Third-party funding

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

As a third-party funds in to academia those funds understood that universities and research institutions or individual researchers in these institutions on the questions raised by the funding bodies available current budget and investment (basic) addition of a third party accrue. They are usually made available for a limited period of time for certain projects or research areas.

In a broader sense, third-party funds also include extra-budgetary funds that are provided by other educational institutions, such B. schools.

Acquisition of third-party funding from universities


The amount of additional funds raised contributes significantly to the prestige of the respective researchers and institutions; their importance has increased significantly in the recent past. In 2010, German universities had third-party funding of 5.9 billion euros at their disposal, compared to 7.4 billion euros in 2015. In 2016, 26% of the positions in the scientific artistic staff were financed by third parties. This is an increase of 6 percentage points since 2006. The largest group affected by this was the scientific and artistic staff . The excellence initiative , through which extensive additional third-party funding was made available, was primarily responsible for the increase .

In 2016, RWTH Aachen ranked first among universities in terms of third-party funding (excluding medical institutions) with 294 million euros, ahead of TU Munich with 276 million euros and TU Dresden with 210 million euros.

In 2017, a professor at German universities (excluding medicine / health sciences) raised an average of 266,200 euros from third-party funding. A professor at universities of applied sciences raised an average of 32,000 euros, and at art universities 17,400 euros.

The acquisition of third-party funding is an important goal at many universities and the commitment or success of the third-party funding by employees is a criterion for professional advancement. Many universities have set up special departments to help researchers apply.


In Switzerland z. For example, the federal government allocates a share of the initial funding to the universities based on how much third-party funding has been acquired. It should also be noted that the higher income from third-party funds also increases the budget for the university, which is allocated by the responsible ministry of the federal state (within the framework of the performance-based allocation of funds according to the Matthew principle ).

Third-party funding from public resources

Third-party funding does not only come from the private sector . By far the largest part comes from public research funding for certain research projects such as B. the German Research Foundation (DFG) , the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) or the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) . The most important third-party funder in Germany is the DFG .

Foundations such as the Volkswagen Foundation also award significant amounts of third-party funding. In Germany, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) awards third-party funding for the international exchange of students and academics . With various programs, the European Union is also gaining increasing importance for the allocation of third-party funds. CORDIS , the EU's research and development information service , provides overviews. The share of third-party funds in the total budget of the universities (excluding the medical institutions) is now almost 20% in Germany.

Originally, the term third-party funds only referred to the fact that the funds for research came from “third parties” outside the “individual researcher - university” relationship. In some cases, a distinction is still made between secondary funds and third-party funds : Secondary funds are then funds from government agencies or foundations, such as the DFG or the SNSF , while third-party funds based on contracts with other clients, e.g. B. industry, flow.

Third-party funding from companies

In 2015 the economy provided 1.4 billion euros in third-party funding. This corresponded to a share of 19% of the total third-party funding.

A problem with third-party funding can be the possible influence of donors on freedom of research , especially if they offer incentives for applied and results-oriented research. A distinction must be made between the result-independent financing of projects (e.g. through foundations) and pure contract research, where certain problems are to be solved on behalf of third parties (e.g. industry) and the client has a direct interest in the result of the project . The latter are more vulnerable to influence.

In the past few years in particular, a. the criticism of the distribution of third-party funds from the private sector. In the natural and engineering sciences, for example, a particularly large number of third-party funds are acquired. In mathematics and the natural sciences, for example, funds from the non-public sector accounted for 18.7 percent in 2011, while financing from the non-public sector only made up 5.8 percent of human medicine and 4.3 percent of the Benefited the art industry.

In 2018, the weekly magazine Die Zeit published information from a survey of 75 German universities on financial and personal assistance they received from companies.


In Switzerland, the cantons are responsible for the universities. As a result, there are also different regulations for third-party funding. Many contracts with private sponsors are not public and are only disclosed under pressure from outside. The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is the most important public provider of third-party funding in Switzerland.

