Summer meeting at DAAD Headquarters: The DAAD's whole external network met in Bonn for the first time in 2023

© The DAAD's external network in Bonn

Every year, the heads of the DAAD’s external network come to Bonn in the summer to exchange ideas with their colleagues at headquarters and also with each other, to discuss the latest developments at the DAAD and in the six departments, and at the same time to report on their work and the framework conditions in their countries and regions.

In 2023, a new joint network format was tried out, consisting of the field office managers’ meeting and the IC Forum for managers and staff of the ICs. Its target groups were, on the one hand, the office managers – among them, of course, the managers of the DAAD field offices, but also the five most recent IC lecturers as well as the four new IC colleagues who manage the newly registered locations in Rome, Madrid, Buenos Aires and Athens. The fact that these groups are traveling together to Bonn for the first time, thus linking the overall network even more closely than before, was the first innovation. This year, in the first post-Covid meeting, the marketing officers and the DWIH program directors were also added, rounding out the worldwide DAAD network, the DAAD’s unique selling point.

Exchange at the network meeting in Bonn

The framework of the meeting, which is a good tradition, was the kick-off meeting with the Directorate as well as the President and Vice President on June 12, and the final meeting with the Council on June 21. At the kick-off meeting, in particular, the overarching current developments at the DAAD were discussed, which this year were characterized not only by the uncertain financial situation but also by the global challenges and their impact on the work of the DAAD as well as increasingly important cross-cutting issues such as digitization, diversity, and science diplomacy.

These cross-cutting topics were also discussed in separate meetings, the newly introduced topic slots, which enriched this year’s meeting with a targeted thematic exchange format. These included the important topic of PACA certification and the associated increasing importance for the DAAD of acquiring and implementing EU projects, in which the field offices in some places already play an essential role and for which the network will become an even more central element in the future. Also discussed were the glaring shortage of skilled workers in Germany and the potential that the field network can bring to bear here. Here, too, the network appears as a science policy actor.

DAAD Field Office Directors at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin© DAAD

For years, a visit to Berlin has been part of the program for the branch office managers. The exchange with the Federal Foreign Office or the visit to the subcommittee AKBP of the Bundestag are important dates to promote the work of the DAAD. The appreciation for our work was repeatedly emphasized by the members of parliament, especially in the subcommittee. Of course, the major countries such as China, India, Brazil, and of course the USA, and Russia in the context of its attack on Ukraine are particularly in the focus of interest. This made it all the more important for field office heads from countries and regions that were less in the spotlight, such as the Caucasus and the ASEAN countries, to meet with the respective working groups of the Bundestag.

DAAD field office directors visiting the AKBP subcommittee of the Bundestag with German Foreign Minister Anna-Lena Baerbock (center).© DAAD

A special value of the network meeting is to see colleagues from all over the world as well as in the headquarters again, to exchange experiences and to meet in the evening in an informal, sociable round. This informal exchange, which is always lacking both over distance and now in times of mobile work, is enormously important and the basis for promoting exchange and more intensive (virtual) cooperation among the network and with headquarters.

 

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