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Wiarda want to know : The excellence of lack the spirit


The German research Foundation (DFG) has released exciting Figures on the excellence strategy of the Federal government and the länder. 27 pages of statistics, which, among other things, how much Euro the universities in consortia, in their first draft proposals for possible Research, the so-called Cluster, a total of just under 1.5 billion) requested (. And how much money the Federal government and Länder at the end of the successful 57 Cluster: 365 million have been approved.
You can see that most of the Cluster-the applicant wanted to have the possible maximum of the sum (8.5 to tens of millions of euros per year), and that the modesty of the few Unis that wanted to settle for smaller sums (up to 6.5 million euros per year), paid on the first glance: The most expensive Cluster applications, also the most successful.

inter-disciplinarity is a favorite word

it is Striking how drastically sometimes, political programmes and scientific reality are worlds apart. "Interdisciplinarity" is since many years one of the favorite words in the Speeches of many politicians and research managers. In 2010, the then President of Freie Universität, Peter André said-Old, in the süddeutsche Zeitung: "those Who expose themselves to the suspicion, alone, to the advancement of their discipline to contribute, is considered to be little innovative and runs the risk that his application will fail." An interdisciplinary approach is "the condition for the success of third-party funds and European projects".
In the case of the decisions in the strategy of Excellence, in September 2018, however, those Cluster applications successful, which originated from only one of the four from the DFG under various science areas, namely the Humanities and social Sciences, the natural, life or engineering Sciences. The difference is not dramatic, but clearly that applications from only one field of science accounted for 47 percent of the projects, but 53 percent of the permits.

An honest inventory

Now, interdisciplinarity is a dazzling notion, and without a doubt, the collaboration between, for example, two Humanities subjects can be considered as interdisciplinary. However, experts just keep those interdisciplinary research projects have been particularly productive, connect more distant disciplines. Particularly productive, but it is – and the fact the DFG's point-and-Figures – at the same time is particularly risky.
The Cluster decisions were also reality, therefore an honest stock-taking of the German Funding, as the Humanities and social Sciences started with a fifth of the requests, but with only 15 percent of the permits went home. The engineering Sciences also had to let the springs, while the natural Sciences were able to make 28 percent of the applications for 37 percent of the permits. Which means that on the second glance it is clear why the high-price applications were on the whole the more successful.
At the end of a praise for the DFG. She has made the ExStra stats (and also an equally exciting survey of the ExStra-experts), without the need for it in this detail. With their openness has been the debate about the present and future of the strategy for Excellence is a valuable service.
The author is a Journalist of education and lives in Berlin. On his Blog www.jmwiarda.de he commented on current events in schools and colleges.

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