Max Planck Society and University of Heidelberg Conclude Pioneering General Agreement on Cooperation
12 February 2007
Cooperation agreement provides for different models for joint professorial appointments, junior professorships, Max Planck fellowships, joint young research group leaders, joint research projects and much more besides
The Max Planck Society and the University of Heidelberg have entered into a general agreement hitherto unprecedented in Germany. For Rector Prof. Dr. Peter Hommelhoff the agreement opens up exiting new prospects for the future: "The University of Heidelberg intends to substantially extend its cooperation with the Max Planck Society and its institutes. The synergies associated with this cooperation can also be expected to enhance its position in the Initiative for Excellence." The cooperation – as laid down in a standard contract not only for the four Max Planck Institutes situated in Heidelberg – provides for different models for joint professorial appointments, junior professorships, Max Planck fellowships, joint young research group leaders, joint research projects and much more besides.
The Senate of the University of Heidelberg had already approved the agreement last year. "Even now, existing forms of cooperation between Max Planck Institutes and institutions and individual researchers at the University of Heidelberg are both extremely numerous and highly successful," Rector Hommelhoff said at the time. The new General Agreement is designed to provide an overall description of the range of potential cooperation between the University of Heidelberg and individual Max Planck Institutes. However, it does not in any way restrict the possibilities for new forms of collaboration in the future. The intention is rather to supply the Faculties with more precise information and to facilitate the conclusion of specific cooperation agreements with the various Max Planck Institutes working in the same areas.
The Agreement regulates the appointment to a W3 professorship at the University and as a scientific/academic member of a Max Planck Institute. Here the two partners have three different models at their disposal: full-time professorship at the University with secondary activity as scientific/academic member of a Max Planck Institute; professorship at the University suspended for a period of activity at a Max Planck Institute; full-time scientific/academic membership of a Max Planck Institute plus secondary activity as honorary professor of the University with the rights and obligations of a member of this corporate body. The relevant section of the Agreement regulates the details of joint professorial appointments, the teaching load, involvement in administration work, property rights, licensing issues and a great deal more besides.
Junior professorships and Max Planck fellowships
The Agreement states that the University and the Max Planck Society aim at closer cooperation on appointments to junior professorships. A general agreement on this issue was concluded back in February 2006. University teaching staff can be appointed Max Planck fellows or external scientific/academic members of a Max Planck Institute with a view to strengthening academic contacts and potential cooperation between the University and a Max Planck Institute.
Leadership of junior research groups
Support for young academics is a matter of crucial significance for both partners. Subject to approval from its executive bodies and clearly defined limiting conditions, the University of Heidelberg accepts the obligation to confer the right of examination and doctoral supervision on independent junior research group leaders of the Max Planck Society. One such condition is that the junior research group leader must participate in teaching at the relevant Faculty to an extent corresponding to the teaching obligations of a junior professor. Involvement in a Graduiertenkolleg (DFG-funded time-limited (post)graduate research group) or a structured course of doctoral study, notably at an International Max Planck Research School, can be counted as part of the teaching load.
Joint research projects
The General Agreement provides broad scope for such projects. One factor is the participation of the University in cross-institute research initiatives, an instrument for research advancement introduced by the Max Planck Institute in 1999. In addition, both partners cooperate in tandem clinical-research projects, a research advancement measure introduced by the Max Planck Society in 2000 to encourage the transfer of basic biomedical knowledge to clinical practice.
To a closely defined extent, Max Planck research groups can be established temporarily at universities in the framework of a pilot programme instituted in 1999. The idea here is for universities to be able to accommodate research projects geared to the criteria of the Max Planck Society both in research-design and staff terms. After the project has run its course, the research group can be disbanded, permanently integrated into the university or taken as a starting point for the establishment of a new Max Planck Institute.
In addition, the Agreement refers to joint research programmes in the framework of DFG (German Research Foundation) support programmes (normal procedure, long-term collaborative research projects, priority programmes and DFG research centres). Other joint projects can be undertaken in the framework of the Initiative for Excellence, the objective of which is primarily to strengthen the universities but which expressly provides for, and advocates, participation by non-university research institutions.
Cooperation in advancement for young researchers, notably doctoral students
The University and the Max Planck Society aim at closer cooperation in the field of advancement for young researchers, notably doctoral students.
The University is establishing a Graduate Academy made up of Graduate Schools but also catering for individual doctorates. Each of these Schools consists of various graduate programmes. Irrespective of the nature of supervision and the identity of the supervisor, every doctoral student at the University of Heidelberg is a member of a Graduate School and hence of the Graduate Academy. This entitles him/her to draw upon the offerings of the Graduate Academy to the same extent and under the same conditions as University doctoral students not supported by the Max Planck Society.
International Max Planck Research Schools
The University of Heidelberg and the Max Planck Society aim to
enlarge the number of joint International Max Planck Research Schools
(IMPRS) and will call upon their Faculties and institutes to make
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Dr. Michael Schwarz
Press Officer of the University of Heidelberg
phone: 06221/542310, fax: 54317
Dr. Bernd Wirsing
Public Relations Officer
Max Planck Society
phone: 089/21081275, fax: 21081207