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Monitoring of the German “Excellence Initiative”

The Excellence Initiative is a jointly funded program of the German federal and state governments. In the first funding period, a total of 1.9 Billion Euros was provided between 2006 and 2012 to strengthen the international competitiveness and to increase the visibility of German universities. During the second funding period between 2012 and 2017, another 2.7 Billion Euros will be provided. The program is structured across three different funding activities:

  1. Graduate schools to promote young scientists at the doctoral level.
  2. Clusters of Excellence to promote interdisciplinary research projects.
  3. Institutional strategies – known as Zukunftskonzepte – to develop top-level university research and increase its competitiveness at an international level.

Due to its overall goal of restructuring the German university landscape and enhancing the competitiveness of the entire system, the Excellence Initiative represents a new and far-reaching policy shift for German funding priorities.
The German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft – DFG) was commissioned to implement the program. In order to analyze the structural effects of the Excellence Initiative and its acceptance among researchers the DFG has asked the iFQ for monitoring the Graduate Schools and Clusters of Exzellence during the first funding period (2006/2007–2012). The monitoring estimated both the intended and unintended effects of the program on the basis of quantitative and qualitative empirical data.

First results of the Project were published in 2008 in iFQ-Working Paper No.5 (in German only). Further publications are dedicated to the analysis of special aspects such as the success of recruiting policies and alternative strategies to carry out research projects that are not funded by the Excellence Initiative. In 2012 the iFQ-Working Paper No.11 was published which is focusing the peer review process of the Graduate School and Cluster of Excellence proposals for the second funding period (2012–2017). The project publications are listed on the German website of the monitoring project.

For additional information on the Excellence Initiative please take a look the websites of DFG and Wissenschaftsrat.

Duration: January 2007 – November 2012
Co-operation partners: German Research Foundation (DFG), uzBonn (University Bonn),
WZB Berlin
Funding: German Research Foundation (DFG)
Contact person: Dr. Torger Möller