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EACEA National Policies Platform


6. Education and Training

6.5 Cross-border learning mobility

Last update: 15 January 2021
On this page
  1. Policy framework
  2. Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education
  3. Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work
  4. Quality assurance

Policy framework

Important documents that are relevant to learning mobility include: 

After adopting the first such strategy in 2008, on 1 February 2017 the Cabinet adopted a new Federal Government strategy for this field (Strategie der Bundesregierung zur Internationalisierung von Bildung, Wissenschaft und Forschung). It was drawn up under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF). Inter alia, the strategy aims to make the education and training system in Germany more international by, e.g., assisting apprentices in spending part of their apprenticeship a period abroad. To support the first strategy, BMBF had adopted an action plan for international cooperation (Aktionsplan Internationale Kooperation). 

  • Recommendations on internationalising curricula

In addition, the German Rectors’ Conference (Hochschulrektorenkonferenz, HRK) on 9 May 2017 published a set of recommendations on internationalising curricula (Empfehlungen zur Internationalisierung von Curricula) . They are a helpful aid for higher education institutions that wish to give their curricula an international, intercultural or global dimension.

Assistance is provided to encourage the completion of either part or whole degree programmes abroad through the Federal Training Assistance Act (Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz, BAföG), which increases student mobility. 

KJP is the instrument through which the government provides assistance to child and youth services at federal (Bund) level, which also extends to international exchanges in non-school settings. KJP guidelines (Richtlinien KJP) set out the rules and regulations governing grants and financial resources for child and youth services. KJP serves to promote child and youth services at the federal level. It promotes relevant measures to this end, such as international exchanges between young people and experts. For instance, it helps to implement bilateral agreements. It also supports bilateral or multilateral measures that are reciprocal in nature.

Further information available on the mobility scoreboard and on the Eurydice website (Germany > Mobility and Internationalisation).

Main cross-border mobility programmes for students in formal education

Pedagogical Exchange Service (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst, PAD)

The points of contact for programmes concerning international exchanges for schools in Germany are the ministries of education (Kultusministerien) or senate administrations (Senatsverwaltungen) in Germany’s 16 federal states (Länder). Established in 1952, the Pedagogical Exchange Service (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst, PAD) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) has acted on behalf of the federal states as the sole public-sector institution in Germany for international exchanges and international cooperation in and between schools. The PAD’s programmes are aimed at pupils, teachers, trainee teachers and schools in Germany and abroad. PAD is a partner of the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) and the National Agency for EU programmes involving schools (Erasmus+ School Education and eTwinning). The PAD’s exchange programmes, which are funded by the Federal Foreign Office, serve especially to promote German as a foreign language abroad. The Erasmus+ School Education programme aims to promote school development and form networks between schools across Europe. This is to encourage schools to exchange tried-and-tested procedures and methods, e.g., under a school partnership, and to develop and share innovative concepts and materials. The PAD programmes are aimed at the following target groups:

1. Schools (school partnerships) (selection)

The GermanAmericanPartnershipProgram (GAPP) promotes partnerships between schools in Germany and the USA and involves mutual visits. These visits should each have a specific theme or serve a specific project. The visits should last at least 16 days each (including outbound and inbound travel). German pupils and their accompanying teachers are granted a flat-rate contribution towards the cost of their airfare to the USA. In addition, grants of up to 1 500 euros are available to cover project costs. These grants are paid by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) and the US State Department.

SchoolpartnershipswithIsrael (Schulpartnerschaften mit Israel) and with schools in eastern, central eastern and south eastern Europe and the Baltic states (Schulen in Ost-, Mittelost- und Südosteuropa sowie den Baltischen Staaten). Grants are available for travel expenses and programme-related costs for the foreign pupils and their accompanying teachers. Schools can also apply for a contribution towards the cost of an exchange visit in Germany (up to 1 500 euros). Stays of foreign pupil groups of between 7 and 21 days at a German partner school are eligible for these grants. The pupils are hosted by local families. The exchanges can take place any time during the school year. From 2017, school partnerships involving eastern Europe and the Baltic states can start applying for funding for preparatory visits. Financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).

