March 14, 2012
Source:The Crust Edition
Traditionally educational collaborations between Germany and India have been limited to Indological studies, but with changing times, the nature of this relationship has seen a dramatic transformation.
The number of Indian students studying in German universities has seen a sharp rise in recent years — and it is cutting- edge scientific research that beckons them.But this relationship is not a one- way street. German universities, too, are looking at their Indian counterparts to fill their skill gaps, especially in emerging areas of research. For Master’s students and research scholars, is an opportunity waiting to explore.
Speaking at the recent threecity German Study & Research Expo India 2012, Ulrich Podewils, who represented the top- ranked Freie University, Berlin, drew out contours of this collaboration. "We wish to have greater links with leading Indian universities the Master’s and research levels,” said Podewils, who was previously the director of the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD) in India.
The largest of Berlin’s four universities, Freie University is one of Europe’s most prestigious research centres, especially in the humanities and social sciences, with 140 global partnerships, including ones it has sealed with Cambridge ( UK), Cornell, Stanford and Yale. Now, clearly, it is looking to acquire the same kind of formidable reputation in the science and technology. Podewils identified Molecular Medicine, Neuroscience, Physics, Chemistry and Polymer Science as “some of the key areas that offer possibility for joint research” between Freie University and Indian institutions. To facilitate joint research, German universities today offer more than 500 international degree programmes in English. This has clearly had its desired impact on Indian student numbers in Germany. “ Since 2008, the number of Indian students in German universities has soared by 43 per cent,” Podewils said.
The nature of courses offered by Freie University is indicative of the kind of diversity the German university system presents to its students. A Master’s level research prorgamme, for instance, is titled ‘ History of European Notions of Space and Extraterrestrial Life in the 20th Century’ and is immensely popular. The professor who steers this programme, C. T. Geppert, recently led a team of researchers at the university’s Friedrich Meinecke Institute to delve into the declining popularity of space expeditions and came up with a plausible explanation. “Most of our expeditions to moon and mars were hinged on our expectation of finding life in space,” Geppert said in his report. “ So it was a huge disappointment when we could not find the slightest evidence of life there. People have become sceptical about space travel. The focus now is on our own planet and conserving its resources,” the research team leader added. Courses offered in English and interesting mixes of subjects are not the only hooks that Freie University and other German institutions are using to draw in more international students. Germany now allows international students to stay on for a year after completing their courses to look for job. International students are also permitted to work for up to 90 full days or 180 half days in a year on their university campuses. “Under the new system, candidates can work for four years in Germany in their chosen area of specialisation because there’s a dearth of skilled professionals in our country,” Podewils said.</p><p> The demand for skilled professionals is so high that students who complete their Master’s programmes and research in Electrical, Computer and Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry and Physics are promptly offered post- doctoral positions.Germany is an opportunity that Indian students haven’t explored in depth. It’s time they did.