WUS Germany broadening its area of work 1990 to 2020

Scholarship programs

Scholarship programs On behalf of the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art, WUS Germany has been managing an international scholarship program for over 30 years as part of the development co-operation of the State of Hesse. Applicants from Vietnam are placed with priority at Hessian universities. Only if the desired course of study is not available in Hesse, they are also placed at universities throughout Germany.

WUS is responsible for accepting applications, pre-screening them and forwarding them to the appropriate university offices. If the placement is successful, support follows with visa issues, travel arrangements and finding accommodation. During their studies, WUS maintains close contact with the students, is updated on the current status of their studies at the end of each semester, is the contact person for all questions concerning their studies and invites the students to participate in the seminars of the study support program. The students’ academic achievements are convincing, and their extracurricular achievements and political commitment are exemplary. In the course of the programs, WUS has supported its partner organisations in necessary and meaningful restructuring. It advises and advocates for increased co-operation between universities in Hesse and universities in the partner countries, so that the curricula of the study programs can be better co-ordinated and there is a lively academic exchange between the partner universities.

Sur Place Scholarships

Sur-place scholarships are special as on-site support and are also funded by the state of Hesse in co-operation with WUS.

They are:

• Albania: By supporting the educational elite in Albania and their qualification as start-ups during their studies, the project contributes to the strengthening of the next generation of skilled workers in Albania and the promotion of start-ups for innovative products. This is intended to counteract the emigration of young people and to strengthen the private sector through business start-ups. Extensive public relations work was carried out on the scholarship program, in part via the Albanian media.

 Preference is given to applicants from low-income families with good academic records. The students are already in the final stages of their studies and are preparing to enter the workforce. The scholarship holders receive financial support for an approx. 6-month internship in various companies and organisations. In the area of personal consulting coaching, other students or young professionals can apply with specific requirements (application coaching, business start-up).

In 2019, the last funding round started and in 2020, an extensive evaluation and survey of the scholarship holders involved so far took place.

  • Mali: The Sur-Place Scholarship Program Mali has been maintained in close co-operation with the German Embassy since about 2005. So far, 20 scholarships amounting to € 60.00 per month have been awarded annually. The students in Mali urgently need the financial support to buy books and study material, to pay the travel costs to the internship location, to pay research costs for the final thesis, to take additional courses with costs, to upgrade a laptop or simply to secure daily life.
  • Russia: In 2012/13, a sur-place scholarship program was awarded to 78 journalism students with German language skills at the “Free Russian-German Institute of Journalism” (FRDIP) at Moscow’s Lomonosov University and the “Independent Russian-German Institute of Journalism” (URDIJ) at the Southern Federal University of Rostov-on-Don. The goal was to provide Russian journalism students with German language skills with additional training that would give them the basics of a modern European understanding of journalism. At FRDIP and URDIJ, the focus is on professional standards (research, separation of news and opinion, source transparency), on editorial and media management, and on teaching basic economic knowledge.
  • Vietnam: Hesse has been supporting Vietnamese students at 34 universities in Vietnam for more than 25 years. To date, the program has supported more than 4,000 students. Former scholarship holders are already employed today and some of them work in key positions in Vietnam. In this way, a network of German-Vietnamese relations is being formed.
  • Eritrea: The focus of co-operation was on humanitarian aid. The “Eritrean-German Management and Cultural Center Asmara,” founded in 1994 by Eritrean and German experts, was supported. The centre aims to promote Eritrean-German relations and serve as a lobby for Eritrean professionals returning from Germany.


A sponsored business and cultural centre include office and seminar space, a library, an auditorium, a kindergarten and a cafeteria, the construction costs of which were financed by World University Service with funds from the German states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse and Bremen. In recent years, financial support from the Neckartenzlingen High School has also enabled students from the St. George School in Mendefera to receive a Sur-Place scholarship. Furthermore, the “Sur-Place Scholarship Program” arranges scholarships in Africa, Asia and Latin America and supports educational projects there. Among others, it has served students from Namibia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Cameroon, Croatia, Malaysia, Palestine and Peru. A “new, old” model of scholarship support offered by WUS again from 1989 – the so-called “partnership scholarship” – was expanded. Through binding standing orders, personal donations are made to WUS on a “private basis”, which are then passed on in full to scientists and scholars or students as monthly scholarships. Herder Club Increasing racist attacks on students from Africa and Asia in the GDR accompanied preliminary dis cussions on the establishment of WUS structures and local WUS committees at East German universities.


Through personal contacts with foreign students and through seminar events and the exchange of ideas, WUS provided assistance after the “Wende” and the reunification of the two German states in the use of legal means and the establishment of interest groups. The focus was also on co-operation between foreign students at East and West German universities.

In the exchange of ideas and experiences with those interested in the topic of “foreign studies” in the “new” German states, WUS was able to secure the co-operation of the Herder Club, which was the meeting centre for foreign graduates of educational institutions in the GDR. With its work for the interests of foreign students in the scientific, cultural and social fields, the Herder Club pursued goals similar to those of German WUS. This institution was dissolved in 1991 after the reunification of the two German states. However, its work was continued on a regional level, for example in the Herder-Club Dresden e. V., which worked closely with the then local WUS committee in Dresden and also with the German WUS committee in Wiesbaden until its dissolution in 1996.

