Carefully coordinated and attuned quality assurance instruments ensure that the funding programs of the Elite Network of Bavaria retain the same consistently high quality. Two high-level bodies, the International Commission and the Advisory Board, oversee and support funding programs’ quality assurance measures with regard to their content and methodology.
Elite Graduate Programs and Doctorate Programs realized under the umbrella of the Elite Network of Bavaria are evaluated at regular intervals by expert committees made up of pre-eminent figures. Each committee is composed of an International Commission member specialized in the respective discipline as well as a range of external experts.
In these assessments, particular emphasis is placed on evaluating the continued quality of individual programs in reference to the education given to students and doctoral researchers. A peer-review procedure is used to carry out the assessments.
The results of the committees’ assessments form the basis for the International Committee’s recommendations to the State Ministry of Science and the Arts regarding the programs’ continued funding. Following the total funding period of ten years, universities can continue to offer Elite Graduate Programs under the umbrella of the Elite Network of Bavaria, initially for two further five-year periods, provided that they cover the funding requirements. During this extension period, Elite Graduate Programs continue to be subject to the Elite Network’s quality checks.
In addition to expert assessments, member surveys are another important component of our quality assurance system. These surveys not only collect the opinions of current ‘active’ members but also gather feedback from the Elite Network’s alumni.
The feedback that students and doctoral researchers in our Network provide regarding their experiences of their Elite Graduate Program or Doctorate Program, as well as their expectations of the programs and whether they have been met, provides indications as to how we can further optimize our funding lines. The experiences of scholarship holders provide the Advisory Board with the impetus to make recommendations to the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts regarding the future development of the Max Weber Program and the Marianne-Plehn-Program. The survey of our alumni, conducted once every two years, allows us to integrate the experiences of people who have successfully completed and benefited from one of our funding programs in order to improve our offering.
Providing the best possible support for talented young students and researchers also means analysing the structural framework conditions that underpin our funding programs. To this end, the Heads of Elite Graduate Programs, International Doctorate Programs and Junior Research Groups produce interim reports on a regular basis.
The full-scale evaluation of the Elite Network of Bavaria allows us both to examine the quality and attraction of our funding programs and to consider potential methods to develop them further. Every seven years, the Elite Network of Bavaria submits itself to a full-scale evaluation by a Commission of renowned experts.
The first such evaluation took place in 2010. On that occasion, the professors in the top-class expert Commission led by Prof. Elmar W. Weiler, then the Rector of the Ruhr University Bochum, concluded that the Elite Network of Bavaria is an “excellent institution which the Free State [of Bavaria] should firmly maintain and expand wherever possible.”
The Commission considers the Elite Network of Bavaria to be utterly exemplary in terms of support for gifted and elite students, and congratulates the Free State of Bavaria on this outstanding program.
Summary of the Commission report for the second full-scale evaluation
The outcome of the second full-scale evaluation, conducted in 2017, was also extremely positive. In its final report, the Commission led by Prof. Birgitta Wolff, President of the Goethe University of Frankfurt, concluded: “The Commission considers the Elite Network of Bavaria to be utterly exemplary in terms of support for gifted and elite students, and congratulates the Free State of Bavaria on this outstanding program. The Free State of Bavaria has hereby set clearly visible milestones in the academic landscape.”