28 October 2010, No. 27/2010

Award-winning cosmopolitanism: seven universities win the Welcome Centres competition

Award for the support of foreign researchers presented

The universities of Bielefeld, Chemnitz, Erlangen-Nuremberg, Göttingen, Heidelberg and Cologne and the Technical University (TU) Munich are the winners of the third round of the Welcome Centres competition for cosmopolitan universities in Germany, which was initiated by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Telekom Foundation and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft. The winners came out on top in a field of 17 contenders with their concepts for the support of foreign researchers.

The universities presented with the award were those that had independently developed effective structures for supporting internationally mobile researchers. These universities can now refer to themselves as “Welcome Centres” within the scope of the competition and will each receive prize money of 10,000 EUR to improve their support services for foreign researchers. This same amount of funding is also being jointly granted to the universities of Bayreuth, Göttingen and Konstanz and TU Munich, who want to work with other universities to create a dedicated database for Welcome Centres. The jury, which comprised representatives of the Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Telekom Foundation and the Stifterverband as well as researchers and experts in international academic exchange, thus expressed their recognition of increasing cooperation and networking amongst the centres.

Following previous rounds in 2006 and 2008, the competition was held for the final time this year. “Our initiative’s aim has been achieved: the example of the first Welcome Centres set a precedent and is being further developed through new ideas, as can be seen from the concepts of the successful universities,” stated Enno Aufderheide, Secretary General of the Humboldt Foundation. “Foreign researchers should feel welcome in Germany – this message conveyed by the Welcome Centres is even more important in view of the current discussions on immigration and integration and one that is being heard abroad,” stressed Aufderheide.

“German universities have long been setting an example in the support they have offered their foreign guests and students. The central and regional governments must now follow suit and overcome the hurdles of the Law on Foreigners. It is namely the restrictive issuance of visas and absurdly high income thresholds for experts that make it difficult for qualified foreigners and foreign graduates to live and work in Germany. Despite this, we urgently need these people,” stated Andreas Schlüter, Secretary General of the Stifterverband.

Ekkehard Winter, Executive Director of the Deutsche Telekom Foundation, commented: “This competition has shown just how successful the transfer of best practices can be. Thanks to this transfer, we now have a whole range of internationally oriented universities in Germany that not only offer excellent research and teaching but also excellent service.”

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time researching in Germany. The Foundation maintains a network of well over 24,000 Humboldtians from all disciplines in more than 130 countries worldwide – including 44 Nobel Prize winners.

The Deutsche Telekom Foundation

was established in December 2003 to invigorate Germany as a location for education, research and technology. With capital of 100 million EUR, it is one of the largest private sector foundations in Germany. The Foundation campaigns both for grass-root and cutting-edge sponsorship and is committed to improving the educational system in the fields of mathematics, computer science, natural science and technology. It works with partners involved in early learning, secondary education, higher education and other educational, research and academic institutions.

The Donors’ Association for the Promotion of Sciences and Humanities in Germany

is a joint industry initiative to promote an internationally competitive academic system. For this purpose, it receives some 30 million euros every year in the form of donations from its member companies and sponsors as well as 100 million euros in investment income from the almost 500 foundations that it serves.

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Kerstin Schweichhart
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Georg Scholl
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