Information office education mission North South

The Information Office Education Mission NorthSouth of World University Service has existed since 1991, at that time still under the name “Coordination Office North-South in Education”, which was a successor of the education congress “The NorthSouth Conflict, Education Mission for the Future” held in 1990 in Cologne. The development education landscape is a densely interwoven network of local, regional, national and international organisations – governmental as well as non-governmental. Many different actors inform, communicate, discuss and engage in this field. It is difficult for both interested parties and the actors themselves to gain an overview of this diversity. The Informationsstelle Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd thus works for greater transparency and visibility of activities in the field of education policy.

The Observatory operates as a joint project of the German states and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). According to its self-conception, it forms an interface for the joint efforts of the federal government, the federal states, the European Union and non-governmental organisations to promote both school-based and out-of-school development-related educational work.

The core of its work is the networking of actors in the field of development education and the dissemination of information from the fields of development-related information work and global learning. This enables synergies and expands the dissemination of relevant information, which is also relevant for companies and organisations from industry and finance. The Observatory pursues networking by participating in state, national and European-wide networks, among which are governmental, non-governmental and cross-sectoral working groups. On the European level, there has been co-operation with the North-South Center of the Council of Europe in Lisbon since 1998 within the framework of the “Global Education Week”. This Europe-wide campaign on global learning takes place annually in the third week of November. It is co-ordinated at the federal level by the Observatory.


The Observatory supports the annual implementation of the Perspective Conference of the Federal States on Development Policy, as well as the BundLänder-AG Entwicklungspolitische Informationsund Bildungsarbeit. It participates in numerous other events, such as a booth at the annual “Day of German Unity” held in the capitals of the German states.

In December 2001, the German UNESCO Commission honored the “WUS-Informationsstelle NordSüd im Bildungsbereich” with a special award for its exemplary commitment to promoting international understanding and the worldwide exchange of information.

The monthly online newsletter Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd informs about global learning and development policy in the 16 German states. The print magazine “Rundbrief Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd” on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030 is published quarterly. With its public relations work, the information centre works towards the broadest possible participation and involvement of all in democratic processes and measures for sustainable development, also with a view to youth engagement.

Return and reintegration.

APA University graduates and skilled workers experience again and again that they cannot economically optimally implement their acquired knowledge “made in Germany” at their workplaces in Africa, Asia and Latin America due to a lack of sufficient equipment. Often, the workplaces are technically poorly equipped, the pay is poor and, moreover, the jobs are insecure. For this reason, WUS was commissioned by the BMZ in 1993 with the technical implementation of a financial grant program to improve the quality of workplace equipment. Modern technical equipment, laboratory equipment, computers as well as accessories and non-fiction books were provided at the workplace. With the program “Grants for workplace equipment for specialists from developing countries (APA) within the framework of the Returning Specialists Program”, WUS has since the introduction of the project opened up the possibility for foreign academics from so-called “third world countries” to return to their home   country, to reintegrate professionally and socially into society and thus to participate in the building of their country and in economic development, i.e. the opposite of “brain drain”.

In implementing the program, a network of “skilled worker organisations” in Ethiopia, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Eritrea, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Cameroon, Morocco, Nicaragua, Palestine, Peru and Vietnam served as a point of contact for future returnees. The main aim was to help people find suitable jobs and to offer advice for potential business start-ups. In addition, there was a “Horn of Africa Skilled Workers Program” with funds for the qualification and reintegration of Ethiopian and Eritrean refugees living in Hesse.

It was significant that the targeted reintegration counselling and support was already used by many interested parties during their studies at German universities. The professional organisations held seminars and workshops for future returnees and posted up-to-date information on the labour market on their websites. This is real “development co-operation” or better “business with win-win significance”.

The final internal evaluation of WUS after the end of the program in 2016 shows that the goal of the APA funding to facilitate the professional return to the domestic labour market of professionals from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East was successfully achieved. In many cases, this was the first step that enabled the professionals to start their careers, thus enabling them to make sustainable use of their expertise and contribute to the development of their countries. According to their own statements, the assisted returnees also achieved their goals as planned. Additionally, because the funded equipment became the property of the employer after two years of use    the APA provided an incentive for local employers to hire the skilled workers who returned from Germany and employ them for a period of at least two years. The majority of the supported professionals gained a foothold in the field of teaching, one-third each worked in public administration and the private sector, and just under 10% were employed in development co-operation, mostly with local nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), which usually provide little professional security, often pay very poorly, and are poorly resourced.

The evaluation shows that the professional reintegration of APA-supported women into their home countries was as fast and successful as that of male returnees. The lower number of returning women compared to men was related to the fact that far fewer women from the aforementioned countries go abroad to study, to advance gender equality in APA funding, and especially to support women in their professional return.


Despite the very successful results of the program, the BMZ fundamentally changed the design and target group of the program and contracted the Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit to implement the program, which now runs the program on its own. Over all these years, WUS has been  


able to support thousands of returning professionals from Germany to Africa, Asia and Latin America, thus contributing to the reversal of the brain drain. It remains important for WUS to ensure that the recruitment efforts of European and North American countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America are not detrimental to the economies there.