Support for partnershipswithschoolsaroundtheworld (Schulpartnerschaften weltweit) (except Europe, the USA and Israel) is provided under the initiativeSchools: Partnersforthefuture(Schulen: Partner der Zukunft, PASCH) of the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). The priority regions are: Africa, Asia, South-East Asia, Central Asia, the Caucasus, eastern Europe, the Gulf states, Turkey and the Palestinian Territories. PASCH supports mutual exchanges between groups of pupils in order to encourage more long-term partnerships between schools in Germany and abroad. The initiative pays a grant towards the travel expenses of the German and foreign pupils and their accompanying teachers. Grants are also available to cover the cost of running a programme for groups of foreign students travelling to Germany. Amounts of up to 1 500 euros are available for projects involving German and foreign groups. Stays of foreign pupil groups of between 7 and 21 days at a German partner school, with accommodation in host families, are eligible for these grants. The exchanges can take place any time during the school year. Funding for preparatory visits is also available. Financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office.

Two programmes are funded via foundations. One is the programme schoolpartnershipswithChina(Schulpartnerschaften mit China). In addition to the PASCH initiative, these partnerships also receive funding from the Mercator Germany-China school partnership fund (Mercator Schulpartnerschaftsfonds Deutschland - China). Pupils and their accompanying teachers receive a flat-rate contribution towards their travel expenses of up to 450 euros per person (an extra 200 euros per person may be made available subject to means testing). Maximum available grant: 7 000 euros (per school in Germany and in China). The school exchange must be project-oriented. As a rule, 12 exchange projects receive funding via this programme each year.

The junior engineer academy school partnership (Junior-Ingenieur-Akademie-Schulpartnerschaften) project  is funded by Deutsche Telekom Stiftung in cooperation with the educational exchange service PAD. It involves technical projects by schools that are part of the nationwide network of junior engineers (Junior-Ingenieur-Akademie) in cooperation with schools from central, eastern and south-eastern Europe.

Under KeyAction 2 oftheEuropeanUnionseducationprogrammeErasmus+ (Leitaktion 2 Erasmus+) Strategic Partnerships are funded in order to encourage innovation and the sharing of best practices. Applications for funding are welcomed from schools as well as all public- and private-sector organisations and establishments that have a thematic connection to pre-schools and schools. A Strategic Partnership is transnational and generally involves at least three institutions from three different countries that participate in Erasmus+.

European schools of all levels and pre-schools that are interested in online school partnerships can participate in the eTwinning programme. Partnerships between German institutions are also eligible. After registration, German teachers are given access free of charge to a closed environment containing instruments for media projects. Training courses in Germany and abroad as well as online courses are also offered.

PAD programmes are also open to vocational colleges (Berufsschule) that participate in the dual vocational training (duale Berufsausbildung) system.

2. Teachers (Continuing Professional Development, CPD) (selection)

The CPD courses offered by PAD are open to teachers in Germany and abroad.

ForeignteacherscanspendbetweentwoweeksandtwelvemonthsataGermanschool depending on the aim of the programme and the target group. CPD for foreign teachers of German is funded by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). The programme goals include:

  • Getting to know the German education system,
  • acquiring in-depth professional, methodological and didactic, and language skills as well as a better understanding of German culture,
  • updating the teachers’ image of Germany, and
  • allowing them to gather and share intercultural experience.

CPD and work shadowing for teachers of German involves hands-on classroom experience. The CPD courses are a combination of methodology, didactics, language and regional studies for teachers of German plus classroom experience.

The studyvisits are designed in particular for school principals and administrators from north Africa, the Arab-speaking countries and eastern Europe. They serve to promote an exchange of experiences among teachers and administrators with their peers from Germany, a familiarity with the education and teacher training system here, and a familiarity with cooperative forms of school management.

TeachersfromGermany are equally able to complete CPD courses and work shadowing abroad. They can take part in a course in Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Taiwan or the UK or gain practical experience in a host school in one of these countries.

