The president of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Wolfgang A. Herrmann, has called for a stronger culture of academic financial aid in Germany. Speaking at the TUM-hosted annual assembly of the national Deutschlandstipendium scholarship program, Herrmann added that a strong sense of community at universities is a prerequisite for this development. TUM has organized more than 500 scholarships from approximately 100 sponsors that include former scholarship recipients and even a collective effort by the current scholars. German Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka remarked that the Deutschlandstipendium had in the meantime become firmly established in the community.
Bianca Monzer moved to Germany from Romania at the age of 16, without being able to speak a word of German. Beginning in a general-education secondary school she fought her way up through a qualified secondary school and on to a specialized vocational college where she earned a degree qualifying her for university studies at TUM. She's currently writing her Bachelor's Thesis in Engineering Science. At today's annual assembly she spoke about how the Deutschlandstipendium has been helping her.
What counts for the Deutschlandstipendium at TUM is not only the candidate's grades, but diversity of achievement as well. The application process also takes into account community involvement and special personal circumstances, such as raising children, immigration and family background. "Those who have already overcome obstacles at an early stage in their personal development are as a rule higher achievers in university studies. Diligence and determination count for us as well," says TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann.
"One of the strengths of the Deutschlandstipendium is that the universities can play an active role in shaping it. I am glad to see universities making increasing use of the program in order to sharpen their profiles, to network with sponsors and to improve their attractiveness," said Federal Minister of Education and Research Johanna Wanka. "The Deutschlandstipendium is a great success story and has become firmly established in our society in the six years since its inception."
Former scholarship recipients donate from their first salaries
The Deutschlandstipendium totals 300 Euros a month. The German Federal government pays one half of the amount, while the other half is raised by the respective universities. TUM is one of the most successful universities in this context, with approximately 100 sponsors funding over 500 scholarships. The largest sponsors are the BayWa Foundation and the Karl Max von Bauernfeind association, with 50 scholarships each. The latter plans to double its sponsorship on the occasion of TUM's 150 year anniversary celebration in 2018.
In addition to support from foundations and companies, the number of private sponsors is also remarkable. Such patrons include Dr. Otto Majewski, who sponsored 25 scholarships for several years, and former scholarship recipients who devote a part of the salary from their first jobs. And now even the current scholars are contributing to the program with a fund-raising campaign.
Personal contacts count
"I am very pleased for our students that within just a few short years we have developed a sustainable financial-aid culture at TUM that is already being passed on from generation to generation," said President Herrmann. "This development is based on an identification with the alma mater and a feeling of solidarity among the university's members and graduates. But all progress has its price! The university's leadership has to take the initiative. The objective is not taking on tasks on behalf of the state, but rather strengthening the sense of community through civic involvement."
Bianca Monzer also experienced first-hand how beneficial contact to sponsors can be, above and beyond financial support. Her sponsor helped her apply for an internship abroad with an automobile manufacturer. After the internship, the manufacturer offered her the chance to complete a Bachelor's Thesis at the company. And the scholarship recipients also help one another – and others: Many of the recipients are active outside of the university in the sense of "Donating Talents", supporting for example campaigns that help refugees.
Federal Minister Wanka signs the visitor’s book of the City of Garching
After the assembly, Federal Minister Wanka paid a visit to TUM’s Garching campus. Here in recent years TUM has opened several prominent research facilities, supported in part by the German Federal Government, for example the TUM Catalysis Research Center and the Bavarian NMR Center (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer). Other facilities are in the planning stages, such as the TUM Center for Functional Protein Assemblies. The Federal Minister signed the visitor’s book of the City of Garching in the TUM Institute for Advanced Study building, a gift from the BMW Group as part of the 2006 Excellence Initiative.