Excellence Initiative streamlines German HE

Nieuws | de redactie
24 juli 2012 | A report from the Social Science Research Center Berlin criticizes that the German Excellence Initiative has not achieved its goal to enhance profiling of excellent universities. "Instead of fostering HE quality for students, many universities still focus too much on research," co-author Dagmar Simon states.

This year, eleven German universities were chosen to receive€2,7 billion in extra funding until 2017 as part of the “ExzellenzInitiative”. A report by the Social Science Research CenterBerlin criticizes that the program did not realize the expectedimpact. Instead of creating greater diversity and distinctprofiles, many universities would focus too much on research.

Press statement

The Excellence Initiative has not reached its goal: Universitieshave barely managed to sharpen their profiles and develop theirdistinguishing characteristics. A team led by WZB researcher DagmarSimon came to this conclusion. In the most recent WZBrief Bildung,the scholars explain that the political demands on and support ofthe process of developing institutional profiles does not lead tointentional differentiation, but rather to a structuralequalization of the universities.

Research over education

The researchers refer to existing qualities that were capable ofbeing built upon – for example knowledge transfer, creative courseofferings or the promotion of young scholars. The one-sidedconcentration on establishing interdisciplinary and interuniversityresearch corresponds to the usual reputation hierarchy in thesciences: Of all the university tasks, (basic) research is ofhighest priority for almost all professors. No university inGermany can get around that, if the formation of a profile is to bedriven forward.

The WZBrief Bildung is based on the study “Status andDevelopmental Perspectives of Research at Institutions of HigherEducation in Germany.” Administrators from 14 representative,select universities were questioned in interviews. Furthermore,almost 2,500 professors responded to a questionnaire. WZB projectpartners were the Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, theFraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung, theStifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and Joanneum ResearchGmbH in Vienna.

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