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Germany: Second round of the Excellence Initiative

The Excellence Initiative in Germany, co-organised by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and the German Science Council and intended to make German higher education “world-class”, announced in January the results of the preselections in the second round. Ninety-two out of the 305 proposals have been approved, from a total of 35 German Universities.

For the first two funding lines, graduate schools and clusters of excellence, 44 and 40 projects have made it to the final selection. Successful proposals for both of these two lines had to meet strict criteria for quality, interdisciplinarity, international prominence, and had to integrate regional research capacity, including non-university research institutions. In the third funding line, institutional strategies to promote top-level research, 8 projects made it to the ‘finals’. On top of meeting the above-mentioned criteria, successful applications had to comply with the criterion of ‘international competitiveness’. The results of the first round of the Excellence Initiative had been criticised by some for a heavy concentration on southern German universities. In the preselections of this second round, the regional spread is more balanced.

The successful applicants of all three lines have now been invited to submit full proposals by 13 April 2007. The final funding decisions are scheduled for 19 October 2007. The Excellence Initiative has a total budget of 1.9 billion Euros over a five-year period. It is tailored to finance approximately 40 universities (with about 1 million Euros for each per year), 30 clusters of excellence (some 6.5 million Euros annually per cluster), and institutional strategies, the number of which has not been decided yet. In the first round, a total of 873 million Euros was awarded to 18 graduate schools, 17 clusters of excellence, and 3 strategies. The rest of the budget will be spent in for the second round. Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft