Newsletter 1/2012

Research experience in Germany facilitates international careers

The Humboldt Foundation has evaluated its fellowship programme and examined how Humboldtians benefit from their research stay.

If you have been a Humboldt research fellow at an early age, you are likely to go on to have a successful career in science. This is the message contained in the evaluation of the Fellowship Programme that has just been published: more than 80% of the researchers who received their fellowships 20 or more years ago have become full professors. Of those who were fellows in the 1990s, 65% already have full professorships, and the figure for those who have held fellowships in the last ten years is already approximately 30%. These statistics refer to the large majority of Humboldtians who remain true to research; only about 20% of alumni have their main occupation in other fields.

The international fellows in the survey, who come to Germany for one to two years to work together with a German collaborative partner, rate the value of the fellowship and the research stay for their careers very highly. More than 90% consider the qualification they acquire to be important or very important for their professional advancement. The prestige attached to the fellowship, the contacts to researchers in Germany and the experience of Germany in general are all factors that have a significant impact on careers.

Approximately 17,000 research fellows from the period 1970 to 2009 were surveyed. For this purpose, the Foundation’s contact and funding data were analysed and an electronic survey of fellows and hosts in Germany as well as interviews and case studies were conducted. Apart from career paths, other aspects which receive positive responses include networking amongst Humboldtians, their long-term contacts and their image of Germany, host satisfaction and the productivity of collaborations.