Even after the funding program has come to an end, WUS continues to maintain, via a specialist book service, a nationwide unique file of around 3,000 specialists for their placement with development co-operation institutions and foreign trade-oriented companies. In addition to addresses, there is also information on fields of study, specialisations and activities. These specialists are also available to future returnees as contact persons and helpers with advice and information.

Internet Presence: Hessian universities in the North South context

On behalf of the Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts (HMWK), WUS has been offering the Internet site “Hessian Universities in the North-South Context” since 1999. This portal, which is unique in Germany so far, provides information on the relations of Hessian universities with partner universities and co-operating institutions in the Global South as well as on current research projects and scien      tific findings on topics related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals of Agenda 2030. This makes the international orientation of science and research policy in Hessen visible, with a special focus on Africa, Asia and Latin America. German and foreign students, employees in higher education, those working in business and other interested parties can use the homepage to access targeted information and activities related to developing countries offered by Hessen’s universities. The variety of North-South offerings in Hessen varies depending on the university and department.

Especially for the target group of international students, the site offers important information about studying in Germany or Hessen, about the recognition of foreign educational and university degrees, about working in Germany and internships, about scholarships as well as competition announcements. The English translation makes it possible for interested parties worldwide to access the desired information. Students who would like to get involved in development policy during their studies in Germany will find an extensive collection of institutions, associations and foundations in which they can become active on a voluntary basis and through internships in the “Hessen-wide links” section.


Hessen’s universities are highly committed to integrating refugees and asylum seekers into the German education and higher education system and thus into society. In order to make this commitment visible and to make better use of the potential of highly qualified refugees, the new section “Universities/Refugees” was set up in 2015. It provides an overview of the various offers and projects of the universities. In addition, press releases and events on this topic as well as initiatives by students and civil society organisations at the university locations are publicised.

WUS internships worldwide

The placement of interns with project partners in Chile, China, Eritrea, Ghana, Indonesia, Cameroon, Nicaragua, Palestine, Vietnam and especially to the WUS office in Wiesbaden has been established since about 1999 and is in great demand. The internship places are set up at co-operation partners of WUS and thus guarantee a direct involvement of the interns. The internships cannot be remunerated, so a lot of personal commitment is required. Therefore, the places are more suitable for more experienced students.

Special attention is drawn to the exciting challenges as interns at the VGU – Vietnamese-German University – in many areas (human resources, legal department, German conversation circles) and at the German department of Hanoi University    (participation in teaching, office hours and working group offers) in the “Hesse Room”.

EWIK – Portal Global Learning The Internet platform “EWIK

One World Internet Conference” has been offering a comprehensive service for development-related education on the Internet since 2000. From the very beginning, its editorial office has been with WUS. The portal Global Learning – the central German-language Internet offer for education for sustainable development – is supported by EWIK, an association of more than 110 organisations and institutions, all of which offer a variety of services for development-related education via the Internet.


The Internet platform is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which in 2007, in consultation with the members of EWIK, commissioned WUS to completely redesign this Internet portal. Both the internal (with the member organisations of EWIK) and the external networking as well as the public relations work for the portal is also largely done by WUS. It is the central website for teachers, those who want to inform themselves about Global Learning


offers or want to integrate them into their concrete work. This internet platform thus made an important development-related contribution to the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development [2005-2015. Ed.].

The portal contains a variety of different sections, which also refer to further databases, address directories and information collections. One section, for example, contains the most important theoretical texts on global learning, which can also be accessed online, and information, educational materials, contacts and publication opportunities on life in “One World” and on issues of development and globalisation.

In addition, there are selected One World teaching materials for download and research options for over 80 keywords in the thematic field of global learning, current events, campaigns, actions and competitions, basic texts and central resolutions on global learning, links to educational servers, databases, libraries and method manuals. Furthermore, it offers an overview of important development actors and networks, information on project funding, referrals to speakers and North-South partnerships. The entire range of information and material is continuously supplemented and updated, also through contributions from member organisations

Recently, the portal dealt with the current topics “food waste” and “waste and waste exports worldwide” as well as with “flight and asylum” and since 2019, the Global Learning Portal has, among other things, expanded the section on the Sustainable Development Goals – the SDGs – and sent the topic cards developed for this in large numbers to teachers and others. Furthermore, the portal responded to current developments such as the global climate protection movement with the focus on “Fridays for Future” in order to facilitate the treatment of the topic in schools and lessons. A new section on “Global learning in daycare centres” was also set up, followed in 2020 by a section on “Global learning in vocational education and training.”

A monthly newsletter on different topics informs interested parties free of charge, compactly and clearly about “Global Learning Online”. The portal also disseminates up-to-date information on educational materials, activities and events via social media.

EineWeltBlaBla” blog In addition to the Global Learning portal, an additional offer was designed at the end of 2016 with the blog “EineWeltBlaBla” (OneWorldBlaBla). It gives youth and young adults the opportunity to engage with Global Learning topics. In order to achieve this, contributions on “Economy & Critical Consumption”, “Politics & Current Affairs”, “Climate & Environment” as well as “Intercultural” provide information tailored to the target group. The blog’s contributions aim to arouse interest through adapted language, entertainment and aesthetics.