Applications may also be submitted via Key Action 1 of EuropeanUnionseducationprogrammeErasmus+ (Leitaktion 1 Erasmus+) for CPD for teachers and educational staff at schools and pre-school establishments; this promotes the quality of tuition by offering career development opportunities to teachers and specialist staff.

3. Pupils (selection)

The Voltaireprogramme is offered jointly with the Franco-German Youth Office (Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk, DFJW). This is a one-year exchange programme for German and French pupils. The participants attend school together with their exchange partner and are hosted in families. Voltaire gives young people an opportunity to experience a long-term stay abroad and obtain intercultural skills.

The Johannes Rau scholarship programme (Johannes-Rau-Stipendium) is open to young Israelis aged 16 to 18 who wish to travel to Germany on a scholarship. Beforehand, they have to submit an entry to an essay-writing competition. The 20 best entries are selected and the authors invited to come to Germany for 13 days, where they update their image of Germany and get to know their German peers. The Israeli participants are accommodated in host families. The programme is financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).

The two- to three-week language learning programme "Germany Plus" (Deutschland Plus) is open to pupils at secondary schools abroad who have excellent German language skills (minimum A2). The participants attend a general secondary school in Germany and stay with host families. They are given extra language tuition and attend the same classes as their host sisters and brothers. The programme is financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).

The international winners’ programme (Internationales Preisträgerprogramm) invites pupils in general-education schools who have outstanding German skills (minimum B1) and are winners of nationwide competitions (e.g., German Olympics, etc.). to spend time in Germany on a full scholarship. The aim is to encourage them to perfect their language skills and update their view of Germany. Participants are accommodated for two weeks in host families and attend a comprehensive school or “Gymnasium”-type grammar school. They also undertake excursions to Cologne, Bonn, Berlin, Munich and Hamburg to further their regional studies knowledge. The programme is financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).

4. Universitystudents

PAD runs various programmes for German and foreign students:

  • TeachingGermanatUSschools. PAD pilot programme. Term: 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic years. Trainee teachers in any subject with English language skills (level B2) can spend eight months as classroom assistants teaching German in US schools. Participants are paid a grant of 850 euros per month plus a contribution towards travel expenses, visa fees and insurance premiums. Funded by the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz) and the federal government (Bundesregierung) under the Transatlantic Program through the budget of the European Recovery Program (ERP) of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Energie).
  • Foreignlanguageassistants(Fremdsprachenassistenzkräfte). Most foreign language assistants are assigned to secondary schools, where they provide around 12 hours of classroom language assistance a week in their mother tongue. The programme is based on a bilateral agreement between Germany and 13 countries around the world. German foreign language assistants who go abroad are paid a monthly contribution towards their living expenses by the competent authorities in the host country. They must cover their own travel expenses (exceptions exist for the USA and China). The students are responsible for arranging their own accommodation, although their host institution will normally provide assistance. Foreign language assistants from abroad who work in Germany receive a monthly stipend of 800 euros that is funded from state (Länder) budgets and partly also by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt). The competent authorities provide them with health, accident and third-party liability insurance coverage for the duration of their stay.

5. Volunteers

In cooperation with the German Commission for UNESCO, under the programme “kulturweit” the Pedagogical Exchange Service (PAD) places volunteers aged 18 to 26 at schools abroad where pupils can sit an exam to obtain the German Language Diploma (Deutsches Sprachdiplom, DSD) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz, KSK) or alternatively at a German School Abroad (Deutsche Auslandsschule). The volunteer placement can last six or 12 months.

In cooperation with the Franco-German Youth Office (Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk, DFJW) the PAD sends young German volunteers on assignment to France and young French volunteers on assignment to Germany. The school placements last eight months.

