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International Researchers Bring the Rhine to the Fore

The University of Bonn once again gets a top spot in the Humboldt ranking system.

The University of Bonn is one of the most sought-after higher education institutions in Germany by visiting researchers from abroad. The latest ranking from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH) has ranked the University of Bonn in fourth place in a national comparison, with 162 scholarship recipients and 26 award winners. The AvH analyzed the distribution of its scholarship recipients and award winners among research disciplines and universities in Germany from 2007 to 2011. The ranking is particularly significant because sponsored researchers can freely choose which German higher education institution they would like to work with.

In order to avoid that the statistics should be distorted by the size of the host institutions, the recent ranking from Humboldt correlates the number of guest researchers to the number of professors at a university. Weighted this way, universities whose unmitigated number of residents is excellent (see table) still rank near the top with Berlin, Munich and Bonn (5th place). Bonn is the only university in the Top 10 from North Rhine-Westphalia, and it’s in good company: six of the ten higher education institutions are distinguished as universities of excellence.

The University of Bonn has had a great appeal to the Humboldt for many years and belongs to one of the most sought-after higher education institutions in Germany. The federal capital is the ‘place to be’ for physicians and biologists in particular: in the discipline of life sciences, Bonn ranks second (12th when weighted) with 30 scholarship recipients and two award winners. Only Gottingen did better with 34 researchers, two more than Bonn.

Bonn is traditionally popular among international natural scientists. With a total of 76 scholarship recipients and 19 Humboldt award winners, the university ranks third according to the unmitigated figures (8th when weighted). Only Munich's TU and LMU universities managed to get more award winners and scholarship recipients. In the humanities and social sciences, Bonn achieved seventh place (unmitigated and weighted) with 54 scholarship recipients and 3 award winners.

The People’s Choice

Humboldt award winners are internationally leading scholars distinguished by their scholarly work and invited to Germany. For over 50 years, the Humboldt Foundation has granted research scholarships and awards for research stays to brilliant scholars from all over the world in academic disciplines of their choosing. Because the Humboldt is able to take its pick of cooperation partners from the world's leading institutions, it is considered a seal of approval to be selected as an institution: an academic ‘people’s choice’.

“Our university’s ranking not only reaffirms its consistent reputation as an internationally-oriented university of research, it is also a great compliment to Bonn and the region,” says Rector Professor Dr. Jürgen Fohrmann. Students and guest scholars from over 130 various countries, from Afghanistan to Cyprus, and numerous international cooperations in research and teaching contribute considerably to the federal city’s international atmosphere.

Table: Top 10 Visited Universities (source: AvH)

Weighted rank    Institution                               Visiting Scholars
                                                                               weighted* (unmitigated)

  1    Free University of Berlin     140.2   (286)
  2    Humboldt-University Berlin     109.13 (263)
  3    University of Munich       77.31 (276)
  4    University of Bonn       65.28 (188)
  5    Technical University of Munich       59.79 (174)
  6    University of Heidelberg       58.95 (191)
  7    University of Freiburg       58.74 (158)
  8    Technical University of Berlin       57.14 (124)
  9    University of Gottingen       55.34 (140)
10    University of Bayreuth       54.96 (72)

*International visiting scholars per 100 professorships at the visited university.

For the complete ranking and more information, visit:

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