In addition, close co-operation with students, activists and teachers is sought in order to give students the opportunity to present their projects themselves authentically on the blog. The type of contribution is irrelevant. These can be image, sound or video recordings, text contributions as essays, interviews, in diary form or, for example, as a poem. There are   no limits to the imagination. EineWeltBlabla wants to use a little self-irony to convince young people that One World is worth campaigning for.

Grenzenlos (Borderless) global

The project “Grenzenlos – Global Learning in Vocational Education” was established by WUS with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the EU in 2003. It arranges teaching co-operation in all subject disciplines and in foreign language teaching between students and teachers at vocational schools as well as specially trained and qualified students from countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America as speakers.

In 2005, the project of this teaching co-operation was aligned as a UN Decade Project for the period 2005 to 2006 within the framework of the UN Agenda 2030 “Education for Sustainable Development”. In 2017, it received the sustainability award “ZeitzeichenN” and the international innovation award of the European Network for Global Education (GENE), and in 2018 it was recognised as an outstanding network with the highest award level by the German UNESCO Commission.


This WUS project targets vocational schools in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, Brandenburg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. Students from Africa, Asia and Latin America act as lecturers to teach sustainability topics and global learning in the classroom. The teaching co-operation served to implement the 2030 Agenda for Education for Sustainable Development in vocational education. They are free of charge for the vocational schools and particularly committed schools can apply for the “Borderless School” award.

The aim of the project is to share the expert knowledge of foreign students on the cultural, social and economic situation in their countries of origin. In return for an honorarium, these students – recently around 8,355 with 426 teacher co-operations at 83 different vocational schools in the above-mentioned federal states – teach the topics of sustainability and global learning in their lessons. The aim is to show how trade and economic relations between countries of the “One World” can be concluded fairly and how the production of goods and commodities can be made sustainable. The direct exchange of experiences not only expands the students’ specialist knowledge, but above all their intercultural skills.

Under the motto “Learning for life,” the project also offers foreign students the opportunity to prepare for their future role as mediators of knowledge in professional life during their studies, i.e., to gain practical experience. After passing a final oral examination, they receive a multilingual certificate as “Facilitator for Global and Intercultural Education”. In 2020, a new format was established, namely the information event “Vocational Schools in the World”. Here, Grenzenlos activists have their say and present vocational schools from their countries of origin to interested teachers. The aim of this format is to deepen already existing school partnerships in the “Grenzenlos School” network or to arouse interest in such a sponsorship.


FORUM Human Rights In the first years of the 21st century, WUS actively participated in the FORUM Menschenrechte, an association of 50 German human rights non-governmental organisations, of which WUS was a founding member. WUS initiated a working group on “Human Rights Education”. The focus was on anchoring human rights education in the formal and non-formal education landscape. Thus, on the initiative of WUS, the decision of the general meeting to establish a working group on human rights education in the FORUM Menschenrechte was implemented in 2001.

At the United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racist Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance in September 2001 in Durban/South Africa, this working group represented the implementation of demands in the areas of refugee rights and integration, exercise of human rights regardless of residence status, human rights education, data protection, observation of neo-fascist parties and groups.


WUS also succeeded in anchoring human rights education as one of the main topics of research and practice in the newly founded German Institute for Human Rights. The focal points continued to be the demand for an anti-discrimination law that conforms to human rights, the implementation of the results of the World Conference against Racism, Racist Discrimination, Xenophobia and Intolerance in the form of a National Action Plan, and the anchoring of human rights education in the formal and non-formal education landscape.

In this context, the “Forum against Racism” has succeeded in establishing a working group to develop the National Action Plan for the implementation of the Durban Final Document. Together with other members of the FORUM Menschenrechte, WUS has actively campaigned for the simultaneous implementation of the demands of the World Conference as part of the legislative initiative for an anti-discrimination law.

In addition to the focus on “human rights education”, the impact of poverty and social exclusion on educational opportunities for children from migrant families in Germany was addressed as a human rights issue. On behalf of the Forum Menschenrechte, WUS represented the Forum on the National Committee of the European Youth Campaign for Diversity, Human Rights and Participation at the German National Committee for International Youth Work, which successfully completed its work at the end of 2007.


In 2009, WUS also played a decisive role in the preparation and implementation of the forum conference “Promised and Violated – 50 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. In a new series of co-operative seminars with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a seminar series on the topic of “Human Rights as a Field of Work” was launched on the conceptual basis developed by WUS member Karl Richter.

Emergency fund for foreign students at Hessian universities

Since 2003, the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art has commissioned WUS to implement a Hessian Emergency Fund for foreign students. If these students get into an economic emergency situation through no fault of their own due to extraordinary circumstances or events in their respective home countries or due to illness and strokes of fate, they receive state support from the resources of this emergency fund. This is intended to enable them to cover their living expenses for a short period of time.

