German universities play a vital role in both the German and the international research world. They represent Germany in international science and research rankings. And rightfully so: each year, they invest (together with university hospitals and healthcare institutions) nearly 18 billion euros in research and development. More than 303,000 researchers and academics work at the 110 or so universities across the country. And each of the nearly 28,000 university professors raises on average 287,000 euros in third-party funding per year for research projects. At university medical faculties, third-party funding raised per professor even amounts to nearly 606,000 euros a year.
Revolutionary research successes
Time and again, they achieve revolutionary successes with their research. As happened for instance with the biopharma company BioNTech, which just a few years after being spun off from the university clinic of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz was able to use its expertise in the field of mRNA technology to develop a COVID-19 vaccine. This vaccine was the first mRNA-based drug to be approved for use on humans, and the most rapidly approved vaccine against a new pathogen in the history of medicine. The Mainz-based spin-off thereby made an unimaginably important contribution to combating the coronavirus pandemic.
A tradition of values
Such successes have their foundations not least in a long tradition of values that makes scientific quality possible in the first place: it is the unity of research and teaching and the guarantee of academic freedom that characterise universities in Germany and make them special. Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767–1835), the great scholar and reformer, reorganised the education system in Germany in the early nineteenth century and established a university according to his own ideas: today this is the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, which became the “mother of all modern universities” (Humboldt).
Universities of excellence
Incidentally, Humboldt-Universität is one of Germany’s top universities – together with Freie Universität Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and the Charité university hospital. Known as the Berlin University Alliance, this group of universities is one of the country’s universities of excellence along with ten other universities : they won this coveted title in a competition run within the framework of the government’s Excellence Strategy, and have since received a total of 148 million euros in federal and state funding to build upon their international leadership position in research . This interactive map of Germany shows which the universities of excellence are.
An international orientation is very important to Germany’s universities. The most obvious sign of this are the around 279,000 students from all over the world who are studying at German universities. Nearly 50,000 researchers and academics from abroad also teach and conduct research at the universities’ institutes.
German universities are involved in more than 11,000 collaborations with partner institutions from around the world. And nowadays degree courses with an international focus (2022: 1,400) or that are taught in English (roughly 1,200) are well established at German universities .
Facts & figures
- About 110 universities entitled to award doctorates
- More than 300,000 academic staff, including nearly 50,000 researchers and academics from abroad
- Nearly 1.8 million students, including around 279,000 students from all over the world
- More than 11,000 international collaborations
The German research landscape
2021, 86 pages
German inventions have changed people’s lives. At the same time, research and development are what keep a successful economy going. This brochure shows who is behind this: universities and research institutes, federal and state institutions and companies committed to research. Enjoy discovering the German research landscape!