Excellence Strategy of the Federal and the State Governments

The Excellence Strategy agreed on by the federal and the state governments will be continuing the funding of top-class research at universities over and above the Excellence Initiative (2005-2017). The aim is for German universities to become even better in international competition and achieve first-class academic results.

The Excellence Strategy comprises two funding lines:

  • Clusters of Excellence
    In the Clusters of Excellence, individual projects are funded in internationally competitive fields of research at universities or by university consortia. The duration is for two periods of seven years; new applications can be made. The German Research Foundation (DFG) is responsible for developing and implementing this funding line.
  • Universities of Excellence
    This funding line serves to strengthen universities, either as individual institutions or as university consortia. Long-term funding is provided for strengthening a leading position in international research on the basis of successful Clusters of Excellence. A condition for any funding for a University of Excellence is therefore approval for at least two Clusters of Excellence at the same university (at least three Clusters in the case of university consortia). Universities of Excellence are subjected to evaluation every seven years. The German Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat) is responsible for developing and implementing this funding line

Scope of funding

A total of 533 million euros is available annually for the overall programme:

  • Clusters of Excellence funding line: around 385 million euros per year
  • Universities of Excellence funding line: around 148 million euros per year

The funding is provided by the federal government (75%) and the respective home state government (25%). The Excellence Strategy was established to run for an indefinite period of time.

Timetable till 2019

End of September 2016 Calls for applications for funding lines for Clusters of Excellence and Universities of Excellence
1 November 2016 Deadline for submissions for applications for interim financing for current Institutions of Excellence in all three funding lines (Clusters of Excellence, Graduate Schools, Strategies for the Future)
1 December 2016 Deadline for submissions of letters of intent on the planned submission of draft proposals for Clusters of Excellence 
3 April 2017 Deadline for draft proposals for Clusters of Excellence
End of April 2017 Publication of further application documents relating to Universities of Excellence
from mid-May 2017 Publication of further application documents relating to Clusters of Excellence
May – July 2017 Appraisal of draft proposals relating to Clusters of Excellence
29 September 2017 Decision on draft proposals relating to Clusters of Excellence, followed by invitations to submit applications
Early October 2017 Publication of further application documents relating to the funding line for Universities of Excellence (application template)
21 February 2018 Submission of applications for Clusters of Excellence
Submissions of letters of intent on the planned submission of individual applications or applications from consortia relating to Universities of Excellence
April - July 2018 Appraisal of applications relating to Clusters of Excellence
27 September 2018 Decision on funding for applications relating to Clusters of Excellence
10 December 2018 Submission of applications relating to Universities of Excellence
January - April 2019 Appraisal of applications relating to Universities of Excellence
1 January 2019 Commencement of funding for Clusters of Excellence
19 July 2019 Decision on funding for applications relating to Universities of Excellence
1 November 2019 Commencement of funding for Universities of Excellence