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Letter from the Board of Directors to the members of the partner institutions to mark anniversary

Strong in research together – a year of excellence funding for Berlin University Alliance

Dear colleagues,
dear staff,
dear students,

With the goal of “Crossing Boundaries toward an Integrated Research Environment”, the Berlin University Alliance (BUA) has successfully established itself as the only excellence alliance in the excellence strategy of the federal government and states. The alliance consisting of the three major Berlin universities along with Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin has now been receiving funding for one whole year – with an annual figure of around 23.5 million euros. In order to shape the integrated research environment, the partner institutions have prioritized the following focal points in the development of the Berlin University Alliance: (1) joint research on agendas focusing on societal issues of global importance, (2) fostering multidirectional research and knowledge exchange, (3) structural organization for assessing and developing general standards for research quality and value, (4) establishing a Berlin-wide integrated space for careers and recruitment, and (5) expansion of a network for research services and infrastructures. The Cross-Cutting Themes of (6) supporting diversity and gender equality, (7) promoting research-based teaching and learning, and (8) advancing strategic internationalization support the above points.

The Berlin University Alliance was initiated with the purpose of bringing all of us forward and promoting both our institutions and Berlin as a research hub – we can only make this happen by working together. That is why we – the Board of Directors – would also like to start a conversation with you and keep this line open so that we can listen to any questions you might have. We are therefore delighted to invite you to a joint digital dialog “Fragt die BUA” (ask the BUA). Please note the date in your diary: Monday, January 18, 2021, from 11:30 am.

What have we achieved in the first year of the BUA?

“Crossing Boundaries” serves as a principle for implementing the joint ideas and projects: From a multitude of outstanding initiatives, we’ve managed to get six exploration projects off the ground as part of our first Grand Challenge on the topic of social cohesion. This took place in a multi-stage process in October 2020 where researchers from the BUA partner institutions work together. Over the next three years the exploration projects aim to support interdisciplinary research collaborations in the Berlin area that are dedicated to socially relevant questions and seek to further network research of the alliance partners on the topic of social cohesion. Together with our strategic partners, the University of Oxford, we’ve founded a Centre for Advanced Studies.

There was also a particular focus on networking in the area of graduate support during the first 12 months: The joint qualification program “Berlin Graduate Support Program” of the alliance partners has been started. The modules provided are open to all doctoral candidates of the alliance partners through the Dahlem Research School, Humboldt Graduate School, Zentraleinrichtung Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung und Kooperation (Central Institution for Further Education and Cooperation in Science), and Graduate Studies Support.

Due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, we were unable to start all the projects as we had planned. For that reason, funding in the program for research-based teaching will be begun in summer semester 2021 instead – students and junior researchers still have until December 11, 2020, however, to apply for tutorials and research groups.

Further pilot projects in the focal and cross-cutting areas are being implemented. We are glad to invite you to our end-of-the-year review and outlook on the home page of the Berlin University Alliance: https://www.berlin-university-alliance.de/en/excellence-strategy/anniversary/index.html 

We've worked intensively on developing the implementation structure and gained a lot of experience during the first year. While initially not everything has gone exactly as we might have hoped, we’re still learning a lot from these experiences and continue to try and optimize the services and processes.

You can also visit our website for information about all of our contacts in the institutions and administrative offices with the administrative units in the individual focal points which organize the implementation of projects for us and are happy to assist you further with any queries: https://www.berlin-university-alliance.de/en/about/organization/index.html 

We thank you for your commitment and confidently look forward to achieving further progress and success together as we strive to develop Berlin into an excellent hub of research.

Best regards,

Prof. Dr. Günter M. Ziegler, president of Freie Universität Berlin
Prof. Dr.-Ing. Dr. Sabine Kunst, president of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and spokesperson of the Berlin University Alliance
Prof. Dr. Christian Thomsen, president of Technische Universität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer, Chief Executive Officer of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin