Our partner institute University of Bonn is named “University of Excellence”!

· by Ezgi Bulca

The University of Bonn is among 11 universities that got selected to receive permanent institutional funding as well as the sought-after title as universities of excellence.

On 19 July 2019, the Excellence Commission has taken the much-awaited decisions in the first call of the funding line “Universities of Excellence” of the German Excellence Strategy. Out of 19 applications, ten universities and one university consortium of Excellence were selected to receive permanent institutional funding as well as the sought-after title as universities of excellence.

Selected were (in alphabetical order):

The selected 10 universities and one university consortium will together receive a total annual funding in the amount of 148 Mio. Euro (from 1 November 2019 onwards).

Map of Approved Universities of Excellence and Clusters of Excellence

The prerequisites

Eligible for competing for the title as universities of excellence were universities that in September 2018 secured at least two Clusters of Excellence (or at least three Clusters of Excellence in the case of university consortia) in the German Research Foundation (DFG)-administered funding line “Clusters of Excellence”. 17 universities and two university consortia from eight federal states managed to meet this formal prerequisite for submitting an application in the funding line “Universities of Excellence”.

Subsequently, the DFG handed over to the the German Council of Science and Humanities  who is responsible for administering the funding line “Universities of Excellence”. On-site visits at the 19 applicant universities and university consortia took place from January to May 2019. In total, 190 reviewers (more than 90 % from abroad) participated in the evaluation process that was specifically designed to assess universities as a whole, in particular the past and current performance in research as well as in teaching, transfer, and research infrastructure. Additionally, universities and university consortia had to present convincing plans for the continued development of the institution as a whole.

The selection procedure

Meeting from 16 to 18 July 2019, the so-called Committee of Experts (consisting of 39 internationally recognized scholars) comparatively assessed the results of the 19 individual evaluations. Based on the funding recommendations made by the Committee of Experts, the final funding decisions were then taken by the Excellence Commission on 19 July 2019. The Excellence Commission consists of the members of the Committee of Experts as well as the ministers responsible for higher education and research of the federal government and the 16 federal states. Positive funding decisions required the majority of votes of the members of the Committee of Experts as well as at least 25 votes from the federal government and the federal states.

The future of the Excellence Strategy

The funding provided through the funding line “Universities of Excellence” is, in principle, permanent. However, the administrative agreement underpinning the Excellence Strategy contains two additional provisions. First, the selected universities need to again secure the required minimum number of Clusters of Excellence in the next call (in seven years) in order to continue to meet the formal funding prerequisites. Second, the selected universities of excellence will be regularly evaluated every seven years and continuously funded if the evaluation result is positive. Moreover, when successful in the highly competitive and academically-driven procedure, four additional universities or university consortia could be funded from 2026 onwards in the second call for universities of excellence. In the funding line “Clusters of Excellence”, the 57 Clusters of Excellence (located at 34 universities) that were selected in September 2018 are already receiving funding since 1 January 2019.

The Excellence Strategy is a permanent funding program aimed at strengthening top-level research at German universities as well as encouraging the development of distinct university profiles and enhancing cooperation within the German system of research and higher education. The federal government and the 16 federal states are providing an annual total budget of 533 Mio. Euro. 75 % of the funding is provided by the federal government and 25 % by the respective state governments.

For more information: https://www.dfg.de/en/service/press/press_releases/2019/press_release_no_34/index.html