The emergency fund supports them if, after initially financing their studies themselves, it is feared that they will have to abandon their studies due to the emergency situation from which they cannot extricate themselves by their own efforts. In particular, students from crisis regions, from which it is difficult to obtain financial resources and who suffer particularly from the lack of financial support from their home countries, are to be helped. Assistance from the emergency fund allows them to continue their studies despite financial hardship. Priority support is given to those foreign students who are demonstrably close to or in the mid-term or final examinations.

The selection and support of foreign students in need through no fault of their own is based on criteria set by the Protestant and Catholic university communities in Hesse. In return for this support, they offer to give lectures about their country, to take part in discussions on questions of intercultural communication and in seminars on interreligious dialogue or reintegration seminars, and to help with the preparation.

In this context, it is also worth mentioning the commitment of WUS to foreign students who are in need in various ways due to the Covid 19 pandemic in 2020. These students’ applications for bridging assistance are fraught with red tape and unrealistic measures that make it difficult for students to submit these applications, which are essential for them to continue their studies. WUS appealed with publicity to the grant providers at the federal and state levels to help students in need quickly and unbureaucratically. Another semester without aid and with additional debt would force a great many foreign students to drop out of their studies and return to their home countries without a degree – with damage to the image of Germany as a country of education.

The following HessenFonds should also be seen in this context.

Portal “Refugees and universities”

Since 2016, the portal “Geflüchtete und Hochschulen” (Refugees and Universities) has been under the motto “Making the Commitment of Universities Visible”. It aims to support and network refugees and active people at German universities and educational institutions. In this way, what is on offer for better educational conditions is made more visible. The portal includes ongoing entries from German colleges and universities, foundations, and state government programs. Some offerings that were created specifically for refugees, especially since 2015, no longer exist or have been integrated into the universities’ international program for foreign students. The focus of funding has now shifted from preparing students for their studies to ensuring their success in their studies and preparing them for the labour market.

HessenFonds for highly qualified refugees

The Hessian Ministry of Science and the Arts (HMWK) launched the special program “HessenFonds für Flüchtlinge – hochqualifizierte Studierende/-innen” (Hessen Fund for Refugees – Highly Qualified Students and Scientists) in April 2016, among other things at the suggestion of WUS, in order to contribute to study and research opportunities for refugees at Hessian universities. WUS is entrusted with the implementation and administration of the scholarship program.

The HessenFonds scholarships are aimed at particularly talented and high-performing refugee students, doctoral candidates and scientists at Hessen’s state universities. The funding serves the target group to continue their studies, or academic career. The scholarship recipients report that they are finding their way around their university more and more and that their knowledge of technical language is also improving. This motivates them all the more to make rapid progress in their studies and scientific careers. In the meantime, many HessenFonds scholarship holders have been able to successfully complete their studies and take up a career.


Vietnam: Youth exchange and VGU

At the request of Vietnamese universities and the Vietnamese Student Union (VSW), the German Committee of WUS developed a program in the mid-1980s to support Vietnamese universities and students. The program was designed to help Vietnamese students overcome their years of international isolation and rejoin the international higher education community. The program has been accompanied by the awarding of sur-place scholarships since 1988.

The youth exchange “Hessen meets Vietnam – Vietnam meets Hessen” is particularly worth mentioning. In 2010, 50 young people from Hesse and Vietnam each received insights into a foreign country, its economy and its culture through encounter trips. Topics included an examination of global economic processes and concepts of fair trade, environmental education work and sustainability in tourism. This project was recognised as exemplary by the German UNESCO Commission in 2010 as part of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, as it imparts knowledge and skills for sustainable development of society.

The multifaceted commitment of WUS in Vietnam resulted in the establishment of the Vietnamese-German University (VGU) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. With its unity of research and teaching, the state university corresponds to the German model through the Federal State of Hesse and the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training, both of which had used the services of the WUS Committee in their co-operation since 1992.

The founding documents were signed on February 29, 2008 in the presence of Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Phan Gia Khiem, Foreign Minister and Vice Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The university was officially opened on September 10, 2008 in the presence of Roland Koch, Prime Minister of the State of Hesse, representatives of German WUS and Vietnamese statesmen.

The VGU has also been developed into a centre of excellence for co-operation in education and science between Germany, especially the State of Hesse, and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam with joint study programs at German, especially Hessian, and Vietnamese universities. Subjects are also taught in German and degrees in VGU are recognised equally in Vietnam and Germany, so that students interested in postgraduate studies can subsequently study at universities in Germany. This also serves to promote the German language and culture in Vietnam.

The VGU will also consolidate existing co-operation between Hessian universities and Vietnamese partners, establish new ones, and consolidate and institutionalise overall Hessian-Vietnamese study and research opportunities. Furthermore, the already existing exchange of students, teachers and researchers will be promoted even more strongly and in a more targeted manner.


In Germany, WUS was entrusted with the implementation of the Hessian-Vietnamese scholarship program of the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) in Vietnam and the Hessian Ministry of Science and Art in 2008, which is related to VGU. The program is an example of the close co-operation between Hesse and Vietnam that has developed over decades and makes a decisive contribution to the promotion of young scientists in Vietnam.