Bilateral youth and coordination offices

Besides the PAD, the bilateralyouthoffices (Jugendwerke) and coordinationoffices (Koordinierungsstellen) also run school exchange programmes (for individuals and groups). These youth offices include inter alia:

  • Franco-German Youth Office (Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk, DFJW): The Brigitte Sauzay programme of the DFJW encourages individual pupils to take part in a Franco-German exchange. Participants spend three months each with a host family in the other country, as well as at least six weeks in a local school. A grant is paid towards the participants’ travel expenses. The total budget is reviewed annually.
  • The German-Polish Youth Office (Deutsch-Polnisches Jugendwerk, DPJW) promotes German-Polish exchanges between individual pupils (Deutsch-Polnischer Schüleraustausch) during which participants spend between three and six months in the host country. German participants are paid a stipend of 100 euros per month plus a contribution towards their travel expenses. Total budget: unknown.
  • Foundation for German-Russian Youth Exchange (Stiftung Deutsch-Russischer Jugendaustausch, SDRJA): The Foundation organises project-based exchanges between German and Russian pupils (Schüler) and apprentices (Auszubildende) in Russia and in Germany. The exchanges (up to 30 days) must include at a joint project lasting at least five days. The maximum available grant for one pair of exchanges is 8 000 euros. Participants receive a grant to cover part of their travel expenses. Funding is also available for pupils who wish to complete an internship (Berufspraktika) in Russia. The Foundation provides funding in addition to that provided by the federal states (Länder). Schools must submit an application beforehand with the competent state authorities. Provided the state authorities contribute from their own budget, this amount is set off against the amount paid by the Foundation. Total budget: unknown.
  • UK-German Connection: The programmes and activities of UK-German Connection are open to, inter alia, secondary schools and vocational colleges and have an interdisciplinary, theme-specific outlook. Depending on the programme in question, the grants help to cover travel expenses, transportation expenses, accommodation and project costs and materials, and the cost of joint activities and mutual partner visits. Applicants must contribute at least 25 % of the total eligible costs themselves via, e.g., participants’ contributions, alternative sources of funding, other co-financing schemes etc. The maximum payable amount ranges from 500 pounds sterling (or the equivalent in euros) to 5 000 pounds sterling depending on the programme. This amount may have to be shared between the participating institutions or schools.
  • German-Turkish youth bridge (Deutsch-Türkische Jugendbrücke): Deutsch-Türkische Jugendbrücke has launched a series of projects entitled “Strengthening Bridges: Youth Exchange between Turkey and Germany” to strengthen German-Turkish exchanges, identify and expand promising areas of activity for German-Turkish exchanges and support multipliers (April to December 2017). Under the project, funding is provided for three model projects that serve to promote an exchange in the area of professional preparation and vocational training. Applications are welcomed from vocational colleagues, other non-profit or public-sector VET institutions and youth work and youth social work providers. The participants are young people and teachers. The programme is financially supported by the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt).
Further programmes

The development policy school exchange programme (Entwicklungspolitisches Schulaustauschprogramm)ENSA, which is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ), provides support to new and existing school partnerships. A distinction is made between preparatory trips (Anbahnungsreise) and exchange trips (Begegnungsreise).

  • Preparatory trips (Anbahnungsreisen): Trip undertaken by a partner school to Germany (incoming) plus trip undertaken by a German school to the partner country (outgoing). Duration: approx. 1 week. Conferences and seminars to brief and debrief participants in Germany are also offered.
    Funding is available for trips involving up to six participants per trip plus at least two participating pupils. Grant: up to 75 % of project and travel costs plus a flat-rate allowance for food up to a maximum of 7 000 euros per trip. Applications for an inclusion top-up may be submitted where required.
  • Exchange trips (Begegnungsreisen): Trip undertaken by a partner school to Germany (incoming) or trip undertaken by a German school to the partner country (outgoing). Duration: 14 project days (excluding outbound and inbound travel). Conferences and seminars to brief and debrief participants in Germany are also offered. Applications are welcomed from German public or private secondary schools, school development institutions (Schulförderverein), and non-profit non-governmental organisations.
    Funding is available for one exchange trip per year involving between six and 12 pupils and accompanying staff under an existing school partnership. Grant: up to 75 % of project and travel costs plus a flat-rate allowance for food up to a maximum of 14 000 euros. Applications for an inclusion top-up may be submitted where required.

