Italy and Germany have strengthened their collaboration in higher education and research with the extension of a joint university centre established in 2003. The German-Italian University Centre (DIH) was due to close its virtual doors in 2008, but it will now continue operating for a further five years. 'We will use the dynamic of the Bologna Process [EU plan to create a European Higher Education Area by 2010] to intensify German-Italian university relations,' said German Minister for Education and Research, Annette Schavan. The DIH was created in order to bring together the many different forms of cooperation in existence between German and Italian universities, and to strengthen this cooperation. The DIH will now also establish a joint degree with grants for those following it, and a conference on the German-Italian dialogue. These activities will be funded with €250,000 from each country. On the German side, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provides €5 million annually for programmes in German universities that have a focus on Italy. In 2005 1,293 Germans were studying in Italy, and 6,700 Italians in Germany. There are now more than 1,000 partnerships in place between German and Italian universities. All bilateral exchange programmes now come under the umbrella of the DIH.