An international outlook defines the research activities and academic life at Freie Universität Berlin, a fact that has been true ever since the university was founded. Extensive exchanges of scholars, researchers, scientists, and students as well as global cooperative arrangements in research and teaching remain hallmarks of the international character of Freie Universität to this day. As a result, raising the university’s international profile is one of the three main areas of emphasis in the future development concept put forward by Freie Universität, alongside providing graduate education and promoting collaborative research in specific focus areas.
Freie Universität currently maintains more than 100 bilateral international partnerships at the university-wide level, along with more than 340 university partnerships within the ERASMUS academic exchange network, and over 50 institute partnerships. The university also operates liaison offices around the world – in Brussels, Cairo, Beijing, Moscow, New York, New Delhi, and São Paulo – which help to expand and maintain its international network on an ongoing basis within their specific regions.
Of the university’s approximately 28,000 students, roughly 18 percent are from other countries. At the beginning of each summer semester, about 500 foreign students come to Freie Universität to spend one or two semesters here as part of an exchange program. At the same time, the university sends hundreds of its own students abroad every year, through both the Erasmus program and its own extensive range of direct exchange options.
Owing to the history of its founding, Freie Universität maintains very close connections with institutions in the United States. This is also reflected in the university’s major education abroad programs, such as those with the University of California, the Berlin Consortium, or the options offered by the FU-BEST Program. The Lankwitz campus is home to a lively atmosphere during the International Summer and Winter University (FUBiS), when hundreds of students come to Freie Universität for short academic programs.
More than 6,500 people from about 130 different countries are currently involved in undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral studies and in teaching activities at Freie Universität. The university is a leading destination for international researchers. Alongside Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, Freie Universität Berlin has been the most popular site for visiting scholars and scientists of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for years. Freie Universität also shares the top slot in Germany in terms of the number of international doctoral candidates, this time with the University of Heidelberg. In addition, about 600 scholars and scientists from other countries come to Freie Universität each year, contributing to the broad spectrum of research and teaching activities.
Freie Universität also supports research and international networking through specific formats and events that foster the exchange of ideas.