Funding for Higher Education Institutions

International engineers work on a drone project with the help of a laptop and notes in a modern high-tech laboratory. 
© iStock

The DAAD and other funding organisations in Germany have exciting funding opportunities available for higher education institutions. These funding schemes support international cooperation between higher education institutions as a general rule.

In most cases, a German partner university submits the application for the funding. Has your institution got a cooperation with a German higher education institution? Would you like to strengthen and expand this cooperation? Check out some of the project funding schemes available below and write to your German partner to express your interest!

University Cooperation

More information on higher education cooperation with Germany can be found here: University Cooperation

More on current German-funded programmes in South Africa can be found here: German-funded Programmes in South Africa

The programme “Partnerships for sustainable solutions with Sub-Saharan Africa – measures for research and integrated postgraduate education and training” supports cooperative partnerships between African partners and German universities, non-university research institutes and companies.

The aim of the programme is to deliver graduate training coordinated with research aspects in the following topics:

funding period 2016-2021: bioeconomy, sustainable urban planning and raw materials strategy

funding period 2021-2024: circular economy, food production and processing, logistics and traffic.

The long-term objective is to contribute to the formation and further development of teaching and research capacities in the partner countries. Cross-sectional issues between the three subject areas are also to be addressed.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

With funds provided by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the DAAD supports the programme ‘SDG Partnerships’ which focuses on the planning, development and implementation of higher education partnerships between German higher education institutions and higher education institutions in developing countries. As a result, it aims to contribute to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the framework of the 2030 Agenda as well as the sustainable strengthening of structures at the partner higher education institutions .

Funding is provided for the development and revision of relevant teaching / learning materials for the project implementation, the implementation of events, advanced training and further education and project-related stays; the realization of target group-oriented public relations as well as the implementation of relevant research.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

Dialogue on Innovative Higher Education Strategies (DIES) is jointly coordinated by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Rectors‘ Conference (HRK) and funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). DIES offers a bundle of measures – training courses, dialogue events, projects and partnerships – that foster professionalisation of institutional management processes, alignment of education to international quality standards and strengthening of research capacities. Moreover DIES-alumni are supported to pass on their acquired knowledge which furthers multiplication on a national level.

DIES Programme Lines

DIES Training Courses – DIES training courses offer practical multi-part continuing education programmes for managerial staff at higher education institutions in developing countries.

DIES Dialogue – Conferences, seminars, and information visits are dialogue events that create forums for regional and transregional exchange on current reform topics in university management.

DIES Projects – DIES projects each focus on one particular thematic area. They combine the DIES programme components dialogue events and training courses. This merge of tools is the key attribute of the DIES projects, along with the long-term cooperation with the regional partners. Here, the DAAD and the HRK themselves are usually engaged as cooperation partners.

DIES Partnerships – DIES partnerships support cooperation between German higher education institutions and partners in developing countries in the area of university management and are aimed at bringing about structural improvements at the participating higher education institutions.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

The programme supports the development of competence centres by German universities and their partners in developing countries. Together they will be able to make valuable contributions to solving major development challenges.

The aim of the initiative is to strengthen certain areas of higher education, such as teaching, research, and services, so that together they can make effective and innovative contributions to realising the development goals of the United Nations.

Five years after the start of the programme, five globally active networks were established with financial support from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), focusing on the following key themes:

  • Water and resources management
  • Decent work
  • Food security
  • Medicine

Following their successful evaluation, the existing exceed networks started a new funding phase from 2015 to 2019. The second phase of the programme is based on the sustainable development goals (SDG) of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

The programme funds degree programmes at universities and universities of applied sciences which, after studies completed partly at the German and partly at the foreign higher education institution, award both national degrees (as a joint degree = award of a joint degree, or as a double degree = award of the degrees of both partner universities possible).

More on the funding scheme can be found here.

