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Information on the Competition

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On 16 June 2016, Germany’s federal and state governments adopted a program for funding top-level research at universities, the “Excellence Strategy,” acting on a proposal made by the Joint Science Conference (GWK). The purpose of the new program is to continue the successful development of German universities begun by the Excellence Initiative with the goal of consolidating Germany’s position as a center for research in the long term and enhancing its international visibility and competitiveness. In contrast to the Excellence Initiative, the Excellence Strategy is designed to be permanent, giving successful projects a long-term perspective.

The program will have an overall budget of 533 million euros. 75% of the funding will be provided by the federal government, the other 25% by the home state of the universities selected for funding.

The program consists of the two funding lines Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence. The German Research Foundation is responsible for the selection procedure in the Cluster of Excellence line, the German Council of Science and Humanities for that in the Universities of Excellence line. The Graduate Schools funding line from the last two rounds of the Excellence Initiative will be discontinued in the Excellence Strategy.

Universities or university consortia consisting of two to three universities are eligible to submit proposals in both lines of funding. The selection procedure for the two funding lines will be staggered. Only universities that have previously received approval for at least two Clusters of Excellence will be eligible to submit a proposal for the Universities of Excellence line. In the case of university consortia, the amount of necessary Clusters of Excellence increases to three.

Proposals will be evaluated solely on the basis of scientific criteria, taking into account both previous outstanding achievements and convincing prospects for the development of international top-level research.

The two main decision-making bodies for the program are the Committee of Experts and the Excellence Commission. The Committee of Experts is composed of 39 proven international researchers who also have many years of experience abroad in higher education management, in teaching, or in trade and industry. It lays down the conditions for funding, assumes responsibility for selecting the draft proposals for the Clusters of Excellence funding line, and makes final recommendations for funding in both lines on the basis of the expert reports.

The Excellence Commission is composed of the members of the Committee of Experts and the ministers of science and research of the federal and state governments. The Excellence Commission selects the Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence for funding on the basis of the recommendations made by the Committee of Experts.

 

Schedule for the Excellence Strategy

3 April 2017     Submission deadline for draft proposals for Clusters of Excellence
28 September 2017 Decision on draft proposals for Clusters of Excellence, followed by invitation to submit full proposals
21 February 2018 Submission of full proposals for Clusters of Excellence
27 September 2018 Funding decision on full proposals for Clusters of Excellence
10 December 2018                         Submission of proposals for Universities of Excellence
1 January 2019 Commencement of funding for Clusters of Excellence
19 July 2019 Funding decision on proposals for Universities of Excellence
1 November 2019 Commencement of funding for Universities of Excellence