"There is a lot of potential in connecting higher education research and practice"


The DAAD wants to intensify the exchange between research and practice in higher education

In June, the DAAD published the anthology "International Students in Germany", in which higher education researchers and practitioners address the topic from different perspectives. Three questions to Dr. Jan Kercher, DAAD expert for external studies and statistics, who explains the idea behind the publication and the DAAD's underlying transfer concept.

Mr Kercher, the DAAD has just published an anthology on the topic of "International Students in Germany" in which both higher education researchers and practitioners have their say. How did this rather unusual mixture come about?
For some years now, the DAAD has been making greater efforts to support the exchange between higher education research and practice. Because in our view, there is a lot of potential in a stronger connection between the two areas. The problem is, on the one hand, that researchers have so far communicated and discussed their findings primarily within their own community. And at the same time, practitioners do not have the time in their daily work to look for current research findings that are relevant for their practical work. The DAAD would like to address this disconnect. We see ourselves in a particularly favourable and suitable position as a link and mediator between the two areas. For, on the one hand, we process the current findings of higher education research, but at the same time we cooperate very closely with higher education practitioners, for example, with the staff in the International Offices. Against this background, we have developed various formats in recent years to intensify the exchange between research and practice.

The most recent of these is the new DAAD anthology on international students in Germany, which represents a new, innovative format due to the mixture of contributions from researchers and practitioners. On 21 June, we will also be discussing some of the contributions to the volume together with the authors at the digital DAAD Network Conference. Participants registered for the conference can already watch short presentation videos on these four contributions on the conference platform now.


Eric Lichtenscheidt

Dr Jan Kercher is expert for external studies and statistics at the DAAD

What formats are these exactly?
You can distinguish between two areas: The first concerns our own research at the DAAD. Our aim is to plan research projects in such a way that university practice is considered from the outset and included in the research process. Two current examples are the SeSaBa project on the academic success of international students in Germany and the BintHo project on benchmarking student mobility at German universities. In the BintHo project, we are currently working with 74 participating universities. In the SeSaBa project, which has been completed at the end of 2021, there were even 125 higher education institutions. In both projects, we incorporated feedback from the participating universities directly into the conception and planning process throughout the course of the project. And in the end, we also offered the universities individual evaluations of the data, at least when the number of cases made this possible in terms of data protection.

The second area concerns external studies and statistics, which we prepare in various event and publication formats for our target groups in higher education practice in such a way that they can be utilised with as little time and academic background knowledge as possible. One example of this is the digital workshop series “DAAD-Wissenschaftswerkstatt”. For this series, we regularly invite university researchers to present their current research findings to the DAAD, but also to university practitioners and other interested science organisations, and to discuss them with the audience. Last year, we also launched the short publication series "DAAD Forschung kompakt", which provides additional support for the transfer of current findings from higher education research in the area of higher education internationalisation and international academic mobility into higher education practice.

Are there any other current DAAD projects or plans in either of these areas?
Yes, we are currently developing a blog for the website of our annual flagship publication "Wissenschaft weltoffen". Here, too, the aim is for us to bring higher education research and higher education practice closer together on a regular basis, for example through short interviews with higher education researchers about their current research projects or short and comprehensible summaries of current studies and statistics on higher education internationalisation and international academic mobility. The blog will be launched in time for the publication of the new issue of "Wissenschaft weltoffen", so probably in October.

We are also in the process of strengthening our international network in our efforts to increase the exchange between research and practice. For example, since last year I have represented the DAAD in the EU-funded "European Network on International Student Mobility: Connecting Research and Practice" (ENIS), in which representatives from university research and practice from all EU countries work together and consider how the topic can be advanced throughout Europe. Such an international exchange naturally offers a large reservoir of experience and impulses, so that we will certainly not run out of ideas in the future.

(14. Juni 2022)

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