Excellence Initiative | Institutional Strategy
In its Institutional Strategy „Modell Konstanz“, the University of Konstanz has expressed its measures to strengthen cutting-edge research and to develop to a leading centre of top-level-research. Under its characteristic mission statement of a "Culture of Creativity", the University of Konstanz drafted and implemented a catalogue of targets for its core areas of focus: to promote top-level research and young researchers, to deliver the parameters for top-level research, such as "Institutional Creativity", including equal opportunity and promoting families, as well as engaging in dialogue and debate with the general public. There are two equally important and complementary goals: the prominence of innovative areas of research and the promotion of inventive and top-performing researchers.
The University of Konstanz, founded as a ‘reform university’ (dedicated to multidisciplinary research), has proven its outstanding quality and excellence in teaching and learning by achieving the top position in many rankings and by attracting external funding.
The focus of the university‘s institutional strategy is to deliver a general framework for fostering cutting-edge research in order to develop its overall „Culture of Creativity“. It deals with the underlying strengthening of the university’s research fields and the instruments necessary in order to accomplish this. The third line of funding within the Excellence Initiative, the Cluster of Excellence and the Graduate School complement each other through their conceptual links, in order to develop the university into a European centre for first-class young academics. Its flexible structure supporting research and the creative, co-operative spirits of all its members are a basis for this development. The long-term planning of “Modell Konstanz” as a culture of creativity has shown that conditions of work that are adapted to individual needs are indispensible in order to inspire inventive research.
All services and measures offered by the Institutional Strategy – including the Cluster of Excellence „Cultural Foundations of Social Integration“ and the Konstanz Research School Chemical Biology – are implemented within an overall-strategy into the University as a whole. With this overall-strategy, the University of Konstanz succeeded in sharpening its research profile and to consolidate its top ranking position as a nationally and internationally recognised research university.
The following building blocks have been linked to a guiding structural strategy by the University of Konstanz with the motto “Modell Konstanz – Towards a Culture of Creativity”:
1. Research Initiatives, Infrastructural and Networking Platforms
Research Initiatives serve to initiate external funded integrated research projects. Research initiatives last two years, and allow researchers to work together beyond the boundaries of their specific fields on an interdisciplinary and cutting-edge research programme. By working in this way on new research areas, they also develop the research profile of the University.
Infrastructural Platforms have created the equipment base and structural conditions needed to initiate and carry out multi-disciplinary research projects. The equipment centres that have been set up to support emerging collaborative research projects and can be used by all scientists. The incorporation and use of infrastructure platforms for teaching purposes has made a major contribution towards the development of research-based teaching at the University.
Networking Platforms serve to intensify scientific exchange with external partners, which ideally then evolves into joint publications and projects. The networks promote scientific dialogue e.g. by financing workshops and research trips.
2. Freedom for Creativity
The programme ‘Freedom for Creativity’ is designed to give outstanding researchers the opportunity to advance their research activities by a leave of absence and by allowing a flexible reduction of their teaching load. Awarding „Freedom“ in this way is an efficient means of increasing research output, creating new research areas and initiating larger collaborative research projects.
The reduction of teaching hours was offset by deploying qualified international tandem partners to step in for the missing hours, so that the „Freedom for Creativity“ actually enhanced the teaching offering, especially in regard to courses in English language.
The „Zukunftskolleg“ is one of the central points of the University‘s strategy for supporting young academics. The Zukunftskolleg offers outstanding young researchers of all disciplines a creative environment for their research. It brings together young and experienced scientists in an interdisciplinary, international and intergenerational community, thus creating a robust network of scientific excellence and multi-faculty discussion. At the same time, it offers them the academic and institutional infrastructure they need for their work.
The Zukunftskolleg awards post-doctoral fellowships to young researchers who have already demonstrated outstanding academic achievements and whose projects have extraordinary potential. The Zukunftskolleg established itself as a new, additional scientific career path to further leading academic positions. Thus, it had a positive structural effect for the entire University.
You can find further information on the Zukunftskolleg’s website.
4. Junior Professorships, Young Researcher Groups, Young Scholar Fund
Offering funding measures and support which take into account their different needs and the wide variety of career paths, the University of Konstanz promotes all of its young researchers. The University has drawn up a “Code of Practice on Young Researchers“ in which the formal status and rights of young science academics in the post-doc phase are set out, and the University commits itself to maintain defined standards in respect of transparency of evaluation criteria, advice and mentoring, equality, family support, representation of interests, grant structures and accessibility.
A particular feature of the support given to young academics at the University of Konstanz is the close ties between the various models available. The University of Konstanz was one of the first universities in Germany to deploy Junior Professors, and these are increasingly provided with Tenure Track-options. To support young academics in the transitional period before taking up their first professorships, Transitional Positions have been created.
In order to foster young researchers, the Young Scholar Fund has been implemented. It makes funds available to support young researchers developing their own research projects.