The scholarship holders are selected in advance by the Ministry of Education in Vietnam, which also provides the funding for the scholarships. WUS is primarily responsible for finding suitable doctoral supervision, courses of study or preparatory courses and, as a contact partner, supports the scholarship holders in the necessary organisational measures in their studies and generally during their stay and invites the students to participate in the seminars of the Study Support Program (STUBE).

Portal “German Countries in Development Policy”

This internet portal, which was set up by WUS in 2012 and has been maintained since then, offers cross-national information on development policy by means of thematic rubrics. It serves to network the 16 German states with each other and ensures a better public perception of the states and their diverse activities in development policy.

It reports on the development policy commitment of the states to “One World”, on their guidelines, resolutions, events and focal points of work, joint activities as well as funding opportunities and contact persons, and on their commitment to sustainable production and consumption methods, renewable energies and global partnerships, also in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals Agenda 2030.

The sections Press Releases and Events in the portal thus offer the possibility of a collective overview of the news on the development policy of the states. Furthermore, contact details and country information are regularly updated. An interactive world map illustrates the states’ commitment to partnership and can be used by a wide range of interested parties for further research. Each year, on the occasion of the “Day of German Unity”, the portal is represented with an information stand, where the different development policy commitments of the states are presented. 

The portal is in the tradition of a development policy that has been active in the states for over 50 years. The former Hessian Prime Minister Georg August Zinn, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, Willy Brandt, or the Prime Ministers Johannes Rau, Lothar Späth and Bernhard Vogel, as well as the Mayors of Bremen, Hans Koschnik and Henning Scherf have repeatedly given new impetus to the development policy of the states. WUS was commissioned by the 16 German states to edit the portal site.

PAUL: Water is life

The acronym PAUL stands for “Portable Aqua Unit for Livesaving” and is a water backpack that the Department of Urban Water Management at the University of Kassel developed and built around 2015 as a prototype for the treatment of potable water from contaminated surface water for the basic supply of small groups of 200 to 500 people. The water backpack’s filter achieves complete retention of particles and bacteria and the most extensive retention of viruses. The maintenance-free design can be used for ten years and can be used on foot in remote areas due to its low dead weight of only 20 kg.

The great performance potential of PAUL is demonstrated by the fact that a total of 1,200 liters of water can be filtered and made drinkable for up to 400 people in one day. The system is characterised by absolute drinking water purity, easy transportability, robustness, simple, maintenance-free handling and use without   external energy. These features make the backpack a reliable tool for self-help in the event of a disaster. Through personal relationships with the field, WUS initially handled the marketing and initial deliveries of PAUL for drinking water supplies in Haiti, Pakistan and Vietnam.

PAUL is now being used by the thousands in countries affected by increasing natural disasters worldwide, such as floods or earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, etc. There are currently nearly 3,000 water backpacks in use in 80 countries worldwide. PAUL is increasingly proving its worth in countries such as Ghana, India, Vietnam, Myanmar and many more, not only to provide water after disasters but also to ensure long-term permanent water supply in under-served regions of the world, thus making a significant contribution to health in these regions.

WUS Sponsorship Award In 2016, WUS offered for the first time the “WUS Sponsorship Award” for diploma, master, bachelor and state examination theses of students, graduates and graduates at German universities – regardless of the subject – with topics of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Flight and Migration, Human Right to Education, Global Learning and Education for Sustainable Development. The prize is €1,500 each.

An independent jury will make an appropriate selection from the submitted works. The award is presented at the annual meetings of WUS.

The current members of the jury are:

  • Dr. Christina Ayazi (Sigmund Freud Private University, Berlin)
  • Prof. Dr. Franz B. Frechen (Head of the Department of Urban Water Management, University of Kassel)
  • Prof. Dr. Wolf Rieck (former President of the VGU, Ho Chi Minh City, SR Vietnam
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrich Teichler (former Director of the International Center for Higher Education Research (INCHER), University of Kassel)
  • Mrs. Katharina Lipowski
  • Mrs. Nicole Schwabe
  • The co-ordinator of the sponsorship award is Helmut Becker, former member of the WUS board and former treasurer.


The winners of the WUS sponsorship award:

  •  2016: Nicole Schwabe: “Chilean Student Movement 2011-2015 and the Construction of Counter-Hegemony” and.
  •  Rosa Lynn Grave: “Motivation and understanding of the world by educational practitioners* in Africa and Asia.”
  •  2017: Andreas König: “Stranded People – Connecting the dots. Landscape-spatial perspectives on trans-Saharan migration routes” and
  •  Katharina Lipowski: “Triple Win through Circular Care Migration? – A qualitative study on the perspective of Vietnamese care workers in inpatient geriatric care in Germany.”
  • 2018: Miriam Bach and John-Martin Preuss: “Solizentrum Lübeck. A case study of resistance and solidarity in migration support.”
  • 2019: Svenja Binz, Julia Mira Brennauer and Phil-Torben von Lueder: “Urban agriculture in camp communities: New perspectives – Recommendations for action for community-based projects in the scope of urban agriculture in Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan” and
  • Jennifer-Louise Robinson: “Alone Together on Tahriib. How Somali people get to Germany off the beaten track with the help of social networks”.
  • 2020: Laura Huber: “Analysis of data collection and data evaluation for compliance with SDG 6”.

