Germany National Experiences

Published: 08/03/2011 | Modified: 28/01/2016, 2:45 pm

Contact details of the institution hosting the BHO


German Aerospace Center – Project Management Agency

Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e. V. (DLR)
DLR Projektträger
Heinrich-Konen-Straße 1
53227 Bonn
Phone: +49228 3821-1659
URL website:
URL national EURAXESS portal:

Bridgehead Organisation

The BHO is hosted by the German Aerospace Center – Project Management Agency.

EURAXESS Services Centres

There are no ESCs in Germany.

Local Contact Points

There are 50 LoCPs hosted by universities and research institutions all over Germany.

Structure of the national network

At the BHO, seven persons work with EURAXESS (the equivalent of 4.5 full-time positions). All of them have other tasks as well.

At the EURAXESS Contact Points the situation varies from institution to institution, but most of them have at least one employee providing services to mobile researchers. The staff size ranges from one person in small institutions to a higher number in larger institutions.

Full-time equivalent staff: Number of persons:
BHO: 4.5 BHO: 7

Declaration of Commitment (DoC)

Currently (June 2013), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as well as 21 EURAXESS Contact Points have signed the Declaration of Commitment. The German EURAXESS network was initially set up in 2003 as an open network based primarily on informal collaboration with no obligation to sign the Declaration of Commitment. This system was implemented as the appropriate arrangement in a country characterized by its federal structures. Recently, the number of German EURAXESS Contact Points signing the Declaration of Commitment has increased steadily and significantly as is expected to continue to rise even further. This is due to the fact that the German EURAXESS Contact Points have become increasingly aware of the additional benefits the signature of the Declaration of Commitment entails.

National funding of the EURAXESS Services Network

The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation receives funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research for its activities as BHO. The LoCPs do not receive any extra funding.

Target groups of the Bridgehead Organisation

  • German EURAXESS network (administrative staff at universities and research institutions)
  • European Commission
  • Federal Ministry of Education and Research
  • National authorities
  • Other networks
  • EURAXESS Services Network at the European level
  • Interested media

Target groups of the EURAXESS Services Centres

  • Not applicable

Target groups of the Local Contact Points

  • Local authorities

Relationship and communication between the BHO, the Steering Group for Human Resources and Mobility for Researchers (SG HRM), the National Contact Points (NCPs) and the Programme Committee

BHO: Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

SG HRM: Federal Ministry of Education and Research

NCP People: Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

Programme Committee: Alexander von Humboldt Foundation

The BHO is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. There is ongoing communication between the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The communication takes place in formal ways, e.g. through the board meetings or the meetings to define the goals for the following year, twice a year; and in informal ways, e.g. in telephone conversations about every other week.
The NCP is also part of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation; therefore, there is a constant flow of information. The NCP is represented in the Programme Committee.

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1. Best practice competition: ‘Welcome Centres’

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:46 pm

In 2006, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and the Deutsche Telekom Foundation designed a joint programme, ‘Welcome Centres for internationally mobile researchers’, to strengthen the international competitiveness and appeal of Germany’s universities. The objective of this best practice competition is to encourage German universities to build and further develop effective structures for optimal support of internationally mobile researchers and their families. Two successful rounds of the competition (2006 and 2008) so far have raised awareness that these newly-established support structures for guest researchers play a significant role in the universities’ strategies for internationalisation, and have provided them with a clear competitive edge internationally. In the meantime, numerous universities have started to develop their own Welcome Centres or similar structures even without funding from this programme. A third and last call for applications, launched in 2010, builds on this success. The third round addresses universities that have already developed successful support structures for internationally mobile researchers, regardless of whether they call them ‘Welcome Centres’ or something else. The partner organizations are now seeking concepts that take these achievements to a new level; ideas that can make the current Welcome Centre one of the best of its kind worldwide. Universities are asked to illustrate the special aspects and achievements of their existing support structures for internationally mobile researchers, as well as provide an outlook on planned future developments (as opposed to rounds one and two, where we asked for planned structures and services at Welcome Centres that were yet to be established). For further information, visit

Download AvH Welcom folder

2. European Charter for Researchers: taking the lead on a national level

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:46 pm

When the European Charter for Researchers was published, it triggered debates all over Europe on how to make researchers’ careers more attractive. In the autumn of 2006, the Humboldt Foundation and its EURAXESS National Coordination point took the lead in introducing the topic into the German research community. Events were organized to discuss the Researchers’ Charter with other science organisations, resulting in a joint declaration commenting on the Charter’s opportunities and critical points (published under In January 2008, the Humboldt Foundation, host of EURAXESS Germany, was the first funding organisation in Germany to sign the European Charter for Researchers and to subscribe to European standards for promoting science in connection with an implementation protocol (see Since then, the Humboldt Foundation has taken the Charter as a benchmark for improving its own funding programmes. In addition, several workshops for the national EURAXESS network have been dedicated to the European Charter.

