All about DAAD Fellowships
With nearly 55,000 individuals getting financial support each year, Germany is indeed an accessible academic destination.
DAAD stands for Deutscher Akademischer Austaunsch Dienst, the German Academic Exchange Service. With the DAAD scholarship, you are sponsored to live, study and do your research in Germany. In fact, studying in Germany is a scholarship in itself as education has always been either free or nominal in Germany. With a number of programmes available at all levels - undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD - Germany is an accessible academic destination. The scholarship offered by DAAD covers the living expenses. Being an expensive country, funding helps a lot. The amount of funds depend on the course and programme.
For: Students, researchers, academics, lecturers.
Forms: Free forms available online.
Selection Process: Research proposal plays a major role. Varies from programme to programme.
Anil Gaikwad received 1000 euros a month under his DAAD Sandwich fellowship program as a scholar researching on Pharmacology and Diabetes (a Sandwich programme is a term for an academic exchange model for PhD students whose PhD registration is not older than three years but would like to conduct one year of their work in Germany). With a monthly expenditure of roughly 600-700 euros, living a life with a thousand euros every month means a comfortable existence. Studies are made easier with the international degree programmes which are taught in English. So knowing German is not a prerequisite to apply, although it would help when you start studying. For these programmes, most universities expect TOEFL or IELTS scores. Some universities may ask for GMAT or GRE score depending on the topic of study. Generally, there are no admission tests: students are selected on the basis of documents they provide. DAAD has an understanding with a number of Indian institutes as well.
There are nine technical universities or TUs with which the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) have an understanding. MTech and MSc students from IITs can apply under this category. Manisha Gupta smelt an opportunity when she saw it. As an MTech student of the Center of Polymer Science and Engineering of IIT Delhi, she applied for DAAD-IIT Masters Sandwich program scholarship to carry out her final year research project in Germany in Macromolecular Chemistry.
What sets Germany apart: Germany universities stress on merging theory and practice/ research. A good university known for its research would attract the attention of the best companies to collaborate on research projects. The concept of placements is different from India. Universities do not guarantee a placement, the way several institutes in India do. Some companies might visit universities, put up notices and wait for students to respond. The four IIMs - Bangalore, Calcutta, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, as well, have an understanding. This tie up with business schools in Germany allows students to study for a semester in Germany, return to India and complete their degree from the IIM they are enrolled in. But the DAAD scholarships are much more inclusive. You don't have to be a student in an IIT or IIM to apply for one. Ranjita S was enrolled in the C U Shah College of Pharmacy, SNDT Women. University in Mumbai.
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When her research on the development of nano-particles was affected as it needed to be produced on a large industrial scale, Ranjita and her professor turned to Germany. By collaborating with a German lab, headed by Prof. Muller, Ranjita was financed under the Short Term Program for Doctoral students. The DAAD scholarship does not explicitly stipulate that scholarship holders should return to their home country. Ideally, one should, as the idea is to facilitate academic exchanges. But since one is not under an obligation to, one could look for further opportunities there. With the new Immigration Act passed in 2005, you can, after completeing your studies, remain in the country for a further one year to look for a job. A residence permit issued for the purpose of studying can be renewed, after a job has been found. The permit could be issued for up to five years. Manisha, having conducted her research on the development of silica/ sulfonated polyimide composite membranes for fuel cell applications, was offered a PhD from the same institute, Aachen University.
What you need for a research scholarship
The consent of a professor of a related subject teaching in Germany or a confirmation letter from a university is required. Look at the box below for guidelines on how to draft an email to a prospective professor who would supervise your work. It would also help to have a good grade score. But much more important is an excellent research proposal. A lot depends on your ability to convince the panel on why this research needs to be funded. Ranjita says: "The interviewer questioned me exhaustively about my depth of knowledge, the awards and quality of my research work and its future prospective. I have seen many people not making it because of the missing calibre and determination even after a few attempts. So be clear about what you would like to study, with whom and why."
What you should be prepared for
Unlike Indian universities, one has to apply for a hostel and being a university student doesn't entitle one to accommodation in a hostel. Information on student hostels is available at www.students-affairs.de/en/home/ but the site is in German. Germany has a lot of libraries like the Norman Foster Library in Free University of Berlin which has a huge library with books on every imaginable subject. There are also lots of clubs and groups which are open to outsiders. Germany museums, libraries and tourist places have discounts or special free days for students.
|Germany offers an excellent education and a rich culture |
|Q. Why Germany?|
Germany has a lot to offer particularly because the tradition goes back to Alexander Humbolt. Germany is set apart on two counts: the first is the linkage between research and teaching. Many universities focus only on teaching and less on research. This is changing a bit in India now, but in Germany this has been in practice for long. Secondly, there is a strong correlation between university and industry, which facilitates research being applied to everyday life. In addition to this, as part of the Bologna process, Germany has also introduced Bachelor and Master degrees, making it more attractive to Indian students.
Q. There are also programmes under the International Degree Programs which are taught in the English language. When was this initiative taken and what has the response been?
This began about ten years ago on a low scale and is being more actively promoted now. The numbers of programmes which are taught in English have been increased as well. Much of this has been in response to the international demand to study in Germany and secondly, a university which excels in a field would like to attract the brightest minds in that field without making the German language a barrier.
Q. What advice would you give to students who are travelling to Germany for the first time? What cultural differences should they be prepared for?
Students should be prepared to be responsible for whatever they do. The Indian social system is naturally different from Germany, where children from a very young age are taught to be self reliant. At the university, however, they are on their own with no one to tell them what to do. This is what we tell them during the pre-departure briefings as well. Secondly, one must be open to another culture. This is not to say that another culture is better, it's just different. Thirdly, do try and learn German. Many Indian students are reluctant to learn German. One might not need it as the course is in English, but to appreciate the culture and for everyday life, it does help to speak the language.
Q. What about future and potential applicants?
Firstly, plan your studies in Germany well in advance. Try getting the necessary information as soon as possible, because the sooner you get going the better it is.
Secondly, do identify the professor you want to work with. Do your bit of research and look for the professor you would like to work with. Have a look at his/her publications and then write an email. How you approach the professor is as important. This is where we step in. The DAAD office in Delhi encourages applicants to email us. We also have information centres in Pune and Chennai apart from the four interactive points in Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Mumbai. So you must approach them if you live in the same city or email, and we would gladly help a student in approaching a professor.
Q. The market to attract Indian intelligence is a competitive one. Are there any special initiatives to push the DAAD scholarship?
When we think of advertising, we think of two categories of students. The first are the scholarship holders and the second, is what I would call free movers, students who fund their own studies and are free to move from university to university. We try to attract both their attention by disseminating information in the market, nor do we separate studying in Germany from living in Germany. For us it is a complete and whole experience. Trade fairs are held as well, the last being in November 2008.
Q. What does the interviewer look for in a candidate?
If you are applying for a research programme, you must have a convincing and academically robust research proposal in hand. I cannot stress enough on how important that is. Your marks and grades are secondary. Also, you must have the support of your mentor professor in Germany.
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