“Worldwide training” (Ausbildung Weltweit) is a pilot project funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF). Three activities are being run during the 2017 pilot phase:

  • Foreign stays by apprentices as part of their dual vocational training,
  • Foreign stays by instructors and those in responsible positions in the VET system who work for non-school VET establishments; abroad, they work on vocational training issues (job shadowing, internships, their own teaching work),
  • Preparatory visits.

Funding is available for foreign stays in any country with the exception of those covered by the Erasmus+ Key Action for mobility in vocational training and those for which the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) has issued a travel warning. Applications are welcomed from training providers and non-school VET establishments across Germany.

The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, DAAD) is the world’s largest funding organisation for international exchanges between students and researchers. The DAAD’s programmes range from semesters abroad for university students and Ph.D. programmes to internships, guest lectureships, information visits and projects to establish universities abroad. The DAAD and its programmes are mainly funded from public sources. Main sources of funding: Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt, 39 %), BMBF (23 %), BMZ (10 %), and the European Union (18 %). Total budget in 2015: 471 million euros. Number of successful applicants in 2016: 131 229 individuals (59 827 via project funding, 44 709 via Erasmus+, 26 693 via individual applications). Example programmes:

  • The programme “Hands-on Russia” (Russland in der Praxis) is part of the “Go East” initiative and enables German students and university graduates to complete a six-month internship in a Russian company.
  • The language assistants’ programme (DAAD-Sprachassistentenprogramm) of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) is designed especially for young university graduates with a degree in German studies, German as a foreign language, regional studies, social sciences and the humanities. Participants are placed for one year at a foreign university, with the option to extend by another year if they wish. They usually receive support by a DAAD representative on the ground. Participants are paid a monthly stipend (ranging from around 1 100 to 1 700 euros depending on the country). The DAAD pays a flat-rate allowance towards their travel expenses and pays for health, accident and third-party liability insurance coverage. Participants can undergo a language course before departure or during their placement (paid for by the DAAD).

The Goethe Institute (Goethe-Institut), the Federal Republic of Germany’s cultural institute with offices around the world, launched a national scholarship programme known as “SCHULWÄRTS!” in 2015. It places trainee and recently qualified teachers from Germany in schools abroad that are affiliated with the Goethe Institute. The programme was designed with teachers in the STEM subjects in mind (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). The aim is to put the support provided to the schools abroad by the Goethe Institute on a long-term footing and to help internationalise teacher training. Short-term placements in China and Turkey under this scheme are also financially supported by the Mercator Foundation (Stiftung Mercator). Applications are welcomed from trainee teachers from Germany who are completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree, trainee teachers who have passed the first state examination (1. Staatsexamen), and young teachers with any subject combination and who are qualified to work in any type of school.

Funding is available for two-month placements with a stipend of 2 000 euros and four-month placements with a stipend of 3 000 euros (1 000 euros paid as a one-off plus 500 euros per month). The interns receive professional support on the ground from teaching experts working for the local Goethe Institute offices. Any organisational issues are resolved with the help of counsellors (teachers) appointed by the schools:

  • Points of contact and important addresses,
  • Assistance with finding accommodation and registering with the local authorities,
  • Drawing up job shadowing and lesson plans,
  • Scheduling appointments with school management,
  • Translation help,
  • Introduction to the school infrastructure, etc.

By the end of 2017, approx. 150 scholarship holders will have completed a SCHULWÄRTS! placement. Applications can be submitted on at least two dates each year. There are international programmes as well as special programmes for individual countries. The application process, the selection process and the departure usually take place within the space of 12 months. SCHULWÄRTS! is known for the strong professional and organisational support it provides to its scholarship holders prior to departure and abroad. Total budget: unknown. Reviews by returnees from the SCHULWÄRTS! programme.

Besides PAD as the National Agency for the Erasmus+ School Education and eTwinning programme, there are three other agencies that implement the Erasmus+ programme in Germany:

For further information see also

Promoting mobility in the context of non-formal learning, and of youth work

The Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP), the most important promotion instrument for child and youth services at federal level, also supports international youth exchanges. The supported activities are subject to the guidelines (Richtlinien) of the Child and Youth Plan. They detail, inter alia, the general rules and regulations governing financial support, the scope and amount available, and the requirements to be complied with.

