millions of euros of funding

Bonn University is "University of Excellence"

Bonn. The Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn is officially a “University of Excellence”. This was declared by the German Research Foundation and the Science Council at a joint press conference in Bonn this Friday.

The University of Bonn has made it: it is now officially a "University of Excellence". This was declared by Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek (CDU) on Friday afternoon at a press conference organised by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Science Council at the Science Centre Bonn.

This was preceded by the concluding consultation of the Excellence Commission, which is supported by both institutions. This consists of the federal and state research ministers and 39 experts and decides on the allocation of funding from the “Excellence Strategy” for research funding launched by the federal and state governments in 2016. The university shares the title with nine other German universities and one association of universities; they will all receive funding of ten to 15 million euros per year over the next seven years, starting on 1 November.

Seventeen universities and two university associations (from Berlin and Hanover) had entered the running for the coveted title. The Alma mater in Bonn had a great advantage right from the start: only universities who had applied for at least two “clusters of excellence” in the first round of funding last year, i.e. funding for specific top-level research projects, were allowed to apply. The University of Bonn had not only achieved this twice, but six times – more often than any other German university.

The Lecture Hall Centre on the Poppelsdorf campus was a scene of great joy, with hundreds of university members following the press conference via live stream. “Today is a milestone in the 200-year history of our university”, said university rector Professor Michael Hoch.

"Our efforts have been fruitful, and the performance of our university has been convincing in the face of tough competition. This is a huge success and a major step towards our goal of establishing Bonn as one of the best universities in Germany and Europe in the long term".

The new title is “recognition and commitment at the same time”, Hoch continued. “In particular, in addition to curiosity-driven basic research in disciplines, we would also like to promote transdisciplinary cooperation across faculty and subject boundaries and further expand our scientific networks throughout the world. Equal opportunities, diversity, sustainability and family-friendly study and working conditions are also central concerns for us, by which we also want to be measured”.

Another winner from North Rhine-Westphalia is the Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen (RWTH). The Ruhr-Universität Bochum, the University of Cologne and the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster also applied from North Rhine-Westphalia, but they came away empty-handed.

State Minister Armin Laschet congratulated both winners. “After Bonn and Aachen had already spectacularly demonstrated their impressive research strength with the acquisition of their clusters of excellence, they were now also able to convince with their overall strategic concept”. These two successes “prove once again the high quality of science and research in our state”: NRW is “excellently positioned as a state of science and research”.

Sridharan: "The City of Bonn will also benefit"

State Science Minister Isabel Pfeiffer-Poensgen added: “Aachen and Bonn have asserted themselves in a strong competitive environment. Their success demonstrates how powerful North Rhine-Westphalia is as a location for science and research”.

Anja Karliczek also thanked the seven universities and the research association, which did not receive the title. “We assume that the entire scientific landscape will be driven forward by the Excellence Initiative. We can expect outstanding research results in the coming years, which will also extend beyond Germany. Your excellence has been demonstrated by all those who took part – including those who are not now being funded."

The number of congratulators rapidly rose. Congratulations came from Professor Hartmut Ihne (President of the Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences), the CDU Bonn, the Jülich Research Centre, Professor Margret Wintermantel (President of the German Academic Exchange Service) and the Bonn Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

The Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan said: “The funding approval as a University of Excellence will not only benefit the university, but also the city. The status of a University of Excellence enables the university to expand its international position and to better recruit international researchers. This will make a significant contribution to strengthening Bonn as an international city and to expanding science in the region. The city will support the university in all its activities”.


Ten German universities and one university network now bear the title "University of Excellence" or “Excellence Network”:

  • Rhenish-Westphalian Technical University Aachen
  • Berlin University Association (Free University, Humboldt University, Technical University)
  • Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn
  • Technical University of Dresden
  • University of Hamburg
  • Ruprecht-Karls-University Heidelberg
  • Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
  • University of Constance
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich
  • Technical University of Munich
  • Eberhard Karls University Tübingen


(Original text: Wolfgang Pichler, translation John Chandler)