Bavaria steps up its bid to become home of Harvard-style elite universities

March 26, 2004

Bavaria has boosted its bid to become Germany's "elite" university state after Edmund Stoiber, the regional prime minister, unveiled a set of courses to rival Harvard University.

Ten elite courses and five postgraduate colleges will be established within existing universities and will offer places for 300 students from autumn 2004.

Mr Stoiber said that the elite courses were the beginning of a new style of education, not only in Bavaria but in Germany, and would help the state compete at an international level.

German education ministers have recently debated turning a number of universities into institutions that will follow the format of Oxbridge or Ivy League colleges. But rather than concentrating on the development of just one or two universities, Bavarian ministers want each university to be able to offer first-class courses to the best national and international students, alongside what is currently available.

Nine of the state's 11 universities will initially take part in the project, with only Passau and Bamberg universities not involved. It is expected that they will also join later.

"Everyone should take part," Mr Stoiber said. He added that by the end of 2005 about 20 such courses would be running, with up to 2,000 places available.

The courses will differ from standard programmes at the universities, not only in the class of student but also the speed and level at which the subject is taught. Students will be expected to complete the courses in less time while delving further into the subject.

The project will also promote cooperation between universities as well as providing greater links with German business.

About €14 million (£9.4 million) is being pumped into the campaign, which will see the creation of more than 220 jobs.

A special commission of international researchers and professors was set up to select 15 courses from 104 proposals. Of the 15 subjects chosen, science subjects account for the majority. These include applied maths, physics, macromolecular science and advanced materials science.

Susanne Zanker, Bavarian education ministry spokeswoman, said: "This is partly down to the fact that Bavaria has a history of outstanding research in the sciences. But those courses chosen also fitted the criteria the commission was looking for.

"Next time, it could just as easily be the engineering sector that gains the majority."

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