The bilateral youth offices (Jugendwerke) and coordination offices (Koordinierungsstellen) promote and support international youth exchanges. For instance, the Franco-German Youth Office (Deutsch-Französisches Jugendwerk) promotes youth exchanges that are organised by youth associations and clubs, cities, municipalities and twinning committees in Germany and France. The guidelines of the Franco-German Youth Office (Richtlinien DFJW) provide the framework for its work.

There are various initiatives to strengthen and promote learning mobility:

Initiative “Opportunities through exchange” (Chancen eröffnen durch Austausch und Begegnung)

The Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, BMFSFJ) has extended its youth strategy to include the initiative “Opportunities through exchange” (Chancen eröffnen durch Austausch und Begegnung). It aims to strengthen international youth exchanges as well as the youth organisations that offer them. In particular, international youth exchanges should be made available to young people who previously have not been the traditional target group. Main activities:

  • Extending existing activities, lowering barriers,
  • improving the provision of information,
  • promoting the recognition of cross-border learning achievements,
  • supporting and training experts,
  • creating a meaningful and reliable body of data.

As part of this Ministry scheme, the youth policy initiative “JiVE - Youth Work International - Experiencing Diversity” (Jugendarbeit international - Vielfalt erleben) made a tangible contribution towards implementing the objectives of the Youth Ministry’s youth strategy for 2015-2018 (Acting for a child- and youth-friendly society/Handeln für eine jugendgerechte Gesellschaft). JiVE consisted of various sub-initiatives that contribute towards the overall aim of giving all young people access to international youth work activities. The initiative was coordinated by IJAB, the International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany (IJAB - Fachstelle für Internationale Jugendarbeit der Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V.). The coordination was funded by the Child and Youth Plan of the federation (Kinder- und Jugendplan des Bundes, KJP). The sub-initiatives and responsible partners were:

  • Kommune goes International - IJAB,
  • AG International mobil zum Beruf – aktuelles forum e.V.,
  • Jugendsozialarbeit macht mobil (Kooperationsverbund Jugendsozialarbeit),
  • Mach mit! Jugendmobilität zwischen Deutschland und der Türkei - Deutsch-Türkische Jugendbrücke gGmbH,
  • SPORTIVE - Deutsche Sportjugend (German Sports Youth),
  • JugendAuslandsBerater (JAB) in NRW (coordinated by transfer e.V.),
  • Kompetenznachweis International (KNI) in der Erziehungshilfe im Ausland - Bundesverband Individual- und Erlebnispädagogik e.V.

The outcomes of the sub-initiatives include:

  • IJIP: a dossier discussing potential activities for local international youth work offices (“Lokale Fachstelle Internationale Jugendarbeit”); a manual for local-level international youth work in which local authorities participating in IJIP share their practical experiences (“Internationale Jugendarbeit kommunal verankern – Instrumente der Jugendhilfeplanung erfolgreich nutzen!”); and a series of training courses on local-level child and youth services planning to better understand how international youth work can be established at the local level.
  • JAB: Implementation of a peer-to-peer-based training course for young people wishing to advise their peers in schools on going broad.
  • KNI: a manual on using the recognition tool “Kompetenznachweis International” (KNI) in educational projects abroad.

Thanks to support given to youth initiatives and peer-to-peer projects to develop European and international youth work, with funding from the Federal Youth Ministry’s innovation fund (Innovationsfonds), innovative approaches by and for young people can be trialled and implemented.

In addition, the active involvement of young people is encouraged in order to raise the visibility of international youth work by having suitable organisations host centralised youth events (youth meetings, conferences, parliaments (2016-2017). Participants thus become ambassadors for European and international youth work and share their positive experiences with their peers via social networks, schools, peer groups etc.

The initiative “Opportunities through exchange” (Chancen eröffnen durch Austausch und Begegnung) is a longer-term strategy to strengthen international youth exchanges. It will be further developed in cooperation with international youth work organisations and specialised offices.

