While the U.S. has long cornered the market on Ivy League institutions, it may not maintain exclusive bragging rights for long due to an ongoing program in Germany aimed at supporting educational excellence toward positioning Germany’s universities higher in world rankings. Let’s take a closer look at the initiative, along with its projected impact on higher education in Germany.


Aiming for Excellence
The Excellence Initiative debuted in 2006 with the goal of propelling Germany’s largely underfunded universities to world-class status. To date, the government has provided €4.6 billion to the country’s public universities in support of three main areas: graduate schools, research, and “future concepts.”

While German universities have not yet penetrated the top 50, the program was still declared to have had a “very positive” impact on higher education in Germany, according to the findings of an international commission released earlier this year.


The Next Chapter
Government officials recently announced plans to indefinitely continue the program, through which Germany’s leading universities will receive additional funding of at least €10 million a year. Research and Education Minister Johanna Wanka said in a press conference, “We are opening a new chapter in the development of higher education in Germany.”

The extended Excellence Initiative II -- which will take effect in 2019 -- has been redesigned to comprise two categories of funding: Excellence Clusters, through which research collaborators will be eligible for between €3 million and €10 million annually with host universities receiving €1 million; and Excellence Universities, through which universities hosting at least two Excellence Clusters will become eligible for an additional €10 million to €15 million in annual funding.

And while the retooled program still requires final approval from German leaders, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, it already has the support of the international commission tasked with evaluating the original program and is expected to pass.