Exchange agreement with Germany

Study and Research in Germany

For many years, young Hong Kong scientists have gone to English-speaking countries to do research degrees and train as research scientists. This is natural as English is used in learning situations in these countries. However, the Foundation believes it is important for Hong Kong to also have exposure to non-English speaking scientific nations which are among the top in the world, and Germany is one of them.

The Foundation therefore wishes to encourage young people to do doctoral degrees or post-doctoral fellowship research in Germany. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in March 2001 between the Foundation and the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD, German Academic Exchange Service), one of the major organisations for academic exchange in Europe. Under this Memorandum, DAAD will disseminate information on universities and research institutions throughout Germany and help identify the most appropriate host institution. Supervision will be conducted in English. For facilitating life in Germany, DAAD highly recommends a two months basic German language training. This course will be provided by DAAD and will take place before the start of the Croucher Foundation scholarship. In return, the Croucher Foundation undertakes to provide comprehensive financial support in such areas as fees, living expenses, airfare, etc., to these young researchers, on similar terms to its Fellowship and Scholarship schemes.

The DAAD-representative in Hong Kong is most willing to provide advice and assistance during the application process.

Dr. Siegbert Klee
DAAD Information Centre Hong Kong & Macau
Room 1122, Academic & Administration Building
Hong Kong Baptist University
Kowloon Tong, Kowloon
Tel.: 3411 5666; Fax: 3411 2749

Germany has a large variety of institutions at a high academic level that operate in science and education. There are about two hundred universities and technical universities offering academic education from first degree (Bachelor, Diplom or Magister) to Doctorate and Postdoctorate in a vast number of disciplines. They are mainly funded by the federal government, only a few institutions are private. To get an idea about the location of universities and research institutes in Germany, please click the “science map” compiled by the Federal Ministry of Research and Education. Please find below the information of some of the scientific institutions in Germany which may be of interests to potential applicants:

The German Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (HRK, i.e. the Association of Universities and other Higher Education Institutions) is the body which unites institutions of higher education in Germany. Its functions include representing the interests of higher education institutions in political decision-making and informing the public about German higher education institutions. Therefore it offers a university guide on their website with either the whole list of departments that offer courses for doctorates or chosen places for a certain discipline. Although the list itself uses German names of the institutes, the respective links often provide English websites.

Max-Planck-Institutes are dedicated to basic research. Their work covers a wide range of research areas selected from the biological and natural sciences as well as medical sciences and the arts and humanities. Max-Planck-Institutes contribute substantially to the education and training of junior scientists. More than 3000 undergraduates, doctoral candidates and scholarship recipients are working each year in one of the 80 Max-Planck-Institutes. Roughly 700 doctoral dissertations and 20 post-doctoral dissertations are completed annually. About 3000 guest scientists and scholars a year work at the institutes. A list of institutes can be found at

The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a leading organisation of applied research. It undertakes contract research on behalf of the industry, the service sector and the government. Commissioned and funded by the Federal and Lander (states) governments, the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft undertakes strategical research projects which contribute to the development of innovations in key technologies and spheres of major public concern, such as energy, transportation and environment. The Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft is a recognised non-profit organisation and currently maintains 48 research establishments throughout Germany. More information about the Institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft can be found at

The Hermann-von-Helmholtz Association of National Research Centres is the union of 16 non-university affiliated research institutions like the Julich Research Center or the German Center for Air and Space Travel (DLR). The Helmholtz Centres do basic and preventive research as well as technical development for the industry in natural science/technical as well as biological/medical fields. Their research emphasises environmental research, geosystems, energy and health care. More information about the Hermann-von-Helmholtz Association and their centres can be found at (only German version).

The Leibniz Association is a research organisation made up of 79 non-university research institutes and service facilities in Germany. The tasks undertaken by the institutes range from regional infrastructure research and economics through research projects in the area of social sciences to natural sciences, engineering and environmental research. The Leibniz institutes are demand-oriented, interdisciplinary centers of competence, which regard themselves as co-operation partners for industry, public administration and politics; scientific co-operation with universities is particularly close and intensive. More information about the Leibnitz Association and their institutes can be found at (only German version).

The above mentioned research institutes advertise vacant positions for doctorates on their websites. You have to keep in mind, however, that research institutes cannot grant doctorates. The doctorate will be gained at a university which co-operates with the respective research institute. The German Doctoral Degree may be a bit different from other countries: The core of the doctorate is a research project. Normally, doctoral candidates do not attend taught courses. They pursue their project under the supervision of and in very close co-operation with a professor, the “Doktorvater” (i.e. Ph.D. supervisor). In recent years, however, international PhD programmes have been established which are particularly suitable for doctoral candidates from abroad. These 3-year-programmes offer research positions in small, interdisciplinary group, close co-operation with your academic supervisors and accompanying seminars.

  • DFG’s Research Traning Programme (Graduiertenkolleg) and
  • Max Planck International Research Schools
  • PHD – “Promotion an Hochschulen in Deutschland”

The Graduiertenkollegs are a university institution which promote the development of scientific staff in a defined research area where the doctoral candidates pursue their thesis work in the framework of a systematic and interdisciplinary study programme and in joint groups of researchers who co-ordinate their research activities. At the Graduiertenkollegs 16.6% of the scientific staff are international scholars at doctoral, 38% at postdoctoral level. There are 85 Graduiertenkollegs for Biology/medicine, 97 for Natural Sciences, 41 for Engineering. A list of the Graduiertenkollegs can be found on the website of the DFG,

International Max Planck Research Schools are newly established programmes which are meant to promote international collaboration and to significantly increase the interest amongst foreign applicants for earning a Ph.D. degree in Germany. The applicants are selected according to their qualifications and aptitude for special fields of research by the scientists involved in setting up the respective Schools. Through the collaboration between Max Planck Institutes and universities, attractive training and research possibilities are being made available for doctoral candidates. A list of the schools can be found at

PHD – “Promotion an Hochschulen in Deutschland” is a new programme geared towards highly qualified foreign applicants who wish to pursue their doctoral studies at a German university. More than 30 programmes in a wide range of disciplines have been established by now. A list of the programmes and a short description can be found at

For postdoc-visits, the scientific orientation will mainly determine the choice of an institute. Generally speaking, the international environment of many of the non-university research facilities like the Max-Planck- and the Fraunhofer-Institutes as well as some institutes of the Leibnitz Association attract most of the foreign postdocs. They advertise vacant positions for postdocs and doctorates on their websites. However, as Croucher scholars do not require funding from the German side, he or she should simply contact any institute of interest and ask for possible cooperation.

Potential applicants may also find the following links useful:
In addition to information about research at German higher education institutions, this website offers in-depth descriptions of non-university research activities at important German research institutions. The site contains a wide range of information about frequently asked questions concerning possible research opportunities in Germany. (English version available)
This research portal is a gateway to Germany’s research establishment. Information about research institutions can be found using the search engine or the map. (English version available)
This website offers both information on German universities for prospective students and resources to help foreign students navigate and understand the German educational system.
Students can find information about international degree programs at German universities at the link above.

The Croucher Foundation is the first and only private body in Hong Kong which has been invited into a partnership agreement with DAAD. Students and young scientists who are interested in seeking Croucher support should be mindful of the date when applications are open for Croucher Fellowships and Scholarships (see relevant section on this website).

Last Modified: 07/09/2016