Rhine-Main Universities to join forces for upcoming Excellence Strategy competition

Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

RMU alliance will further extend its strategic collaboration

The Rhine-Main University (RMU) alliance will prepare a joint application for the next round of the Excellence Strategy competition of the German federal and state governments. Established almost six years ago, the alliance can point to successful cooperation in research, learning, teaching as well as continuing education and is now looking to further extend its strategic collaboration. The strategic alliance of the Rhine-Main Universities (RMU), formed by the Technical University of Darmstadt, Goethe University Frankfurt, and Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in late 2015, is well prepared to take part in the next round of the German Excellence Strategy program.

Operating across federal state borders, the alliance has achieved outstanding results, particularly in the field of research: For example, the number of joint RMU Collaborative Research Centers (CRCs) funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) has more than doubled since 2015 – from five to 11; the number of joint DFG research training groups has risen from two to six since 2016. Innovative cooperation projects have been launched and fruitfully implemented, supported through targeted grant schemes such as the RMU Initiative Funding for Research, which has so far contributed a total of more than EUR 2.5 million in financing.

In the field of learning and teaching, the more than 100,000 students at the partner universities benefit from the establishment of the RMU Study Program and its future-oriented range of courses offered by all three universities either side of the Hessen/Rhineland-Palatinate state border. Since its launch in the 2020/2021 winter semester, over 3,400 courses have been opened up to RMU students. The RMU Initiative Funding for Teaching has so far provided some EUR 500,000 for the development of innovative and sustainable collaborative teaching schemes which enhance the attractiveness of studying at Mainz, Frankfurt, and Darmstadt. The Rhine-Main Universities already offer seven joint study courses – in Anthropology/African Studies, Biomedical Engineering, or Political Science, for example.

The Rhine-Main Universities are dedicated to continuously refining and raising the profile of the alliance over the coming years. They specifically aim for the submission of joint Cluster of Excellence applications to the next German Excellence Strategy competition and, as an alliance with an overall concept for extending its leading position in top-level international research, to collectively apply for the second funding line for Universities of Excellence. The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Council of Science and Humanities are currently preparing the call for draft proposals for the Clusters of Excellence funding line, which is expected to be issued in late 2022. deciding on the specific timing of the competition. The next call for proposals in the Universities of Excellence funding line will take place after the funding decisions on the Clusters of Excellence in 2025.

In view of the coming nationwide Excellence Strategy competition and beyond, the three Rhine-Main University presidents – Professor Tanja Brühl (Darmstadt), Professor Enrico Schleiff (Frankfurt), and Professor Georg Krausch (Mainz) – have developed a joint RMU vision which invites students, researchers, and all university staff to help transform the alliance into a high-quality strategic university partnership over the next ten years:

  • The Rhine-Main Universities aim to become a leading innovation hub in the international academic landscape and to position themselves among the global pioneers in the key research areas of the future. The partners want to define and implement programs for the collaborative, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary development of those research fields – with the support of special RMU research structures. For researchers in the early stages of their careers, the RMU offer attractive options for independent professional advancement thanks to its unique funding environment and the diverse further qualification and funding opportunities offered by the three universities.
  • As for learning and teaching, the RMU plan to extend the existing RMU Study Program and to develop additional joint degree programs. The Rhine-Main Universities also intend to augment its tried and tested RMU Initiative Funding for Teaching in order to further enhance existing structures and formats as well as to create new cooperation models for learning and teaching, such as co-teaching courses and joint international summer schools.
  • The three universities have already opened up of parts of their continuing education programs to each other’s academic and technical administrative staff. In the long term, an RMU career development scheme will be established in which structures will be put in place designed to promote uniquely attractive career paths. Both short-term RMU-internal shadowing opportunities and agreements on professional exchanges between the three universities will contribute to this. There are great opportunities here to improve various aspects, such as work and family life balance, the appointment system, and dual career options.
  • The Rhine-Main Universities will enlarge their knowledge transfer activities to include the areas of academic training and research and technology transfer. Thanks to the diversity and breadth of options, the alliance will create career and training opportunities in all fields, making the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main metropolitan area an attractive location for studying, pursuing a research career, or working in administration and science management.

The Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science, and the Arts and the Ministry of Science and Health of Rhineland-Palatinate endorse and support the implementation and establishment of measures and options for the long-term development of a shared RMU identity at the universities of Darmstadt, Frankfurt and Mainz.

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