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Excellence Strategy

Excellence Strategy of the Federal and State Governments | Logo

The Excellence Strategy (ExStra) aims at strengthening universities by promoting scientific excellence and supporting the development of institutional profiles and cooperation in the German higher education and research system. In this way, ExStra strengthens Germany as a location for science and research by improving its international competitiveness. The aim is to support excellence in research while also raising the overall quality of higher education and research in Germany.

As a permanent funding programme of the German federal and state governments, ExStra consists of two funding lines:

  • With the Clusters of Excellence, the programme funds internationally competitive research fields at German universities and university consortia. Since January 2019, 57 clusters at 34 German universities have been funded. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) is responsible for implementing this funding line. Further information can be found on the DFG website.
  • With the Universities of Excellence funding line, universities and university consortia are institutionally strengthened in the long term and, on the basis of successful Clusters of Excellence, enabled to expand their leading international position in research. Ten universities and one university consortium have been funded since 2019. The Wissenschaftsrat (WR, German Science and Humanities Council) is responsible for implementing this funding line which consists of two separate procedures: the evaluation of the funded Universities of Excellence and the University Excellence Consortium as well as the call for proposals for applicant universities and university consortia.

Funding for Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence currently amounts to EUR 533 million per year. From 2026, the total budget will be increased to EUR 687 million per year.

A Committee of Experts has been appointed by the Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz (GWK, Joint Science Conference) of the German federal and state governments to put the funding programme into shape. Its 39 members are recognised in various fields of research while also having longstanding experience abroad, in university management, in teaching or in the private sector. They are jointly recommended by the DFG Senate and the Scientific Commission of the WR and appointed by the GWK. The list of members can be found on the GWK website.

The Excellence Commission decides on the funding of proposals in both funding lines. It consists of the members of the Committee of Experts and the federal and state ministers responsible for science and research.

The Excellence Strategy is based on an Administrative Agreement (Verwaltungsvereinbarung) between the German federal and state governments.

Information on the programme and all currently funded Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence can be found on the website.

Screenshot of the homepage exzellenzstrategy.de/en