3. The Scientific Visa: bringing the different players together

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:46 pm

The Humboldt Foundation has been acting as the German BHO for the EURAXESS network since 2003. As such, it provides a ‘one-stop shop’ for mobile researchers ( Many thousands of scientists and scholars visit its website every month; more than 1000 questions from researchers are answered monthly. The network of ‘researcher advisors’/LoCPs at higher education institutions and research establishments in Germany collaborating with EURAXESS Germany continues to grow. The network is usually invited twice a year to events organized by EURAXESS Germany. In the context of these events, current topics relating to researcher mobility issues are dealt with and best practices are exchanged.A particularly successful example was the introduction of the Scientific Visa: Over a period of almost three years, EURAXESS Germany had speakers keeping the network informed about the latest developments. At each of these events, the Federal Office for Migration and Research (BAMF) responsible for the implementation of the Scientific Visa was present. Representatives of the BAMF held discussions with people from international offices who presented their everyday problems. Thus, a mutual understanding was created. The BAMF was even able to take some ideas back and further improve the guidelines concerning implementation. In the course of these events, the connection was also made between the BAMF and the German Rectors´ Conference. As a result, the Rectors´ Conference took up discussions with the BAMF, further increasing the BAMF’s awareness of the needs of mobile researchers and contributing to a continuous improvement of the implementation guidelines. For further information on the events for the national level, visit

4. Closing knowledge and awareness gaps

Published: 09/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:46 pm

The University of Bonn takes an individual advisory approach for its foreign academics—and, at the same time, is building a broad information system where it can compile its know-how. The key to its success is regular cooperation with external specialists.

The Welcome Centre was established in January 2007 at the University of Bonn as a central contact office for foreign researchers and academics. In the ‘Welcome Centres’ competition held by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Deutsche Telekom Foundation and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, the Welcome Centre in Bonn was awarded for its concept and received financial support from these organisations. Its main task is to advise and support foreign researchers, academics and their families in all matters related to organising their stay and everyday life in Germany. But the advisory office is more than a reception centre for foreign guests. It was also designed as a support service for advisors in the university’s institutes, who are usually the first to be confronted with the questions and problems of international personnel.

The Welcome Centre serves as an initial contact office and an interface between various relevant actors and offices. By compiling inquiries centrally, the Centre can produce synergy effects and build up its competence. Consequently, the staff is already capable of answering a great deal of questions first-hand. Legal issues and complex topics however are referred to external experts. When necessary, they can assist researchers with their know-how directly.

Pension insurance plans represent a particularly complicated topic, on which neither the personnel department nor the Welcome Centre is capable of providing in-depth advice. Thus, the Centre takes a cooperative approach with the Deutsche Rentenversicherung in Bonn, where there are specific contact persons for assisting foreign citizens and can provide advice in English. The Welcome Centre recommends visiting academics to make an appointment there, at the latest before departing from Germany, to find out about pension rights or the possibility of reimbursement of their contributions. In addition to the year-round advisory service, the Welcome Centre seeks to raise awareness on the significance of social security and pensions in the context of academic mobility. Accordingly, the Centre and the Deutsche Rentenversicherung organise joint information events and individual advisory talks at the University of Bonn on a regular basis.

For the University of Bonn and the Deutsche Rentenversicherung as well, the English language event of this nature was a first. Surely there is greater potential for extending the amount of information and advisory services provided in English by the insurance and pension providers, not just from the statutory perspective, but also the private and company pension systems.

Quote from Odenthal, Tina: ‘Closing Knowledge and Awareness Gaps’, p. 38-41
In: Mobility without Security?: The Debate on Retirement Pensions in the European Higher Education and Research Area
Published by the German Rectors´ Conference (HRK), Bonn, October 2009, 59 p.

1. Portal management timetable

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:38 pm

The content and the links of the German EURAXESS portal are updated regularly throughout the year. Several colleagues are responsible for updating different sections of the portal. There is a set timetable that determines when each colleague has to update the part he or she is responsible for. To ensure that the colleagues don’t forget their tasks, a special reminder system has been implemented. All the sections in the portal are listed in an Excel file, including fields for the person responsible for each one and the dates for required updates. The portal administrator receives electronic reminders of all the dates and reminds the responsible colleagues that they must update their respective sections of the portal.

