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Danijela Estermann Pavlica, Manager Of The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)

Many Opportunities For Academics

DAAD offers several types of scholarship for each level of study. Excellent students from Serbia can apply. In addition, DAAD scholarships are aimed at the mobility of teaching and non-teaching staff, then at organising seminars, workshops, conferences and at purchasing apparatus for laboratories

DAAD has been present and active in Serbia with its scholarship programmes and DAAD lecturers since the 1970s, but the Belgrade DAAD Information Centre was only founded in 2009. The growing need for faster communication and information exchange between German and Serbian universities led to the establishment of our information centre. Also, since 2003, Serbia has become part of the European higher education area, and universities in Serbia, as members of the European and International Association of Universities, are increasingly turning to internationalisation. The international exchange of teachers and students has been intensified. These were all conditions for DAAD to activate more and more programmes in cooperation and exchange with Serbia. “That’s why we can today boast of our 69 collaborations between Serbian and German universities,” says Danijela Estermann-Pavlica, manager of the German Academic Exchange Service.

Just as DAAD is present in Germany at all universities, DAAD is also present in Serbia through cooperation, conferences and exchanges at all universities in the country. “But if we talk about offices, DAAD is present through the Belgrade Information Centre as the only one in the Western Balkans, and three lectureships – at the University of Belgrade, the University of Novi Sad and one lectureship shared by the universities of Niš and Kragujevac,” explains our interlocutor.

It states on your website that you must take eight steps to get to the desired place of study. On average, how long does it take for students to master those steps and how do you help them along the way?

From the initial step, which consists of finding a suitable study programme at one of the German universities, to the last, which is the actual enrolment in studies, it takes about a year of good preparation.

Our centre advises on the choice of the best programme, explains the application process to universities and the conditions for enrolment in the desired programme, checks the financing options – researching which scholarships could cover which level of study in the specific case – and, if the future German students are from Serbia and DAAD scholars, we mediate to help the process of obtaining a student visa.

Which universities and programmes are most attractive for students from Serbia?

We have most inquiries for master’s studies, while the most popular universities are the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of Berlin, AWTH Aachen and the University of Frankfurt. There is most interest in programmes in the fields of social sciences, economics and law, but certainly also in IT, electrical engineering, applied informatics, biomedicine, molecular biology and, lately, programmes in the field of Life Science are increasingly in demand. Students from Serbia like the possibility to study in Germany in English, and to study without tuition fees.

We have most inquiries for master’s studies, while the most popular universities are the Technical University of Munich, the Technical University of Berlin, AWTH Aachen and the University of Frankfurt

At what stage of their academic development do Serbian students usually opt to go to German universities? Our students most often choose to enrol in master’s studies, in addition to the large and international offer (programmes in English), the reason for this great interest is the possibility of receiving DAAD scholarships for master’s studies. We also offer Ph.D. scholarships, which is why many people contact us with the desire to enrol in Ph.D. studies in Germany.

What is special about a DAAD scholarship?

DAAD offers several types of scholarship for each level of study, for which excellent students or graduates from Serbia can apply: for master’s studies in all scientific disciplines, but also for graduates in the fields of architecture, music, fine arts, design and film, and performing arts. Graduates with a master’s degree or its equivalent can apply for Ph.D. scholarships or research residences for those who have already enrolled in Ph.D. studies in Serbia. The DAAD scholarship covers all monthly expenses in Germany, including living expenses and health insurance, as well as German language courses for those who decide to study/research in English.

It should be noted that DAAD awards many more scholarships in the framework of projects that take place between Serbian and German universities, and that these DAAD scholarships are aimed at the mobility of teaching and non-teaching staff, then at the organisation of seminars, workshops, conferences, but also at the purchase of equipment for laboratories. Both Serbian and German universities apply for such project financing.

How many German alumni are there in Serbia today and how do they maintain mutual ties?

DAAD has over five hundred alumni and they are organised in three DAAD alumni clubs in Serbia: in Belgrade, Novi Sad and Niš. Using the funds DAAD has for its alumni, they organise gatherings and socialising or participate in global DAAD alumni competitions, e.g. at the recently held “Setting out for the Future – How can we Drive Europe Forward” in Berlin, where as many as two teams from Serbia participated.

I think that our alumni promote the DAAD slogan “Change by Exchange” in the best way – so there is no change until you exchange ideas

Most of our alumni have in the meantime become professors at Serbian universities themselves, some have remained in Germany, but those who are in Serbia are our ambassadors in Germany and German ambassadors in Serbia, in the best possible way. Once you establish contact with a German partner, there is always a way to continue cooperation and involve your colleagues in future projects. I think that our alumni promote the DAAD slogan “Change by Exchange” in the best way – so there is no change until you exchange ideas.

Besides scholarships, what else does the Belgrade DAAD Information Centre do?

We are most recognisable for scholarships, but we have a wide range of activities: we promote Germany as a country where people enjoy studying and researching, participate in education fairs, organise workshops at which we teach high school students how to write motivational letters or to pass language tests.