Decisions in the Excellence Strategy – German Excellence Commission Elected Ten Excellence Universities

Last Friday, 19th July, the Excellence Commission of the German Federal Government and the German federal states selected four EIT Health Partners as excellence universities in Germany.

EIT Health Germany Partners Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Technische Universität München and Karlsruher Institut für Technologie (KIT) were selected as one of 11 universities of excellence from a total of 63 German universities that had applied for the title:

RWTH Aachen copyright Wikipedia
  • Rheinish-Westphalian Technical University Aachen
  • Verbund Berlin
  • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University Bonn
  • Dresden University of Technology
  • University of Hamburg
  • Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • University of Konstanz
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen

With the so-called “Excellence Strategy”, the Federal Government and the federal states intend to support research at universities in Germany permanently. But the competition is not just about money: the selected elite universities also enjoy a higher reputation with their new title – as do their students.

The Library of the Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg (AP Photo/Daniel Roland)

The Federal Minister of Education and Research, Anja Karliczek, and Professor Dr. Eva Quante-Brandt, Bremen Senator for Science, Health and Consumer Protection, both of whom are also deputy and chairwoman of the Joint Science Conference of the Federal Government and the Länder (GWK), announced which universities will receive annual funding totalling 148 million euros from 1st November 2019. Professor Dr. Martina Brockmeier (Chairwoman of the German Science Council) and Professor Dr. Peter Strohschneider, President of the German Research Foundation (DFG), explained the procedure and procedures of the decision and drew up an interim balance of the Excellence Strategy.

The selection procedure

The DFG then handed over the relay to the Science Council, which is responsible for implementing the science-led process in the Excellence Universities funding line. From the end of January to the beginning of May 2019, site visits took place at the universities and consortia, involving a total of 190 reviewers (more than 90 percent of whom came from abroad). In the process, the respective universities were considered as overall institutions: For example, the initial prerequisites and preliminary work were examined, particularly in research, but also in other areas such as teaching, transfer and research infrastructures. In addition, the plans had to be convincing as to how and in which direction the university as a whole would like to develop further.

From 16 to 18 July 2019, the 39 members of the international panel of experts evaluated the individual evaluation results in a comparative manner. On the basis of the funding recommendations of the expert panel, the decisions were taken by the Excellence Commission on 19 July 2019. It is made up of the members of the expert panel and the science ministers of the federal and state governments. A funding decision required a majority of the votes of the scientific members of the Excellence Commission and at least 25 votes from the Federal Government and the Länder together.

The future of the excellence strategy

Generally the funding is designed to be permanent. The administrative agreement formulates two requirements for this: In seven years’ time, the universities now receiving funding must again acquire at least two or (as a group) three clusters of excellence in order to continue to meet the formal funding requirements. On the other hand, the universities will be evaluated and further funded if the results are positive. If the competitive procedure is successful, four new funding cases will be included in the second round of calls for proposals starting in 2026. In the Excellence Clusters funding line, 57 clusters of excellence have been funded at a total of 34 universities since 1st January 2019.

A list with the names of the funded universities can also be found here.