TU Munich: An international beacon

Ana Santos (2nd f.l.) and Wolfgang A. Herrmann (3rd f.l.) during a visit of the

Ana Santos (2nd f.l.) and Wolfgang A. Herrmann (3rd f.l.) during a visit of the liaison office in São Paulo, which was founded in 2012. Image: Claudio Belli / TUM São Paulo

One of the particular strengths of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) is its presence on the international stage. Current statistics illustrate why TUM has the strongest draw among German universities when it comes to students and scientists from abroad.

Before departing on his trip to Brazil, where TUM maintains its own liaison office in São Paulo , TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann commented on the TUM international network policy. In the current 2020 QS World University Ranking, TUM is nationally in 1st place for the indicator "International Students", followed by the Technical Universities in Berlin, Aachen, Darmstadt and Karlsruhe.
"The 2020 QS Ranking shows that in terms of engineering and physical scientific disciplines, Germany is especially attractive in foreign countries," said TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann, adding that it is now important that the values embodied by "German Engineering" are vigorously applied to the issues facing society as a new challenge. "This makes ’Human-Centered Engineering’ the ultimate priority for the future. Anyone who fails to actively tie in Engineering Sciences recursively with the Humanities, Social Sciences and Management Sciences will not be a modern Technical University tomorrow. This approach to thought and action therefore enjoys a central position in our university’s Excellence Strategy 2019 ." He went on to say that it would be wise to follow the examples of Stanford and MIT, since the German Engineering curriculum is regrettably lagging behind in this respect.

At present almost every third TUM student is from a foreign country, while other major universities as a rule rate at significantly less than 20 percent. 22 percent of TUM scientists are from abroad, another top value. And TUM is also far ahead of the rest of Germany in terms of student and staff mobility: Approximately 1,400 TUM members took advantage of the EU Erasmus program during the 2016-2017 academic year. During the reference year 2017 the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provided support to a total of 456 TUM members, once again the highest value for Germany, putting TUM above Dresden, Free University of Berlin, Heidelberg, Freiburg and LMU Munich.

TUM is also in the lead when it comes to faculty members with foreign nationalities (18 percent). Of the 144 professors appointed since 2012 in the TUM Tenure Track system , 49 percent are from foreign universities and research institutes, primarily from the USA and the United Kingdom. TUM is also the leader in top faculty members from abroad who are appointed to Alexander von Humboldt professorships (6).

For almost 20 years now TUM has operated TUM Asia Pte.Ltd. in Singapore, which at its founding was the first foreign branch of a German university. In addition to a large number of technical degree programs, almost 100 doctoral candidates work on the CREATE Campus , a facility of the National Research Foundation Singapore (NRF), in the field of traffic infrastructure and logistics, including electro-mobility for megacities. Partnerships with international centers of education and business are established through the TUM liaison offices in Latin America (São Paulo), North America (San Francisco), India (Mumbai), Egypt (Cairo) and Europe (Brussels). TUM has joined the Technical University of Denmark Copenhagen, the Technical University in Eindhoven, EPF Lausanne, École Polytechnique Paris and Technion Haifa in the "EuroTech Universities Alliance" .

In the future-oriented Excellence Strategy 2019 concept of the German federal and state governments, TUM is following its own example in Singapore by establishing the new TUM.London campus. The objective is, in spite of all the Brexit controversy, to maintain a presence in one of the most important European metropolitan centers with education and research programs, preferably in alliance with the renowned Imperial College London. And new inroads are being made in the as yet neglected continent of Africa: With a focus on Ghana, viable new educational and research policy infrastructures are taking shape together with the Ghanaian Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

The Shanghai Ranking (ARWU) , in which the trio TUM - LMU - Heidelberg consistently holds the lead in national comparison, also reflects the numerous TUM publications from international partnerships: Here too TUM takes 1st place in Germany, authoring over 18,300 publications in the period from 2014 to 2018 (Scopus database).

With 158 million euros in EU research funding (Horizon 2020; 2014-2020) TUM is once again in 1st place for Germany, besting Karlsruhe and LMU Munich. In a tie with LMU Munich, TUM was awarded 60 ERC research grants (2014-2020), more than TU Dresden (22), KIT (18) and RWTH Aachen (16) together. The two Munich universities are the mavericks in national comparison.

"A university that wants to equip its students with optimum career preparation for the job markets of tomorrow has to think and act internationally and constantly measure its performance against the best international competitors," say President Herrmann, explaining the TUM policy. "True international character is the connection between home and the world." He went on to say that for TUM "home" is not limited to the European metropolitan region Munich, but rather also lives in regional locations such as Straubing (Lower Bavaria) and Burghausen (southeast Bavaria) , each with its own academic profile. The newest location Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg is a signal that uniquely qualifying German characteristics can be made visible around the world by the alliance of first-class technology centers - above and beyond domestic German state boundaries, President Herrmann said.

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