In 2016, journalistic research showed the extent of cooperation between universities and third parties. According to this, professorships are sponsored more often than the average in the areas of “IT / Technology” and “Business”. And the donors often come from the pharmaceutical industry ( Sandoz , Merck Serono ) and the energy industry ( Axpo , BKW , Alpiq ).

Acquisition of third-party funding at schools in Germany

The establishment and operation of public schools in Germany is financed from tax revenues, which are made up of the various shares of the federal states and municipalities; In the case of private schools , funds from independent providers are added. In 2004 z. For example, general education schools received around 36 billion euros from the federal states, 9 billion euros from the municipalities and 0.8 billion euros from the private sector.

In addition, many schools operate fundraising and solicit donations and sponsorship services , especially from school development associations , foundations , companies and private individuals. The conditions under which schools may acquire third-party funds are set out in the school laws of the individual federal states. For details on the legal regulation of the acquisition of sponsorship services, see the article School Marketing .


University and research

  • Fürsen, Cay: Acquisition and research of third-party funding in the mirror of criminal law with special consideration of the problem of industry- oriented university medicine , Hamburg 2005, ISBN 3830019300
  • Tag, Tröger, Taupitz (Ed.): Acquisition of Third-Party Funding - Criminal Service? , Berlin 2004, ISBN 3540209999
  • “Acquisition of private third-party funds in medicine” In: Der Anaesthesist, Vol. 51 (2002), 1, pp. 47–48
  • "Third-party funding and basic funding from universities 1993–1998". Cologne: Office of the Science Council, 2000
  • "Research funding information for the Berlin universities: facts and information on third-party funding, funding institutions, application procedures". Berlin: FU, 1997- (magazine)
  • "Third-party funding from universities 1970–1990" Cologne: Office of the d. Science Council, 1993


  • Claudia Böhm-Kasper, Horst Weishaupt, Manfred Weiss: Private financing of public schools . German Institute for International Educational Research, 2008, ISBN 3-88494-239-5 .
  • Jens Uwe Böttcher: Money is on the street . Fundraising and sponsorship for schools. LinkLuchterhand, 2009, ISBN 3-472-07562-7 .
  • Wolfgang Mayer: Fundraising for schools . Develop successful concepts and attract funding partners. Beltz, 2013, ISBN 3-407-25695-7 .
  • Martina Peters: Money for your school . through PR, fundraising and sponsoring. Verlag an der Ruhr, 2008, ISBN 3-8346-0383-X .

Individual evidence

  1. BT-Drs. 10/225 (PDF; 888 KB)
  2. Press release of the Federal Statistical Office ( Memento of the original from March 12, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.  @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. a b Federal Statistical Office (ed.): Universities at a glance. May 2018 ( [PDF]).
  4. Third-party funding per university professor in 2016 of 258,000 euros at the previous year's level. Retrieved October 19, 2018 .
  5. General development of third-party funds. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on July 26, 2017 ; accessed on August 27, 2017 (English). Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  7. ^ THE magazine for adult education, edition 2007/2 (accessed on September 9, 2008)
  8. Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft e. V. (Ed.): Development of third-party funds. November 2017, p. 5-6 . ( ).
  9. Third-party funding is unevenly distributed . In: ZEIT ONLINE . February 18, 2014, accessed February 19, 2014 .
  10. Anant Agarwala, Fritz Zimmermann: With kind support. In: The time. March 8, 2018, accessed April 4, 2018 .
  11. Timo Grossenbacher, Marcel Hänggi, Julian Schmidli: Which donors sponsor Swiss universities. In: Swiss Radio and Television (SRF). April 19, 2016, accessed April 30, 2016 .
  12. How are schools financed? Retrieved April 21, 2014 .
  13. What are third-party funds? (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on April 27, 2015 ; Retrieved April 21, 2014 . Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /