The agreement was signed during a recent visit of researchers from Freie Universität Berlin to UC Berkeley, led by the university’s Vice-President for International Affairs, Prof. Dr. Klaus Mühlhahn. Up to 50 researchers from both universities participated in workshops during this three-day stay. The new agreement includes extensive forms of cooperation at all levels of the university. The two universities will intensify their exchange programs for students and faculty, and create new opportunities for administrative staff. In addition, it lays the groundwork for cooperative formats for study programs, including teaching cooperation. The strategic partnership will also support sustainable networks in technology transfer and startup initiatives.
The strategic partnership between UC Berkeley and Freie Universität Berlin is based on a cooperation that has grown steadily over the past decades. In 2016 alone, approximately 80 students, PhD students, and researchers from UC Berkeley studied or conducted research at Freie Universität. Furthermore, the University of California Education Abroad Program for Germany is based at Freie Universität Berlin and brings up to 200 students from the University of California system to Berlin each year, more than two thirds of them studying at Freie Universität. The university’s research collaboration with the UC system is reflected in numerous joint publications; during the past five years, there were almost 230 in the natural sciences and selected social sciences alone, the largest share of which with UC Berkeley.
“The new agreement underlines our universities’ commitment to strengthen our existing relationships,” said the chancellor of UC Berkeley, Prof. Nicholas Dirks. “We share many commitments and interests, and in a way we are both establishing more global relationships.”
The president of Freie Universität Berlin, Prof. Dr. Peter-André Alt, pointed out that the new alliance creates a dynamic link between two highly innovative regions, saying, “It opens up exciting possibilities, especially for the rapidly expanding topics in our city, such as digitization and health research.”
For both universities, this agreement is part of a strategy to pursue a structural cooperation with selected international partner institutions. One of the key components of Freie Universität’s internationalization strategy is to establish strategic partnerships worldwide with a number of leading foreign research institutions. The university’s strategy, dubbed “International Network University” in the German government’s Excellence Initiative, helped Freie Universität Berlin gain excellence status and special funding in the two major phases of this campaign. So far, the university’s strategic partners are the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, Peking University in China, St. Petersburg University in Russia, and the University of British Columbia in Canada. The partnership now concluded with the University of California at Berkeley is the fifth of the university’s strategic partnerships.