All students who handed in their theses are published on the website of WUS Germany, a unique archive of academic work.



The Intercap project – European CSO Higher Education Networks for Global Learning on Migration, Security and Sustainable Development in an Interdependent World – was established in 2017 because it became apparent that migration and its consequences were widely and increasingly perceived negatively by the European public, reinforcing latent racism.

The project brings together 13 organisations from 12 different EU countries and had an intended duration until 2020. The participating organisations specialise in teacher training, educational reform, sustainable development structure and migration. In addition, over 40 other stakeholders such as regional and local authorities, ministries, universities and civil society organisations are part of the broad network.

In Germany, InterCap is represented by WUS and carries out a wide range of activities aimed at building the capacity of education teachers in Germany through teacher training, education reform, sustainable development and migration, and promoting global learning on migration, security and sustainable development in an interdependent world. In 2018, the InterCap training package for online and face-to-face training was designed with the collaboration of all participating partner organisations. It is aimed at teacher trainers, teachers and student teachers to promote their critical understanding and strengthen development education.

The complete package consists of six parts covering Migration, Security and Sustainable Development in an Interdependent World: Theory and Practice, Development Education/Global Learning and Teacher Education, Participatory Education Method to Stimulate Dialogue and Critical Thinking: Philosophy for Children, Participatory Education Method: Open Spaces for Dialogue and Inquiry, Participatory Theatre Methods for Global Learning with reference to Theater for Living, Train the Trainer Pedagogy. WUS authored two learning units on “Development Education and Teacher Training”.

In 2019, InterCap sponsored two internships for student teachers at the WUS office in Wiesbaden. Through the short-term internships, they got the opportunity to gain insights into the work of internationally active non-governmental organisations, to gain practical experience in the field of global learning and to support the work of WUS projects.

In 2020, the project conducted four seminars for teacher trainers and multipliers as well as six workshops for teachers and trainee teachers. The workshops and seminars were dedicated to the topics of migration, sustainable development and global learning and showed how these topics can be anchored at many levels of education using participatory educational methods. The three-year project was scheduled to end in January 2021.

Public relations

The homepage www.wusgermany.de is an important medium for the public relations of WUS. It offers a comprehensive overview of all WUS activities. For example, under the heading “About us”, interested parties can learn more about the board of directors, the projects of WUS activists, how to become a member of WUS and which activities WUS has already carried out in the field of human rights work. Longer past activities can be accessed in the menu “News” under the heading “Archive”.

In the overview of best practice projects, WUS presents conferences, congresses and projects with a longer duration, which had a model character for subsequent events. In the menu “WUS Publications”, in addition to the regular WUS formats, such as the “Auszeit”, the quarterly newsletter “Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd” and the commemorative publication 60 Jahre WUS 1950 – 2010, other materials such as photo and poster exhibitions can be ordered.

The monthly online newsletter Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd informs about global learning and development policy in the 16 German states and the aforementioned print magazine “Rundbrief Bildungsauftrag Nord-Süd” contains reports on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN Agenda 2030.

With its public relations work, the information centre works towards the broadest possible participation and involvement of all in democratic processes and measures for sustainable development, also with a view to youth engagement.

In the area of development co-operation and global learning, the activities of the federal and state governments are presented. One section lists the relevant institutions, their activities and addresses, as well as resolutions and documents, e.g., all resolutions of the minister presidents on development co-operation of the German states since 1962. The section on Europe, which is structured analogously, is also a novelty in this scope and range. Both pan-European news and news from individual countries are included here, in addition to updating the sections on educational materials and book reviews. The One World events calendar can also be found on the homepage. This is sent out monthly with the newsletter and excerpts are published in the newsletter and in the Frankfurter Rundschau.

Since 1997, WUS has been represented in the working group “Lernen und Helfen in Übersee e.V.” (Learning and Helping Overseas), in the Association for Development Policy (VENRO), in the Paritätischer Wohlfahrtsverband/Parität International (Parity Welfare Association International), in the NGO Women’s Forum and in the Forum Menschenrechte (Human Rights Forum), in the advisory board of the STUBE program in Baden-Württemberg, STUBE in Rhineland-Palatinate/Saarland, in the advisory board of the program “Hospitation und Volontariat” (Internship and Voluntary Service) at Dienste in Übersee (Overseas Services) and in the funding committee of the Zentralstelle für Arbeitsvermittlung für rückkehrende Fachkräfte aus Entwicklungsländern (Central Office for the Placement of Returning Experts from Developing Countries) and in the “Entwicklungspolitisches Bildungs- und Informationszentrum e. V.” – EPIZ – in Berlin and in the Association of Development Non-Governmental Organizations of Brandenburg – VENROB

On the European level, there has been co-operation with the North-South Center of the Council of Europe in Lisbon within the framework of the  “Global Education Week” for several years. This Europe-wide campaign on global learning takes place annually in the third week of November. The Infostelle is responsible for coordination at the federal level. The WUS newsletter with information and current activities of WUS was included in the public relations work in 2015.


