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Karlsruhe institute promises to work harder for excellence

The Karlsruhe Institute of Technology has made great leaps forward in getting funding but needs to work on excellence, the institute’s annual meeting has heard.

The institute has received more than €300 million in extra income from private sources and donations in the past year, the 10 November meeting was told. Launched in 2009, the institute has overseen 430 PhDs this year and now hosts a total of 23,700 students.

However, it was bumped off Germany’s list of institutions of excellence this year after losing funding from the German government’s Excellence Initiative. The KIT’s president, Eberhard Umbach, described this as a “huge disappointment”.

“The thing to remember is that the auditors gave us a very good review of our concept for the future,” he said. “That’s why we will continue on our way. Our goal is to take the KIT to widely visible success.

“Huge success comes with huge money worries,” Umbach said, though the institute’s newly founded foundation would take care of some of the costs associated with projects, such as personnel, bills and infrastructure access. Although the institute does not have financial problems, he added, it has had to decline some project involvement because it had struggled to find quickly expanding overhead costs.

The KIT is a merger of several local universities and research institutes, and is modelled on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.