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Operation Campus, German version, French version

Evelyne Jardin

By Pierre Monnet,
Vice President of the Franco-German University

The French and German university systems, involved in building a true European space for research, are currently undergoing large-scale reforms practically simultaneously.

In France, this year research Minister Valérie Pécresse launched "Operation Campus." This project to promote university real estate on 10 different sites aims to support the establishment of a large, attractive higher education and research centers. After the "competitive clusters," this is the second major initiative for French research, with an overall budget of 5 billion euros.

In Germany's case, the federal government struck an agreement with the 16 länder (regions) to support university research by granting an additional allocation of 1.9 billion euros for the 2006-2011 period. This amount will be made available to German universities via 39 thematic doctoral schools and 37 excellence clusters. In the most prestigious category, 9 so-called universities of excellence each receive an annual grant of about 21 million euros. The 1.9 billion euros will primarily serve to train young researchers at the PhD and postdoctoral level, either through research grants or fixed-term contracts. The number of German PhDs will thus increase considerably. Germany, however, which doesn't have the equivalent of the French "grandes écoles", already awards 16,000 new doctoral degrees each year (excluding medical and health degrees), whereas in France about 10,000 theses are defended yearly.

It is to be hoped that on the French side, "Operation Campus" will result in a similar increase as well as the establishment of nine excellence clusters, via the rapprochement that will inevitably occur between universities and "grandes écoles."