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Research budget tops target

Germany’s public research and higher education budget will increase 6.2 per cent to €13.7 billion in 2013, according to the government’s budget plan for next year.

The proposed increase would exceed by €1.3bn the Merkel government’s goal of boosting research and higher education funding by €12bn during its legislative period 2010 to 2013.

“We have stuck by our word, and even added on to it,” said research minister Annette Schavan. “Considering we are in a euro crisis, this should be seen as an internationally important signal for science.”

Federal funding for research excellence in 2013 will be €680 million, according to the budget plan published on 23 November. This will be top-up money for projects mainly funded by the Länder, which are responsible for academic research and higher education funding. Germany has a research pact under which excellent research funding rises 5 per cent every year.

The hi-tech strategy budget, which funds applied research in social challenges, will get €2.3bn in 2013, nearly double its allocation for 2005, when it started. The money will go to large-scale research projects on health, fuel sources, food, and climate change.

“The largest part of Germany’s economic success is down to research and innovation,” said Schavan. “Having reliable research funding means we are getting ready to deal with the challenges of the future.”

The Hochschulpakt, an agreement which tops up the higher education funding provided by the Länder, will receive €1.85bn in 2013. However, universities have warned that this increase may not be enough to help them cope with an increase in student numbers resulting from the shortening of A-level education from 13 to 12 years in many Länder.