Munich first choice for dons visiting Germany

June 22, 2001

Munich has become the most popular German destination for visiting academics, according to a survey by the main sponsorship body for foreign academics.

The city's university attracted 120 visiting fellows funded over the past five years by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung (AVH), toppling traditional favourite Heidelberg University from the top of the popularity table for foreign academics.

The third most popular destination was Munich Technical University with 109 AVH fellows.

Barbara Sheldon, head of strategic planning for the AVH, said this suggested Munich had developed a good international reputation as an academic centre.

"We do not suggest to scholars where they should go, so if they choose Munich, it is probably because they have made contacts with researchers at international conferences or have read publications by scholars there," she said.

Berlin is another favourite destination. The Free University, in the western part of the city, and Humboldt University, in the former East, took fourth and fifth place in the league table. But none of the universities in former East Germany managed to attract significant numbers of visiting fellows.

Wolfgang Fruehwald, AVH president, blamed hostility to foreigners in the new German states for the under-performance of their universities in international cooperation. "We cannot tell how many highly qualified academics never even apply to research in our country because of attacks on foreigners. But it is clear that the universities in the new Länder are not playing the role in international cooperation they could be, given the quality of their equipment and personnel. This worries me."

The foundation, based in Bonn, sponsors highly qualified non-German scholars to spend extended periods researching in Germany and promotes ensuing academic contacts. It grants 500 fellowships a year and is sponsoring about 1,200 fellows. It has a network of 20,000 alumni.

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