EUROPE. For the first time, the German research association DFG has published a league table showing rankings based on its research funding allocations between 1991 and 1995.
The most surprising result was that just 20 universities shared 60 per cent of the DM7.2 billion (Pounds 2.5 billion) allocated in the five-year period by the DFG, the largest single provider of university research in Germany.
And 90 per cent of the DFG funds were shared by academics at 45 universities, representing just half of all Germany's universities.
Christoph Schneider, head of the division of research grants, said: "Funding of research projects by the DFG is a real performance indicator." DFG grants are awarded by independent panels of experts according to strict scientific criteria.
Since larger universities can be expected to win a bigger share of research funds, a clearer picture of individual universities' research quality and achievement emerges from the league tables' calculation of how much universities received per professorial post, he said. In terms of funding per professorial post, a smaller university topped the league.
And when the DFG divided its funding allocations into four scientific areas - engineering, humanities and social science; biology and medicine; natural sciences and maths - it emerged that there is no single "best university" in Germany, but a number of leaders in various disciplines.
The universities themselves urged the DFG to publish its first research league tables after 10 universities last year proclaimed themselves Germany's research top 10 and went on to receive the lion's share.
Mr Schneider said: "The universities are clearly feeling more pressure of competition among themselves.
"But it was the conference of university rectors which finally urged us to publish league tables to establish more information and transparency."