The finalists have been named in the second round of the contest to determine what schools will be categorized as "elite" universities in Germany and receive additional millions in funding.
Berlin's Humboldt University made the cut
It was surely a nail-biter for many schools, especially since entering the winners' circle, and getting designated "elite" will mean enjoying a piece of the 1.9 billion euros ($2.45 billion) that are to be made available from 2007 to 2011.
Although 27 German universities applied, only eight had what it takes to possibly obtain "elite" status, according to a jury made up of the German Research Foundation and the governmental Scientific Commission.
The finalists include two institutes of higher education in Berlin, the Free University and the Humboldt University. The others are the RWTH Aachen University and the universities of Bochum, Freiburg, Göttingen, Heidelberg and Constance.
It is the second round of Germany's elite university selection. Three have already been chosen: Munich's Technical University, the Ludwig Maximilian University, also in Munich, and the Technical University in Karlsruhe.
Harvard on the Spree ?
The extra money for this new designated cream of the crop is intended to improve their quality, attract new research and researchers, and in the long-term, to put them on a par with top universities in other countries, such as Harvard and MIT in the United States or Oxford and Cambridge in Britain.
Joining the same league as Oxford is a goal of the program
The head of the Scientific Commission, Peter Strohschneider, told reporters at the announcement of the finalists that the jury was careful to select schools with different focuses.
"The spectrum ranges from smaller, more specialized universities to the large, general institutions," he said.
This time, more colleges with strengths in the humanities and social sciences were chosen than were in the first round.
Berlin officials were especially pleased that two of its schools made it to the finals.
"Finally the incredible research potential of Berlin's universities has been acknowledged," said Jürgen Zöllner, the man responsible for science issues in the Berlin city government.
The final decision on which of these eight will be crowned "elite" and infused with extra cash will be made in October.