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A “rising light”? Funds for “German Ivy League” finally approved

The 24 June 2005 was “a good day for German Science” according to the German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (, who proudly said to: “have paved the way for leading lights in science to rise in Germany and shine internationally.”

After one and a half years of disputes between the Federal Government and the Federal States, Germany has finally approved 1.9 billion Euro in additional funds for university research, for a period between 2006 and 2010. The programme will have three pillars: graduate schools, excellence clusters and “future-oriented concepts for the promotion of university-based top research”:

  • About one million Euro per year will go to each of 40 graduate schools to be established under the programme.
  • About 6.5 million Euros per year will go into 30 top-quality research centres in various disciplines.
  • Ten universities which are already running a graduate school and an “excellence cluster” and can present outstanding research projects will be singled out and supported with an additional 13.5 million Euros. 

The third action line with its concept of federal-funded “elite universities” was the stumbling block in the long discussions between the federal and state governments, as the state governments feared for their authority over higher education. The text now makes clear that only outstanding research projects and faculties will be supported.

According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, the main reason for the final agreement of all Federal States was not due to a substantially changed programme, but to the fear of not receiving any additional research funds if September’s anticipated elections result in a government change.  

Unispiegel - Elite Unis: Der weg ist frei
Deutsche Welle - Paving the way for academic excellence
Deutsche Welle - Germany To Spend €1.9 Billion To Develop Elite Universities
Süddeutsche Zeitung - Suche nach Anschluss: Ein Milliarden-Programm soll die deutsche Wissenschaft wieder nach vorne bringen