Germany's three best, most promising universities are all located in the country's south, a panel of experts has determined. The winners are ensured millions in state funds for years. The losers may face a bleak future.
Will the money turn Munich's university into a fountain of scientific excellence?
German Research and Education Minister Annette Schavan announced Friday that Munich's Ludwig-Maximilian University, Munich's Technical University (TU) and the University of Karlsruhe had been named Germany's first "elite universities."
The three institutions are the biggest winners in Germany's "excellence initiative," which was established to improve the country's chronically under-funded colleges -- and its reputation abroad -- by encouraging high level research and competition. The trio will receive around 120 million euros ($150 million) each in federal and state funds over the next five years.
"So far, no German university has made it into the top 50 worldwide, but if we carry out our concept for the future, after five years we could be among the first 25," TU president Wolfgang A. Herrmann told Handelsblatt online portal.
In total, 22 projects from universities, mainly in Germany's richest states, were singled out to receive a portion of the 1.9 billion euros earmarked for the initiative between 2007 and 2011. The money will be distributed in three areas: for graduate schools that showed they knew how to promote new talent; for "research clusters" that demonstrated they were centers of excellence in particular fields; and finally for three top institutions that encompassed all of the previous qualities as well as presenting a dazzling vision of a future of educational excellence.
Germany hopes to resurrect its image as a research leader
Bavaria, of which Munich is the capital, and Baden-Württemberg, where Karlsruhe is located, cleaned up in the competition, with eight of the 18 successful graduate schools and another eight of the 17 recognized research clusters, which are meant to be developed into a small number of internationally recognized research institutes.
Universities in the country's north and east went largely unacknowledged in the expert panel's decisions, causing some to predict they could end up as even bigger losers in the future as ever more funding goes to institutions in the south and west, already among the country's wealthiest regions.