Government claims success for elite universities drive

For a decade, Germany’s government has tried to explode the myth that all the country’s universities are equal. In 2006, it launched an 11-year, €4.6 billion (US$5.2 billion) programme that aimed to make the best German universities more competitive with the likes of Oxford, Cambridge and Harvard. The campaign, called the Excellence Initiative, led to 14 institutions gaining the common – although unofficial – label of ‘elite’, write Quirin Schiermeier and Richard van Noorden for

A 3 September report by Germany’s main research-funding agency, the DFG – which administers the initiative together with Germany's science council – suggests that the cash influx is paying off.

Still, a German equivalent of the US Ivy League may be slow to form. An analysis by Nature’s news team shows that some universities less favoured by the initiative have improved just as quickly as the elites when it comes to generating highly cited research. “It doesn’t require the ‘elite’ label to produce good research in Germany,” says Alfred Forchel, president of the University of Würzburg – an institution that has kept pace without massive top-up funds.
Full report on the Nature site