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Scientist > Isabelle Harbrecht > Technische Universitaet (TU) Darmstadt furthers its connections by opening a new liaison office in Shanghai

Technische Universitaet (TU) Darmstadt furthers its connections by opening a new liaison office in Shanghai

Bridge to China

International exchange and cooperation are becoming more and more important in the higher education sector; universities are competing globally for the brightest minds. China, one of Germany’s most important economic and political partners and a country that traditionally values education, has set the development of its vast human resources as a strategic goal. During the 12th Five-Year-Plan, government reached its goal of spending 4% of the annual GDP on education. Chinese parents are looking for the best education for their offspring and, therefore, China has become an education market that cannot be ignored.

Following its long history of collaboration with Chinese universities in general and the Tongji University in particular and in coherence with its international strategy to promote mobility of students and researchers and scientific collaboration, TU Darmstadt places an even stronger focus on China. In March 2014 TU Darmstadt, a member of the TU 9 Consortium of German Institutes of Technology, established a liaison office on Tongji University’s Siping Campus in the center of Shanghai.

Fig.1: The presidents Hans Juergen Proemel (left) and Pei Gang strengthen the ties between the two universities.

Focus on technology

In terms of the number of international students, TU Darmstadt belongs to Germany’s most international universities. Currently, more than 4,000 students from over 100 different countries are enrolled at TU Darmstadt. TU Darmstadt concentrates on technology – 50% of the students are enrolled in engineering sciences. The university is internationally known for study fields such as mechanical engineering, architecture, and industrial engineering. In addition, TU Darmstadt specifically strives to provide international leadership in the increasingly important fields of energy and mobility, information and communications, and construction and housing. TU Darmstadt’s focus on technology – from the perspectives of engineering, the natural sciences, the humanities and the social sciences – ranges from fundamental research to applications for day-to-day life. With Tongji University in Shanghai, TU Darmstadt has found a complementary and equally strong partner. The two universities share a long history. As early as 1915, the first students from Shanghai arrived in Darmstadt to study. In 1980 the two universities signed a cooperation agreement, thereby establishing a formal partnership – a cooperation with pioneering character as the first partnership between a university in the People’s Republic of China and a university of technology in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Fig. 2: Tongji University´s president Pei Gang hands the keys to the new Liaison Office to Isabelle Harbrecht. (In the background: TU Darmstadt´s president Hans Jürgen Prömel)

Over the years a broad and deep partnership has evolved which is more vivid today than ever. The cooperation involves student exchanges, summer schools, joint research projects, as well as double degree programs. Qualified students can earn a Double Master in Mechanical Engineering from TU Darmstadt and Tongji University. The students spend two semesters at their home university and three semesters at the partner university. TU Darmstadt and Tongji University also offer a double doctorate in economical science. This study program is highly individualized; in addition to the general cooperation agreement, both universities sign an extra agreement specifying the study program for each doctoral candidate. In 2012, Tongji University officially became a strategic partner of TU Darmstadt. Since March 2013, this partnership is supported by the program “Strategic Partnerships and Thematic Networks” of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Within the same program, TU also coordinates a thematic network called “Semizentral: Clean Water China and South East Asia”, which aims at developing water supply and waste management systems for urban areas.

Fig. 3: Ulrich Grothus, DAAD deputy secretary general, Hans Juergen Proemel, president of TU Darmstadt, Pei Gang, president of Tongji University, and Wolfgang Roehr, Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany (left to right) celebrate the opening of the Liaison Office.

New initiatives to strengthen the partnership

Within the next years, TU Darmstadt will extend and deepen its partnership with the Tongji University in Shanghai. In particular, TU Darmstadt wishes to broaden its research cooperation by involving international companies in Shanghai. A three-dimensional cooperation between Tongji University, TU Darmstadt and the market will lead to the development of new technologies in different fields. These new initiatives will also further the exchange of scientific staff and students. A new program called “TU Darmstadt Visiting Chair” allows professors from Tongji University to visit TU Darmstadt for up to 5 months. The Chinese scientist will be involved in research and/or teaching in Darmstadt. The cooperation is no longer restricted to the bilateral relationship between two professors, but now involves the whole institute. Therefore, the Visiting Chair is an excellent measure to strengthen the sustainability of the partnership. TU Darmstadt’s liaison office at Tongji University – the first of its kind on Tongji’s campus – is an important element in fostering this partnership.

Pictures: © TU Darmstadt

TU Darmstadt, GDP, DAAD, MBMF, University Shanghai, Zongji University, lab&more cooperation,

L&M int. 3 / 2014

The articles are publishes in issue L&M int. 3 / 2014.
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