The University of Konstanz wishes to continually increase its international reputation and its attraction for outstanding academics through excellent research conditions and at the same time work closer together with the world's best universities and research institutes in constructive competition. This challenging aim of the university requires, alongside the increase in international contacts, a development of its presence abroad. To support these efforts, the university has established the „International Advisory Board“ made up of international members. Its role is to improve the internationalisation strategy of the university in a sustainable fashion.
To accompany this, the scope of services provided by the International Office as a central location for partnerships, exchange programmes and student exchanges has been expanded and its cooperation with the departments has been enhanced.
The university's internationalisation strategy takes place on all levels and increasingly expands the university‘s worldwide network of institutional partnerships.
With its programme “Global Alliance“, the University of Konstanz is also currently setting up a network of high ranking research universities whose main areas of research and structures match well. The collaboration will extend from joint research projects and applications for international research funds through joint doctorate courses, study programmes and student exchange programmes to cooperation at the level of service facilities.
In order to intensify the University‘s internationalisation strategy, a Vice Rector for International Affairs has been appointed. The number of double-degree study programmes is incessantly raising and the Student‘s mobility on international level is fostered by the “Study Abroad“-campaign.
The Welcome Center, which supports international guest scholars and newly approved professors with a comprehensive service for personal and administrative details (assistance with authorities, accommodation, childcare), has been well established.
6. Supporting Services
The centrally organised supporting services of the university are fundamental in enabling the Konstanz academics to receive all possible support so they are able to concentrate on research and teaching. At the same time, the offered services also help scientists further their career.
As part of its Institutional Strategy, the University intensified its personnel development efforts by establishing the Academic Staff Development Unit.
The Research Support Unit offers researchers support and concrete assistance in preparing proposals for extramural as well as intramural funding.
The service unit Communication – Information – Media (KIM) aims to link IT-services in the areas of information provision, information transfer and media usage in teaching and research for all user groups at the University.
7. Quality Management
Quality Management comprises the planning, implementation, evaluation, monitoring and further development of projects and processes with the aim of enhancing the controlling capacity of the University, and of increasing awareness for quality in all areas. As a part of evaluation processes, Strengths/Weaknesses-Analyses were carried out, and change processes were initiated on the basis of the results.
8. Equal opportunity and promoting families
One of the Institutional Strategy‘s primary aims is to provide gender equality and to promote families in all areas of activity and on all levels of the University.
As a certified family friendly university, the University of Konstanz has passed a „Code of Practice on Gender Equality“. In this Code, the University commits itself to ensuring that all areas of activity without exception offer equal opportunity and are family compatible.
In its report on implementation of the ‘Equal Opportunity Standards in Research’, the DFG adjudicated that the University of Konstanz's innovative measures were in Category 4, which amounts to optimum realisation. The DFG gives special mention to the convincing overall strategy, the clear positioning at the Executive Level, the clear assignment of responsibilities and the successes in numbers achieved.
9. Marketing, Fundraising, Science Communication
In order to improve its efficiency, the former "Fundraising" was complemented by the areas of national and international marketing as well as by the science communication, and was pooled in the new “Staff of the University Executive: Communications and Marketing". A distinctive marketing and communication strategy integrates the areas of press and public relations, the alumni area, the conference management and the Konstanz Science Forum, as well as operative marketing and fundraising. In competition for financial support for research, academic achievements and successes are linked to their perception by the public and by stakeholders. A fundamental aspect of this is the confidence placed in the University of Konstanz and its achievements.
Through new fundraising strategies, it was possible to seek considerable support from various fields. This includes, amongst other things,
- support for the photovoltaic research in Konstanz which amounts to billions,
- the raising of three million euros for the "Hector-Personalfonds der Universität Konstanz”, with which equipment commitments in negotiations about appointments and continuations, and bonus incentives for outstanding achievements are financed, and tenure track positions are created,
- as well as projects like the new „Konstanzer Stipendienfonds”, which facilitates the sponsorship of students through periodic and single donations.
Being established in the first funding period of the Excellence Initiative, the Conference Management‘s offers services that extend in scope from organisational support up to the complete project management of events and large-scale congresses. The Conference Management professionalises the university‘s events and allows the academic staff to spare valuable resources.
The University of Konstanz‘s measures in the area of alumni have been optimised by establishing a central Alumni Office. New instruments and measures aimed to integrate the members under particular consideration of the students ("bonding from the 1st term onwards") were implemented successfully. Alumni Clubs have been founded in China and Romania, further clubs are in preparation.
An interface between the University and the general public since 2006, the Konstanz Science Forum is the University of Konstanz's platform for the exchange of ideas between science, politics, economy and society. Through several conferences, workshops and presentations, the Konstanz Science Forum initiates debates around important themes about the future of academia and research. This not only fosters dialogue with the "outside world”, but also within the University itself, the Science Forum is a much sought-after debating partner, with its events about the development of higher education and the University's image and identity.