Germany. This cooperation has been building up steadily as already in 2013, more than 19,000 students from China were aiming for a degree in Germany. In 2017, this number stepped up to 27,765 students, according to UNESCO data. Furthermore, China ranked sixth in 2016 as the target country for German students with 8,145 students from Germany moving to China to study according to DAAD research, Wissenschaft Weltoffen 2019. As Germany's co-publishing country for scientific publications, China ranked eighth among the top 10.
Since the signing of the Intergovernmental Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation in 1978, numerous and wide-ranging collaborations have developed between Germany and the People’s Republic of China. Educational cooperation between the two countries is promoted by education policy strategy talks, focusing primarily on the topics of university cooperation and student and academic mobility. In its reform efforts to improve vocational education and training, Germany is particularly attractive as a cooperation partner due to its traditionally comprehensive expertise in vocational education and training. German-Chinese cooperation in vocational education and training is one of the areas that is continuously developing. Since 2011, the Steering Committee of the German-Chinese Alliance for Vocational Education and Training has held regular meetings. Both business and educational institutions are involved.
The China Strategy published by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in October 2015 makes an important contribution to the implementation of the 2014 innovation partnership between Germany and China. This strategy forms the basis for cooperation with China in research, science and education until 2020. This cooperation is currently particularly active in the fields of innovation, environmental technologies, digital economy (industry 4.0), electromobility, life sciences and bioeconomy, as well as marine and polar research. In Germany itself, the BMBF is working together with the Federal Foreign Office and the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) to expand China's expertise at the various educational levels.
Such projects highlight that the People's Republic of China is a major partner for Germany's future international cooperation in the field of higher education, as the human and cultural capital will continuously benefit from the exchange of experiences and knowledge.