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Excellence Strategy

The programme „Excellence Strategy“ was initiated by the Federal Government and the State Governments in joint responsibility and financing. It is designed to maintain and build on the new dynamism generated by the Excellence Initiative to strengthen universities by supporting research of the highest standard, enhancing research profiles and facilitating cooperation in the research system. The goal is to bolster Germany’s position as a research location in the long term, further increase its international competitiveness and continue the successful development of a research culture that supports high performance and quality across the board. This strengthening of the universities is also intended to support the universities in the enhancement of their research strategies and profiles, which may relate to all performance areas. At the same time, Excellence Initiative projects shall be provided with a long-term perspective.

The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) and the Wissenschaftsrat (WR, German Council of Science and Humanities) will jointly conduct the “Excellence Strategy”. The programme consists of two funding lines:

1 - Clusters of Excellence for project-based funding in internationally competitive research fields at universities or university consortia.

The decision on funding in the Clusters of Excellence funding line will be taken in September 2018. Each year, a total of approximately €385 million will be provided for this funding line.

The DFG is in charge of the Clusters of Excellence funding line. Further information are available on the DFG website.

2 - Universities of Excellence to strengthen universities as individual institutions or as university consortia in the long term and further develop their leading international role in research on the basis of successful Clusters of Excellence.

The decision on funding in the Universities of Excellence funding line will be taken in July 2019. Each year, a total of approximately €148 million will be provided for this funding line.

The WR is responsible for the Universities of Excellence funding line as well as the evaluation of the funded universities which is supposed to take place every seven years.

Current status of procedure

In its third meeting on September 27th - 28th 2017, the Committee of Experts for the Excellence Strategy took a first decision in the Clusters of Excellence funding line by giving 88 draft proposals the permission to enter the full proposal-phase. The respective press release as well as the total list of projects given permission to enter the full proposal-phase is to be found on the DFG website. By the cut-off deadline of 21 February 2018, 41 universities submitted 88 full proposals in the Clusters of Excellence funding line to the DFG.

By the same cut-off deadline of 21 February 2018, the WR head office received 26 letters of intent to submit a proposal in the Universities of Excellence funding line, thereof 24 letters of intent for a proposal as an individual university and two letters of intent for a proposal as a university consortium. Based on these letters of intent and subject to the decisions on funding in the Clusters of Excellence funding line in September 2018, the WR head office will get in touch with the applicant universities to prepare the on-site visits.

Further information

The programme “Excellence Strategy” is based on the “Adminstrative Agreement between the Federal Government and the State Governments in Accordance with Article 91b Paragraph 1 of the Basic Law on the Funding of Top-Level Research at Universities – Excellence Strategy (German version only) adopted by the Federal Chancellor and the prime-ministers on 16 June 2016.

As part of the programme implementation, a Committee of Experts for the Excellence Strategy was formed, consisting of 39 proven experts from various areas of science and the humanities with long-term experience at an international level, as well as with expertise in university management, in academic teaching or in the economy. The Committee’s members were proposed by the DFG Senate and the Scientific Commission of the WR; they were appointed by the Joint Science Conference (GWK). The list of members is available on the GWK website.

Graduate Schools, Clusters of Excellence and Institutional Strategies funded through the Excellence Initiative on the basis of the Excellence Agreement II may apply for bridge funding for a maximum of 24 months with funding to begin on 1 November 2017. For details visit the DFG website.

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