German Universities Excellence Initiative

Key information

  • Universities affiliated

    • The Excellence Initiative of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the German Research Foundation aims to promote cutting-edge research and to create outstanding conditions for young scholars at universities, to deepen cooperation between disciplines and institutions, to strengthen international cooperation of research, and to enhance the international appeal of excellent German universities. It is the result of lengthy negotiations between the federal government and the German states.

      Since almost all German universities are public (most private universities do not have the official German "Universitätsstatus"), and therefore mainly paid by taxes and generally egalitarian, there is no German Ivy League of institutions of higher education. However, the Excellence Initiative aims to strengthen some selected universities more than others in order to raise their international visibility. The initiative is conducted by the German Research Foundation (DFG) together with the German Council of Science and Humanities (WR). More than 30 universities in total received funding. It includes three lines of funding:

      1st line of funding: The establishment of more than 40 research schools for young scientists and PhD candidates, which will receive one million euros each per year.

      2nd line of funding: The creation of thirty so-called Clusters of Excellence, that connect universities with leading German research institutes and businesses. Annually, these clusters will receive around 6.5 million euros each to fund their work.

      3rd line of funding: The selection of 11 Universities of Excellence, which will be funded highly for their "future concepts", i.e., institutional strategies to promote top-level university research. Particularly this third line of funding has drawn appreciable international attention, both in academia and media.

      Altogether 2.7 billion euros (1.9 billion for 2007-2012) of additional funds will be distributed over the coming five years, most of this coming from the federal government. The German Council of Science and Humanities is responsible for the third line of funding, and the German Research Foundation is responsible for the first and second lines of funding. These funds are to be available in the first instance for the universities and their partner institutions until 2017.