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7 September 2005

New "Focus" Ranking Rates University of Heidelberg "Extremely Vital"

Best in biology, second in medicine and chemistry, third in psychology — Last year's top ten universities extend their lead against the rest of the field

A kind of peaceful educational revolution has taken place in Germany's higher education landscape over the last few years. Universities have taken to regarding their students and staff as clients; traditional courses have gradually given way to a system awarding Bachelor degrees at the end of the first stage and Master's degrees after the second stage; and universities are no longer allotted the students they get by a central clearing house but can largely choose the ones they want. As the President of the German Research Foundation, Ernst-Ludwig Winnacker, said recently, the result of all this is that "the whole system has been thoroughly overhauled in a short space of time." Students are the supreme asset in the higher education system and the universities compete for the best of them with a "product" called education. "And this is the key to excellence in higher education," Winnacker is convinced. Another essential factor in this peaceful revolution is self-advertisement. For students as clients the new developments have to be made as transparent as possible. University rankings are the ideal way of vaunting one's own assets. This year, the news magazine "Focus" has once again joined forces with experts from the Federal Statistics Office, the Fraunhofer Institute of Systems and Innovation Research and Thomson Scientific to identify the front runners in 20 major subjects at 86 universities.

The new ranking indicates clearly that last year's top ten universities in Germany have improved their standing even further and extended their lead over the rest of the field. The most significant group consists of four universities, the two in Munich and the Universities of Freiburg and Heidelberg.

Now over 600 years old, the University of Heidelberg is "extremely vital" according to Focus magazine. This is especially borne out by the first part of a new series of assessments on the life sciences. Just like last year, Heidelberg was able to assert — and in part enhance — its leading position in biology with 87 out of a possible 100 points. This year Heidelberg has done even better in the ISI Citation Index established by Thomson Scientific and indicating how often a scholarly or scientific publication from a university department is cited on an international level. External funding has also increased over last year.

The second place in medicine with 70 out of 100 points also proves that Heidelberg is on the right road and has maintained its excellent reputation in this field. Prospects in psychology are extremely promising too. Though still in third place with 58 out of 100 points, Heidelberg's psychology department has gained ground on the two leading universities, Konstanz and Bochum. The same is true of the latest subject to be assessed. With 71 out of 100 points, Heidelberg's chemists are only just behind the leaders at Munich's Technical University.

One of the most striking features of the University of Heidelberg is the high number of doctorates. This rate indicates the average number of doctoral dissertations supervised by a professor. The Focus ranking shows that the University of Heidelberg greatly encourages young scientists and scholars, thus laying the foundations for the future — not only for the University but for the country as a whole.

Stefan Kern

Please address any inquiries to
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317

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