F&L: What value does the training have at Chinese universities?
Reinhart Poprawe: Few differences are discernible. Training - and thereby the highest quality training in the country - is and remains a prominent primary task of the universities. In the past few decades, research has increasingly been added to this though. Where the technical-natural science Nobel Prizes were once often earned in the research labs of major industry (e.g. Bell Labs), the focus today has shifted. And particularly the integration of demanding, practical research into the training leads to innovation-capable young academics. The Fraunhofer Society's principle is today considered a benchmark in this around the globe, and we can be pleased and proud of our forefathers, who already recognised this principle and its relevance for innovation over 60 years ago in Germany.
F&L: Is the German diploma recognised and acknowledged as a brand in China?
Reinhart Poprawe: It certainly is.
F&L: To what extend must a German professor teaching at a Chinese university adapt to the Chinese system of study? Can they bring their teaching methods with them, so to speak?
Reinhart Poprawe: This question doesn't actually come up. They can and will use their curricula as they have developed them. They also cannot change their methods overnight. Interesting is the question of how Chinese students react to it. The answer - the quote here would be "private communication" - is simple: the young people react accordingly, i.e. they see the 'other', adapt unprompted, and ask question after question after question ... - in an entirely un-Chinese fashion.
F&L: Do German engineers tend to be recruited by German companies in China as they are better trained, or are Chinese applicants preferred as they are more familiar with the Chinese market and prepared to work for less?
Reinhart Poprawe:You will have to put that question to Chinese and German companies, but what we heard from both categories is not clear. There are smaller branch offices in China that are 100 per cent foreign-owned and have 100 per cent Chinese engineers and employees, and other, larger companies that favour German engineers. But the tendency is currently more towards Chinese employees with the argument that they understand the clients better - not only in terms of culture but also in terms of language, as barely any medium-sized companies speak English. It seems important to me here that the German companies are currently undergoing a paradigm change: not many months ago, there was an economic bogeyman image of China; the fear of loss by the training Chinese competition dominated. Today the picture is a different one: the absolute majority of our partners and customers in the field of research see a market and potential partnership in Chinese companies. Win-win is the order of the day.