In view of the enormous potential for connecting with international education systems and their programmes, the situation seems paradoxical: on one hand, the flow of information and data seems unlimited, yet on the other, the local framework conditions for gaining access to higher education and e-learning opportunities is frequently restricted by the university itself. In other words, German universities still struggle to take full advantage of digital forms of communication and cooperation.

The programme, International Mobility and Cooperation through Digitalisation (IMKD), financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), addresses this problem. It is targeted at universities that see digitalisation as an opportunity to rethink international university partnerships and want to use digital instruments as tools for their own internationalisation strategies. The universities are encouraged to recognise the “student journey” as the focus of their efforts and to implement digital elements in support of students on this journey.

The International Mobility and Cooperation through Digitalisation (IMKD) programme aims to achieve the following four goals:

  • Digital teaching and learning formats should be integrated into transnational curricula and study programmes.
  • Instructors, university administrators and students should obtain corresponding methodological knowledge and digital competence through the development of digital teaching-learning scenarios.
  • Service-oriented, digital infrastructures should be implemented at universities to support teaching and learning processes, as well as student mobility.
  • Student mobility between partner universities should be simplified by means of transparent teaching and learning programmes and modern digital administrative procedures.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

Digital transformation is currently changing the German and international higher education landscape to a significant degree. Until now, Germany’s high appeal in the international eye as a location for study and academia has in essence been predicated on its offer of attendance programmes. This is rapidly changing, however, due to the huge digitisation push that German higher education institutions have experienced given the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular in the Anglo-American area, the demand for digital courses is increasing and as a consequence their supply. Digital study programmes enable new forms of study as they overcome physical distance and frequent restrictions to mobility. The deployment of digital media, innovative teaching and learning tools and the use of virtual platforms for data exchange do not merely promote interaction between students. Digital study is also shaping a new image of higher education in Germany with innovative study programmes that are indispensable for international competitiveness. The intended additional interlinkage through local teaching and learning opportunities offers a high potential for new forms of intercultural exchange.

DAAD intends to use the IP Digital call for applications to make a central contribution to advancing the digitisation of already successful masters study programmes that are internationally oriented and assist higher education institutions to meet the huge increase in demand for digital courses. In addition, impetus and models for internationally compatible digitisation standards are to be created at German higher education institutions.

IP Digital has two main objectives:

  • German higher education institutions (individually or in partnerships) offer internationally oriented digital study programmes.
  • The competences and structural framework conditions for further digitisation of the participating higher education institutions are available and can be applied to develop further digital study courses.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

International Study and Training Partnerships (ISAP) are institutional cooperative structures between German and international universities, in which groups of highly qualified German and international students can complete a fully recognised part of their degree programme at a partner university.

ISAP contributes towards the internationalisation of the participating universities by means of institutional cooperative structures, e.g. through the agreement of credit transfer rules, joint curriculum development or the preparation of double degrees.

The partnerships are intended to run for a longer period in principle. The German universities are encouraged to create the foundations for ongoing, mutual exchange by providing an attractive range of programmes for international students.

ISAP can be funded in all subject areas; however, the student exchange must take place within the framework of subject-related partnerships (at institute, subject area or departmental level).

More on the funding scheme can be found here.

Universities of applied sciences are highly regarded in Germany and around the world, especially for their practical orientation. Many of these universities wish to enhance their international standing even further. To this end, the DAAD helps students and researchers at universities of applied sciences carry out study and research visits abroad. It also supports universities in their efforts to establish cooperation projects with international partners. The UAS.International programme enables universities of applied sciences to cultivate contact with foreign institutions and anchor international partnerships within their own institutional infrastructure. The DAAD also provides consultation, continuing education and dialogue programmes to accompanying these measures.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

International Research Training Groups (IRTGs) are structured doctoral programmes run by German universities in conjunction with universities or research institutions abroad. They are funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation – DFG). As bilateral collaborations, they train scientists and academics at different stages of their careers, with a particular emphasis on doctoral researchers. IRTGs promote systematic research cooperation through joint research and qualification programmes as well as through cooperative cross-border supervision of doctoral researchers. A central feature of International Research Training Groups is the coordinated and reciprocal research visits by doctoral researchers at the respective partner institutions. IRTGs can only be established by a university, university of technology or an equivalent higher education institution which has the legal right to confer doctoral degrees (hereafter referred to as “Higher Education Institutions – HEIs”). Project-specific costs of the German university are funded through a grant of DFG. The IRTG’s partner institution abroad has to provide complementary funding acquired from a national source.