The system is very helpful in keeping up the quality of the portal throughout the year, even at times when the workload is high. One has to sit down once to decide which part of the portal is supposed to be updated how often and by whom. Afterwards, a system is in place that ensures that the dates are not forgotten. The system is even helpful for smaller countries with one person working on the portal, as this person will receive reminders as well.

2. How to draw on legal expertise without hiring a full-time lawyer

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:38 pm

Many members of the EURAXESS Services Network will know the situation: you are in need of legal advice, but lack the funding to hire a full-time lawyer.

In its role as BHO, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation maintains the portal. The portal provides information for internationally mobile researchers wishing to come to Germany or go abroad to work in research. It receives visits from several thousand mobile researchers per month. To ensure that the information on the portal is correct and updated regularly, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation has reached an agreement with a law firm that specializes in high-skilled workforce mobility. The law firm updates all the legal information on our portal once a year. If necessary, the agreement is flexible enough so that parts of the website can be updated more frequently throughout the year if policy regulations change.

In addition, we forward a small number of specific mobility-related legal questions, which are of interest to a wider audience, to the law firm. The law firm then develops them as Frequently Asked Questions. These questions and answers are then placed on our web portal, thus being available to a large number of researchers. The agreement with the law firm will remain in force for several years.

By now the firm is used to our clients and their special needs as well as to the concepts and the wording in our portal. On several occasions we have invited a representative of the law firm as a speaker to some of our national events on topics such as taxes and social security. According to the feedback we received from our national network, these presentations were very useful to them.

3. Easy access to information on funding, quality assurance included

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:38 pm

A funding database has been included in the German EURAXESS portal. It covers more than 80 programmes offered by funding organisations in Germany. The programmes essentially address scientists and scholars at advanced stages in their careers.

Interested scientists may select the appropriate entries by country, research area and type of programme, and may use all the selection criteria at the same time.

EURAXESS Germany ensures the high-quality of its database: a staff member coordinates each entry with the respective funding organisation before including it in the database. The standardised entries contain basic information on the sponsorship programme, such as type of sponsorship, eligibility requirements, length of sponsorship, availability and a link to the respective programme website. Once a year, all programmes are checked by a staff member of EURAXESS Germany to find out if all the displayed details are still up to date. To make sure that all relevant programmes are included in the database, EURAXESS Germany constantly for new programmes.

4. How the German EURAXESS portal team works

Published: 10/05/2011 | Modified: 06/05/2014, 1:38 pm

The German EURAXESS portal is managed by one portal administrator who is responsible for the overall site content and devotes approximately 20% of her working hours to portal management.

The portal administrator receives support from three colleagues: one is responsible for the fellowship database, one for the ‘Research Landscape’ and ‘Careers in Research’ sections, and a third colleague assists in updating links and making minor changes to the content. All three of these people devote only a small part of their overall working hours to the portal.

All technical issues are outsourced to an IT expert. That person provides the content management system for all the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation websites.

We outsource content updates of legal information to a law firm (see Germany 2).

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1. General information

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 4:38 pm

  • Social security covers health insurance, pension schemes, unemployment benefit, accident and nursing care insurance. Civil servants do not pay social security contributions, but enjoy full social security coverage.
  • German citizens are covered via their parents until the age of 25. Afterwards they become members of the statutory health insurance for students.

2. Foreign employee

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 4:38 pm

  • Employees pay fixed statutory social security contributions and enjoy full coverage
  •  Generally, researchers with temporary employment contracts at a German institution enjoy the same entitlements as employees with fixed contracts. The length of the contract might influence certain entitlements

3. Foreign researcher without contract

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 4:39 pm

  • No social security coverage, but health insurance is mandatory.
  • EU/EEA citizens must bring European Health Insurance Card or A1.
  • Third country nationals must have comprehensive insurance, which can be bought from private insurance companies in Germany

4. Foreign student

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 4:39 pm

  • Ph.D. candidates who are employed have full coverage.
  • Ph.D. candidates who come for shorter stays are treated as researchers with own means

5. Comments on benefits

Published: 15/12/2014 | Modified: 15/12/2014, 4:40 pm

All employed citizens

  • Health coverage is mandatory – can be statutory or, if salary exceeds a certain amount, private
  • Pension schemes, incl. disability pensions, old-age pensions, sickness benefits etc. are part of the statutory contribution. Certain rules apply to recognitions of pension rights from/to Germany
  • Unemployment insurance – all who have worked for at least 12 months in the last 2 years.
  • Accident insurance covers accidents at work
  • Nursing insurance is linked to health coverage and covers domestic and in-patient care.

6. Eager to learn more?

Published: 19/12/2014 | Modified: 09/01/2015, 1:55 pm

If you would like more information then download the complete table from here