Strengthening universities and higher education systems in developing countries

Student sitting in a classroom and listening carefully

The DAAD helps strengthen universities and higher education systems in developing countries by funding cooperation projects and partnerships. The DAAD's portfolio ranges from supporting the development of up-to-date practice-oriented study programmes to fostering the establishment of globally linked academic centres of excellence for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Co-operation activities are planned and implemented jointly by universities in Germany and developing countries. They arise from shared interests and visions and build on existing competences.

The DAAD has been supporting projects carried out by universities in Germany with their partners in developing countries since 1997. These projects often combine the development of joint study programmes with professional training and applied research. The range of topics is broad: from the health sector, to food security, special needs education, and water management to business oriented practical study modules. In addition, we support partnerships for innovative higher education management.

Together with the German Rectors’ Conference within the DIES-programme, the DAAD also promotes expert conferences and specifically developed training courses for middle and top managers of higher education institutions. Through international projects we assist higher education associations in improving the quality and relevance of hundreds of courses offered by their member universities.

Moreover, within the exceed-programme we fund centres of excellence at German universities that work closely with international partners to conduct research and provide teaching on the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

To increase overall effectiveness of German development cooperation, the DAAD also collaborates closely with the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on numerous cooperation projects.


Our programmes help to modernise teaching at higher education institutions in developing countries and adapt it to the requirements of the labour market. They contribute to professionalising university administration, to developing a joint understanding of quality and relevance in higher education, and to improving the training of university lecturers. Furthermore, the programmes increase academic mobility and facilitate mutual recognition of study credits and degrees.

The DAAD-funded projects support the establishment of specialist networks on development-related topics. These networks improve the quality of applied and development oriented research at all partner institutions. They support higher education institutions in developing countries to fully use their potential to promote sustainable development.

You will find more information on our development-related funding programmes for higher education institutions on the page "".