A wealth of diverse tasks

Within the scope of this article, not all activities of WUS can be described in detail. In the publication 60 Years of World University Service (see Literature, p. 108ff) there are a number of diverse reports on its scope of tasks and activities, and especially on the educational work in the field of development policy as well as concrete projects such as scholarship programs and sur-place scholarships in a number of African, Asian and Latin American countries as well as the WUS anti-apartheid programs, for example in South Africa and Namibia.

WUS has carried out projects in a number of African, Asian and Latin American countries, mostly with similar organisations on the ground, in accordance with its terms of reference.   

Without claiming to be exhaustive, these include in

  • Ethiopia: Placement of vocational school teachers and lecturers for local universities (2010/2011)
  • Chile: Women’s school “Citizens of the 21st Century” in Santiago 1997. Qualification in questions of career entry and business start-up and in questions of local government, Supervision of Chilean female and male doctoral candidates and, in 2007, supervision of 50 annual doctoral scholarship holders from Chile at Hessian universities, Help with the return and reintegration of Chilean exiles, Fair (soccer) trade to schools and youth clubs, Placement of interns to WUS project partners (2017).
  • China: Placement of interns with project partners of WUS.
  • Eritrea: Qualification programs and promotion of humanitarian projects in Eritrea (1994), Financing of an economic and cultural center in the city of Asmara with funds from the States of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Hesse and Bremen, Fair (soccer) trade to schools and youth clubs
  • Indonesia: Placement of interns to WUS project partners (2017).
  • Iraq: alleviating the plight of Palestinian refugees in Baghdad (2003), Helping to rebuild the looted German Studies Library at Baghdad University (2010).
  • Malaysia: Support for Malay technical college students (2010)
  • Palestine: Educational projects in the peace process (2011)


The year names refer to the beginning of the projects or the reference in the respective activity report of WUS DK. e.V.

In the above description of the WUS projects, the formulations of the annual reports 1980 to 2018/2019 were partly shortened, reworded, occasionally taken over verbatim.

The WUS secretariat has brochures, leaflets and other information material on the individual areas of activity, which are available on request.

Information is also provided by the homepages www.wusgermany.de, as well as www.facebook. com/wusgermany and twitter.com/wusgermany

Sources and literature

Books World University Service Deutsches Komitee e. V.

Activity reports of the WUS 1980 – 2019. World University Service Deutsches Komitee e. V. (2010). 60 years of World University Service in Germany 1950-2010. Wiesbaden. Grigoleit, Jonathan (1960).

10 years of World University Service in Germany 1950-1960. Becker, Helmut, Kambiz Ghawami, and Gerd Köhler (1983).

AUS for foreign students? – Tightening the right of residence. Freiburg i.Br: Dreisam Vlg.


 International Student Services (1950),  Report on ISS and World Student Relief – (with annual data 1920- 1950


World University Service International, Annual Report 1953/54.

 General Assembly of WUS International in Germany (1960)

Friedrich Glum, WUS-President, (1960) Address at the opening session of the General Assembly of WUS International

Address Dr, Ludwig Ehrhard, Vice Chancellor and Minister of Economics

Newspaper clippings

Honorary Committee

Minutes of the Meeting of the General Assembly, Tutzing, Germany, August 6-13, 1960 (…)

Deutsche Zeitung (1960/61?).

Die Umschau – The end of care.

World University Service. International Program of Action 1961-62.

Harald Ganns and Horst Breier, papers Politisches Engagement oder Disengagement im WUS, Symposium Heidelberg 1963.

World University Service German Committee (1964), WUS-Nachrichten, 13 Jg, No. 8. World University Service German Committee (1974).

Activities of the German WUS. Bonn. World University Service German Committee (1988).

WUS-Lima Declaration on Academic Freedom and Autonomy for Tertiary Educational Institutions. Lima, Sept. 6-10, 1988. (German version).

Wiesbadener Tageblatt (1995). Nelson Mandela also appreciates the WUS work. Fundanga, Caleb M. (1997). Report to the World University Service Meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany 6th to 7th December 1997.

Schmidt, Bettina (2013). Obituary of Nelson R. Mandela. World University Service German Committee (2013).

Obituary of Nelson Mandela. World University Service German Committee (2018).

WUS committees worldwide.

Kraushaar, Wolfgang (2018). Die 68er-Bewegung international – Eine illustrierte Chronik 1960-1969. vol. I-IV, Stuttgart 2018 (in Wikipedia).

See also bibliography in the article “100 Jahre World University Service: Geschichte – Wirken – Entwicklungen”

Author profile
Wolfgang Nies

Wolfgang Nies joined WUS in 1960 when a student in Heidelberg as a staff member of the local committee there. At the General Assembly in Heidelberg in 1961 he was elected to the Executive Board of the German Committee of WUS, where he served until the General Assembly in Hamburg in 1964. He then moved to the main committee, which at that time was to deal with longer-term aspects of the work and tasks of WUS. Also, during his professional activity as a banker (Deutsche Bank AG, Helaba Luxembourg and Helaba Dublin as Managing Director), he remained connected to WUS as a personal member and took over the task of the internal cash audit of the association for some time.