’Campus initiative for international specialists’: TU Ilmenau promotes talent

Gruppenbild von Ausländischen Studierenden der TU Ilmenau bei einem Besuch von BOSCH in EisenachAryna Brusnihina
Foreign students from the TU Ilmenau during a visit to BOSCH in Eisenach

From the winter semester 2024/25, the Technische Universität Ilmenau will be participating in the "Campus Initiative for International Specialists": The large-scale project supports talented students who do not come from Germany at the start of their English-language Master's degree course. For four semesters, they take part in the "International Engineers for Thuringia" program, which not only prepares them for their studies at TU Ilmenau, but also for the Thuringian job market. The German Academic Exchange Service is funding the four-year project with a good 1.1 million euros. The "Campus Initiative for International Professionals" was presented to the public yesterday (05.06.2024) in the presence of Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger.

Those who are currently studying in Germany in English face many difficulties: it is not easy to integrate and feel at home at university and in the city, not least because of language barriers, the teaching and learning culture at university is different to that in their home country, and starting a career is not easy either: the application process in Germany is unfamiliar and foreign employees encounter completely new expectations in companies that they are expected to meet, they encounter misunderstandings and sometimes rejection.

The German Academic Exchange Service, a joint institution of German universities and student bodies to foster their international relations, has launched the "FIT - Förderung internationaler Talente zur Integration in Studium und Arbeitsmarkt" (FIT - Supporting International Talent for Integration into Studies and the Job Market) funding program to make it easier for students coming from abroad to start their careers in Germany. With the target group-specific structured program "International Engineers for Thuringia", TU Ilmenau was included in the FIT funding program and can now support 80 foreign students starting their studies in the winter semesters 2024/25 and 2026/27.

As there is a severe shortage of skilled workers in engineering professions in Thuringia and throughout Germany, TU Ilmenau selected four corresponding Master's degree courses for the program: "Communications and Signal Processing","Micro- and Nanotechnologies","Research in Computer and Systems Engineering" and "Research in Media Engineering". At the same time, drop-out rates among engineering students are high throughout Germany. For this reason, students' academic performance in the "International Engineers for Thuringia" program is regularly evaluated throughout their studies in order to help them successfully complete their studies.

In order to be able to prepare for their place of study before they arrive in Germany, a virtual group room is being developed through a virtual reality environment, which can be used with corresponding language and socio-cultural preparation offers as well as student initiatives, for example a group buddy format. The virtual group meeting point will be maintained during the course of study so that students can continue to exchange ideas within the group.

In the first two semesters, the two-year Master's course is predominantly sociocultural and language-oriented. Students are given an intensive introduction to German teaching culture and intercultural training in their everyday lives. During the lecture-free period in March and September, they attend an intensive German language course. Teaching and administrative staff at TU Ilmenau also receive further training in intercultural understanding and intercultural communication so that they can guide students through their studies in the best possible way.

During their studies, the engineering students visit Thuringian companies where they carry out real professional tasks or do a taster internship. This allows both sides to decide at an early stage whether a future in the company is worthwhile for the students. Students also acquire practical skills in science camps right from the start of their studies.

Intensive career coaching takes place in the third and fourth semesters, in which students learn how to apply for jobs. They practise job interviews in role plays and receive guidance on creating a career profile and advice on working in Thuringia and legal issues.

In the "International Engineers for Thuringia" project, TU Ilmenau works closely with the Federal Employment Agency, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and the Thuringian Agency for the Recruitment of Skilled Workers. The aim is to create a positive welcoming culture for foreign workers in Thuringian companies. The companies, in turn, will receive impulses for new offers with which skilled workers can be recruited and retained in the company. An incentive system is already planned to make it easier to bring companies and workers together.

Sophia Siegfried, Head of the International Office at TU Ilmenau, emphasizes that not only the students on the four project courses, but all of the university's almost 2,000 foreign students will benefit from the project: "We are already developing measures during the project to prepare all non-German students specifically for starting a career in Thuringian companies. In addition, a new mentoring program with graduates of TU Ilmenau who work in Thuringian companies will help to attract new foreign specialists."



Sophia Siegfried
Head of International Office
+49 3677 69-2510