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Cultural Change as an Institutional Strategy

The University of Freiburg sets its sights on the future following the decision in the “Universities of Excellence” funding line

Freiburg, Jul 19, 2019

Cultural Change as an Institutional Strategy

Photo: Sandra Meyndt

The University of Freiburg has ranked among the top ten German universities for years in all important rankings, yet its proposal in the “Universities of Excellence” funding line of the Excellence Strategy was not approved for funding. “We are very disappointed about this decision, particularly in view of the fact that our performance data tell a different story,” says Rector Prof. Dr. Hans-Jochen Schiewer. “We’re on the right track with our institutional strategy on the theme ‘Connecting Creative Minds – Trinational, European, Global,’ which more than 1000 people from all of the university’s status groups contributed to developing with great dedication,” emphasizes Schiewer. “We will continue to put our collective effort into establishing a new university culture marked by courage and creative impulses beyond classical hierarchies. We are determined to persist in our endeavor to develop an internationally recognized and attractive European university, thus further improving our prospects for success with new, strong proposals in future competitions for funding at the national and European levels.”

With the help of the so-called university allowance from the “Clusters of Excellence” funding line, we intend to implement individual measures from our Excellence proposal: With “Saltus!,” we will create a new funding format at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS) and at the future Freiburg Innovation Center (FRIZ) for promoting high-risk and promising fundamental research projects as well as startup initiatives. The program “Co-Creation” will encourage the dialogue between various status groups: Students researchers, and members of administrative, service, and technical staff will receive the possibility to form small teams with the necessary expertise to solve concrete problems, thus providing the university with fresh impetus. Furthermore, the University of Freiburg and its partners will continue developing their cross-border research collaboration in the trinational Upper Rhine region. The success of the consortium “European Partnership for an Innovative Campus Unifying Regions” (EPICUR), which was approved in June 2019 in the European Union’s European Universities Initiative and in which the University of Freiburg is participating, exemplifies the potential of this involvement at the European level.

To become a “University of Excellence” at a later date, the University of Freiburg must have at least two Clusters of Excellence. In Freiburg, the funding for the current clusters CIBSS – Centre for Integrative Biological Signalling Studies and livMatS – Living, Adaptive, and Energy-autonomous Materials Systems is assured until the end of 2025. In coming competitions, the university aims to apply for an extension in funding for these two research clusters and to apply for funding for new clusters in particularly strong university profile areas in order to continue to meet the requirements for attaining the status of a University of Excellence in the future.

Statement by Martin Horn, Mayor of the City of Freiburg

"That's a real pity for the more than 1000 people who worked toward this goal with vigor and dedication. The competition in the field of applicants, including six from Baden-Württemberg, was extremely tight. The decision was a matter of details. In spite of the disappointment, the decision must serve as a incentive for our University of Freiburg to continue resolutely on its path. Freiburg has an excellent university. And it will rise to the challenge of earning the title of University of Excellence in the future."