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On 13 September 2018, Minister Anja Karlicek presented her proposal for the 2019 budget in the ‘lower house’ of Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag. The budget will rise by 5.1% compared to 2018 and will have an overall volume of 17.62 billion Euro, for all sectors of education and research. Readers should know that the lion’s share of public spending on education and research is covered by the single states (Länder) of the German Federation, and by the municipalities.
The opposition of the reigning coalition, consisting of the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, the Left and the right-wing Allianz für Deuschland, was not amused. As is its role, the opposition felt that the budget and its volume was insufficient. The budget puts particular emphasis on ‘digitalisation’ and a ‘high-tech strategy’. Meanwhile, one of the ‘star projects’ of German higher education and research, the ‘excellence initiative’, is being continued. In the progamme strand for ‘clusters of excellence’, the selection committee has now decided to select 57 proposals out of original number of 195. The 57 clusters involve a total of 34 universities. About half of the clusters now selected had already benefitted from funding since 2012. The approved clusters are, according to a press release of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Wissenschaftsrat, “characterised by a high level of involvement of non-university partners and multidisciplinarity”.