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Public Research

Germany has in recent years begun to introduce measures towards commodification; non-generic public as well as non-public funding (Drittmittel) for research in public institutions have gained in importance and are increasingly provided competitively. Generic funding has begun to be allocated partly on the on the basis of competitive, performance based elements (leistungsorientierte Mittelverteilung). Drittmittel accumulation also became an important indicator of the accomplishments and quality of research organisations, especially HEIs, and thus started to play a role in the performance based elements of generic funding allocation.[1]

The Governmental Structure

As, according to Article 20(1) of the German constitution (Grundgesetz, GG), Germany is a federal republic with 16 federal states (Lander), competences are divided between the different levels of government. As regards research, a concurrent legislative competence[2] exists regarding ‘the regulation of educational and training grants and the promotion of research’ (Article 74(1) no.

13 GG) ‘if and to the extent that the establishment of equivalent living conditions throughout the federal territory or the maintenance of legal or economic unity renders federal regulation necessary in the national interest’ (Article 72(2) GG). All remaining research competences, in particular competences for HEIs, lie with the Lander. According to Article 91b(1) GG the federal level (Bund) and the Lander can, however, cooperate in cases of ‘supraregional importance’ on the basis of agreements in respect of financing science, research and education. Agreements which mainly concern HEIs need to be agreed to by all Lander, unless they are agreements on the construction of research facilities, including large scientific installations.

At the federal level, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium fur Bildung und Forschung, BMBF) is mainly responsible for research, contributing the vast majority of the federal research budget. Aside from BMBF, mainly the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium fur Wirtschaft und Technology) and the Federal Ministry of Defence (Bundesministerium fur Verteidigung) play a role in research policy, but other ministries also may be involved and provide some funding.[3] Overall the Bund contributes about 60 % of all public funding with the Lander contributing the remainder. Bund and Lander are coordinating their activities in the Joint Science Conference (Gemeinsame Wissenschaftskonferenz) and are advised by the Council of Science and Humanities (Wissenschaftsrat). Additionally, there have been a number of ad hoc advisory bodies. Common endeavours of the Bund and the Lander include, in particular, the financing of the German research foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and of the four major non-HEI public research organisations; Helmholts-Gemeinschaft, Leibniz-Gemeinschaft, Frauenhofer-Gesellschaft and Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. Except for the possibility of cooperation as provided for in Article 91b GG, the Lander are responsible for HEI finances and governance. They voluntarily coordinate their activities in the education minister conference (Kultusministerkonferenz) which the federal government may attend as a guest. According to the HEI Pact (Hochschulpakt) the Lander are to receive federal contributions to their HEI expenditure and the federal government will increase its own competitive funding for HEIs.[4]

The DFG is an intermediary body whose main task is the promotion of research in HEIs and other public research organisations in all areas of ‘knowledge- oriented’ (erkenntnisorientiert) research. It, however, also promotes the inter-play between research and users (e.g. industry) and conducts related activities. The DFG provides competitive project-related and institutional research funding. The latter has gained in importance over recent years. Furthermore, the DFG advises parliaments, governments and public bodies on academic questions. It is financed by the Bund and the Lander at rate of about 60-40 %.[5]

  • [1] See Edler and Kuhlmann 2008, p. 265 seq; Hinze 2010, pp. 162, 167, 171. See also Albrecht2009, p. 9 seq who provides a critical perspective of the recent developments. For an overview ofpolicies in various federal states see BMBF 2016 supplement 3.
  • [2] Article 74 GG enumerates areas of concurrent competence. In these areas the Lander havecompetence as long and far as the federal level has not enacted any legislation.
  • [3] On the federal level see Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 62 seq; Edler and Kuhlmann 2008, p. 265seq; Hinze 2010, p. 162 seq, 171; BMBF 2016, p. 60 seq.
  • [4] On the interplay between Bund and the Lander see Edler and Kuhlmann 2008, pp. 267, 269,271 seq; Hinze 2010, p. 163 seq; BMBF 2016, p, 61 seq, 249 seq as well as p. 15 of supplement 1.
  • [5] See Wissenschaftsrat 2007, p. 65 seq; Edler and Kuhlmann 2008, p. 267; Hinze 2010,p. 168 seq, 172; BMBF 2016, p. 54 seq, 76, DFG (2016) DFG im Profil—Aufgaben (Englishtranslation: DFG profile—Tasks). http://www.dfg.de/dfg_profil/aufgaben/index.html. Accessed13 August 2016.
 
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