The South African National Research Foundation (NRF) and DFG have agreed on a joint application/funding scheme to support South African-German International Research Training Groups.

More info on the funding scheme can be found on the website of the NRF here, and on the website of the DFG here.

-This programme will no longer be advertised-

In the last few years, biodiversity issues have steadily increased in importance in the context of the international development agenda. As research into biodiversity in Germany is very well developed compared with other countries, it is essential to exploit the vast potential of German universities in this field more extensively. In order to achieve this, the aim is to strengthen structures in teaching and research at partner institutions in the field of biodiversity, thus supporting the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity in partner countries.

In the long term, the various Biodiversity Quality Network measures are aimed at enabling partner institutions to offer study and qualification courses relating to biodiversity. These courses should suit the local context and correspond to the state of science. The biodiversity topics should be anchored in the research focuses of the participating institutions. On the German side, German universities and research institutions have acquired expertise in development cooperation, and development-related networks have been established between the participating institutions in the field of biodiversity.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

This funding scheme supports cooperative partnerships between African partners and German universities, non-university research institutes and companies.

The aim of this integrated approach is to interlink joint work on a research topic and its practical implementation with measures for joint postgraduate education and training. The key areas of the cooperative partnerships are urban development, bioeconomy and resource management (funding period 2016-2020) as well as circular economy, food production and processing, logistics and traffic (funding period 2021-2024). The DAAD is responsible for programme management relating to the postgraduate education and training component; the research collaboration component is managed by the BMBF’s International Bureau, which is part of the DLR (German Aerospace Center) Project Management Agency.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

-This programme will no longer be advertised-

In order to prevent a possible brain drain of professionals and nursing staff in the health sector in developing countries, the Partnerships for the Health Sector in Developing Countries (PAGEL) programme supports high-quality training and continuing education opportunities in the medical field in developing countries.

The programme supports the development of curricula and capacities at the partner universities by means of bilateral or multilateral university partnerships, support for returning graduates, support for alumni and the creation of professional networks. In addition, development-related professional networks between students, alumni, and experts in the health sector are to be established. Sustainable development structures are expected to also develop between the participating universities.

More information on the funding scheme can be found here.

With this funding scheme, the DAAD funds the improvement and development of teaching in partner countries as well as structure building and capacity building at universities in partner countries. Higher education cooperation in curriculum development and the establishment of international study programmes are some of the focuses of the funding programme. Under the funding scheme money is made available for exchanges of university lecturers, PhD students and students who are involved in the partnership.

The German partner university submits the application for the funding.

More info on the funding scheme can be found here (in German).

Advertisements by German Universities

Kick-start your future career in Financial Management at Coburg Univer...

If you are interested in management and finance our premium MBA program Financial Management could be just right for you! The program features an optional Dual Degree from UniSC Australia and a Bloomb...


Truly international – Study at ESB Business School!

Do you want to study in the heart of Germany, Europe’s strongest and most dynamic economy? Come to ESB Business School at Reutlingen University!



  • DAAD Information Centre Johannesburg

    Jorissen Street SM3151, Third Floor, Solomon Mahlangu House, University of the Witwatersrand. | PO Box 269, Wits 2050, Johannesburg, South Africa, Johannesburg Telephone: +27 (0) 11 717 9334
Screenshot of map with location of DAAD-office marked