Press release

Excellence Initiative fails to produce diversity

In competition German universities become equal

The Excellence Initiative has not reached its goal: Universities have barely managed to sharpen their profiles and develop their distinguishing characteristics. A team led by WZB researcher Dagmar Simon came to this conclusion. In the most recent WZBrief Bildung, the scholars explain that the political demands on and support of the process of developing institutional profiles does not lead to intentional differentiation, but rather to a structural equalization of the universities.

The researchers refer to existing qualities that were capable of being built upon - for example knowledge transfer, creative course offerings or the promotion of young scholars. The one-sided concentration on establishing interdisciplinary and interuniversity research corresponds to the usual reputation hierarchy in the sciences: Of all the university tasks, (basic) research is of highest priority for almost all professors. No university in Germany can get around that, if the formation of a profile is to be driven forward.

The WZBrief Bildung is based on the study “Status and Developmental Perspectives of Research at Institutions of Higher Education in Germany.” Administrators from 14 representative, select universities were questioned in interviews. Furthermore, almost 2,500 professors responded to a questionnaire. WZB project partners were the Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung, the Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung, the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and Joanneum Research GmbH in Vienna.

To the WZBrief Bildung (only in German):
Angleichung statt Vielfalt. Deutsche Universitäten auf der Suche nach Profil (PDF)