African-German Youth Initiative

The African-German Youth Initiative (Deutsch-Afrikanische Jugendinitiative, DAJ) is designed to promote exchange between young people in African countries and Germany. It is a political initiative that is implemented on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung, BMZ) and the African Union (Afrikanische Union, AU). One year on, the initiative has shown that existing programmes have been financially strengthened and the number of participants raised significantly [e.g. school exchange programmes incoming (to Germany) 2015: 119, 2016: 185]. In addition, the initiative ran a number of events on international expert exchanges.

Initiative “Austausch macht Schule”

The school exchange initiative “Austausch macht Schule” is run by specialised offices for international school exchanges and youth work in Germany in cooperation with the Pedagogical Exchange Service (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst, PAD) of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (Kultusministerkonferenz). The aim is to give ALL pupils an opportunity to take part in a school exchange. The initiative seeks to make international school exchanges a firm part of the education system and raise public awareness of their importance as a valuable place of learning. Several events have been held since it was launched. The Foundation for German-Russian Youth Exchange (Stiftung Deutsch-Russischer Jugendaustausch) set up a transfer office in December 2016. This office is a permanent point of contact for organisations, supporters and interested individuals who wish to know more about the initiative. The initiative is funded by Robert Bosch Stiftung and the Mercator Foundation (Mercator Stiftung). 

Campaign #meinauslandspraktikum

The National Agency “Education for Europe” (Nationale Agentur Bildung für Europa) at the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung, BIBB) has launched a campaign known as #meinauslandspraktikum. Run on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Education (Bundesbildungsministerium, BMBF), it aims to encourage more young people to complete an internship abroad. Images on Instagram (@meinauslandspraktikum) and videos on the Youtube channel “My traineeship abroad” (Mein Auslandspraktikum) are to encourage young people to explore going abroad.

Quality assurance

Quality assurance is an important issue in the context of mobility programmes. However, there is no uniform quality assurance system for any of the mentioned programmes. Every programme has its own system and is subject to the respective rules and regulations of the funding providers. Normally, there are preparatory seminars beforehand and debriefing sessions afterwards. Some programmes also offer an interim evaluation session. Normally, there are points of contact on the ground who are on hand to assist participants.

Funding applications from programmes that do not meet the formal criteria are rejected. After a project is completed, reports must be written and submitted to the relevant funding partner or implementing organisation. Funds may also be clawed back if, for instance, fewer participants sign up than expected and applied for.

A membership in an umbrella association for international youth work, a working group or a network, e.g. the working group of non-profit youth exchange organisations (Arbeitskreis gemeinnütziger Jugendaustauschorganisationen, AJA), the central association of international youth service providers and youth social services organisations (Trägerkonferenz der Internationalen Jugendgemeinschafts- und Jugendsozialdienste) or the Learning and Helping Overseas Association (Arbeitskreis "Lernen und Helfen in Übersee", AKLHÜ), indicates compliance with certain quality standards.

IJAB has produced manuals, some in cooperation with third parties, that support international youth work experts in their work. They include, e.g., a manual on quality in international youth work projects (Handbuch zu Qualität in Formaten der internationalen Jugendarbeit). It provides an overview of the main international youth work formats and what characterises them. It also refers to existing quality instruments. A working group on quality criteria in international youth work consisting of representatives of German youth organisations and their umbrella associations has, with IJAB as coordinator, produced a list of such quality criteria (Qualitätskriterien und Indikatoren für die internationale Jugendarbeit). More information on quality management is available on IJAB’s website

A mechanism that has been used for years to evaluate youth exchanges is “Evaluation Internationaler Jugendbegegnungen”. Since 2017, it has been available for use via the online platform i-EVAL in various languages (German, French, English, Polish). i-EVAL offers scientifically produced questionnaires that cover all relevant aspects of a youth exchange. Users can add their own questions to the questionnaire. 

For further information on quality assurance systems see also Youth Wiki > Germany > Youth Volunteering at national level > Quality Assurance (QA)