Eastern Michigan University’s Political Science Department and President Susan Martin welcomed a 15-person study abroad group from the University of Applied Sciences in Kehl, Germany, Thursday.
“Eastern’s public administration program is well known,” Martin said. “Sharing our mutual knowledge and expertise benefits Eastern and Kehl students.”
EMU and Kehl faculty members, along with Martin, discussed the differences and similarities between German and American universities, including Germany’s lack of college mascots and athletic programs at the university level.
The public university in Kehl is funded by the German government.
It teaches a public service program used to educate career civil servants, and is a small school, with around 1,000 students and 38 faculty members.
The University of Applied Sciences is an oddity in the German education system: Its students’ tuition is paid for by the German government, who also pay them for attending on the condition that they work for the government after graduating.
“We don’t have to pay for college; we get paid to go,” said Jonas Mauch, one of the students from Kehl, when asked why he had chosen to become a career civil servant.
“It’s a safe job,” German student Julia Gugel said.
She said it was a particularly attractive choice for women wanting to work and still have children because of the generous benefits package and job security offered to German civil servants.
Kehl has been sending study abroad groups to EMU since the early 2000s, but this year marks the first time Kehl and EMU students attended a jointly held formal seminar.
“For a number of years, the students would come onto campus [and] we would greet them [and] engage in some discussions,” said EMU political science professor Joseph Ohren. “But we’ve never had anything formal like this.”
Ohren was responsible for planning this year’s visit.
“We began to talk about how can we strengthen this. How can we make it more meaningful for the students coming over and for us? And what emerged was this idea of a joint seminar,” Ohren said.
After being greeted by EMU officials, the German students were given a campus tour, attended a lecture held by Ohren and taken to Frenchie’s in Ypsilanti’s Depot Town for dinner.
On Friday, EMU and Kehl students spent the day presenting research papers concerning municipal finance and budgeting in room 300 of the Student Center. EMU Provost Kim Schatzel and Tom Venner, dean of EMU’s College of Arts and Sciences, stopped in briefly to greet them.
“Economic development is such an important topic,” Schatzel said. “We’re fortunate to have them as partners.”
The Kehl group will continue on to California for its study abroad trip, where they will attend a seminar at another university before returning to Germany.
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