Universities Australia today announced the formation of a major science and research exchange agreement between Australian universities and those in one of the most research-intensive industrial countries in the world — Germany.
The signing of a letter of intent between the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Universities Australia in Canberra starts a process that will see the development of a Memorandum of Understanding cementing a new joint partnership program later in the year.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is the largest funding organisation in the world supporting the international exchange of students and scholars. Since its foundation in 1925 it has provided funding for more than 1.9 million scholars in Germany and abroad.
The purpose of the agreement is to encourage universities in Germany and Australia to provide matched funds for established and up-and-coming scientists and researchers to undertake research in their partner country.
“Today we are seeing the beginning of a new and exciting partnership that will see Australia further collaborate and work with a country that is considered a research and innovation powerhouse,” said Belinda Robinson, Chief Executive of Universities Australia.
“By increasing our participation in research partnerships worldwide, Australia not only enhances our national capacity to increase research output, such as co-authored research publications, but we enable our researchers to collaborate on frontier research projects and translate the findings into localised solutions for Australians,” Ms Robinson said.
Ms Robinson said that over the years, many German academics have indicated a desire to collaborate with Australian researchers through the DAAD but the lack of an overarching, sector-wide agreement has prevented them from doing so.
“We are now at a point where interest from both German and Australian universities is strong enough that developing a sector-wide formal program is the next logical step,” Ms Robinson said.
The DAAD President Professor Margret Wintermantel said that “the agreement is a breakthrough for academic relations between Germany and Australia. It sets the stage for far-reaching collaboration with all the universities in the country.”
Once agreed, the scheme will be open to all Universities Australia member universities with the first Australia-wide round opening in 2015 for 2016 projects.