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“A new chapter in the history of science” was being written, according to German Minister for Education Anette Schavan, when the winners of the German government’s Excellence Initiative were announced on October 19. Six universities will now join the 3 'elite' higher education institutions that had been selected last year and benefit from additional funding in the immediate future. Even though the regional spread was more balanced in the pre-selections of the second round, the results display a heavy concentration on southern German universities.
The Excellence Initiative strives to improve the standard of German higher education institutions by means of three different funding lines, i.e. 1) postgraduate schools for young scientists, 2) clusters of excellence between universities and science organisations, as well as 3) future concepts for top-class research at universities. The latter defines the informal designation as 'elite' institution. The programme has a total budget of 1.9 billion Euro over a five-year period, 873 million Euro of which had already been awarded in the first round.
The outcomes raised the same criticism as last year when the first 3 winners had been announced: the 'elite' is still concentrated in the South of Germany. But Christian Bode (DAAD Secretary General and ACA Vice-President) and Rolf Hoffmann (Fulbright) also questioned the selection criteria applied, which do not include quality of teaching. They believe that “universities consist of both research and teaching” and that “there can be no excellence without good teaching”.
For background information see ACA Newsletter – Education Europe January 2007 and October 2006