Activities of the Stifterverband

The Stifterverband is one of three partners in the HFD consortium. It actively pursues multiple initiatives bearing on higher education in the digital age. Here we present a sampling.

Future Skills


With "Future Skills [German]", starting in 2018 Stifterverband promoted and networked students, teachers and educational institutions to equip them for shaping the future. The idea of the 3-year project is to provide an impetus for greater efforts by all of German society to endow people with the skills needed for the digital turn in industry, research, and society. It develops concepts and stimulates processes to initiate new learn and teach forms and to consider the economy’s needs as society becomes digitalized.

The first funding program under the initiative will help upgrade universal data literacy education [German] for students. Three universities will each receive 250,000 euro for this purpose.

Duration: 2018 - 2021

Fellowships for Innovations in Thuringia’s Higher Education

The state of Thuringia’s Ministry for Industry, Science, and Digital Society joins with Stifterverband in supporting ten teachers with up to 40,000 euro for innovations in digital university teaching [German]. The idea is to provide incentives for developing and experimenting with digitally-supported teaching and exam formats. In addition, the emphasis will be on the fellowship helping to stimulate a sustained, discipline-specific and/or discipline-spanning discussion in universities about digital teaching in higher education. The first funding period will begin in January 2019.

Duration: 2018 - TBD

Digital Learning Transfer Fellowships

Stifterverband and the Reinhard Frank Foundation award fellowships [German] for analyzing digital trends and their transfer potentials for advancing higher education in the digital age. Eight researchers were selected in November 2017.

Duration: 2017 - 2018

Open Knowledge Fellows Program

Research data and results should be on the Internet accessible to all, transparent, and re-usable. The Open Knowledge Fellow program [German] funds the opening of research and teaching in the sense of Open Science, where researchers and the whole society can take part in academic research, and also the Wikipedia collaborative research model.

Duration: 2016 -

Fellowships for innovations in North Rhine-Westphalia higher education

Jointly with the Ministry for Culture and Science of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Stifterverband funds teachers with up to 50,000 euro per year for innovations in teaching [German]. The program is designed to provide 40 Fellows with the latitude and the resources for implementing innovative teaching concepts. Exchanges on (digital) higher education and disseminating the teaching innovations developed are to be promoted in seminars and a teacher conference. The funding program was tendered for the first time in 2016; it is currently in its third round.

Duration: 2016 -

Curriculum 4.0

The growing digitalization of our personal life and world of work requires university graduates equipped with new skills and qualification profiles so they can actively participate in society as citizens and be employable. Hence, social courses of action and work environments will be characterized even more by complex interactions between people, machines, and networked structures. Employees must be prepared to work much more collaboratively in interdisciplinary, interprofessional, sector-spanning and international contexts; technologization will occur in all areas of work, making the mastery of digital media indispensable.  

The Curriculum 4.0 [German] program was tendered in 2016 and is slated to close in early 2019. It funds curricular reform programs that take off in innovative directions to get universities in shape for meeting these challenges.

Duration: 2016 - 2019

Strategy competition: higher education and digitalization


To promote and highlight digitalization strategies in German universities, the Stifterverband joined with the Heinz Nixdorf Foundation to launch Strategy Competition "Higher Education and Digitalization" [German]. For two years starting in 2015, under this program eight universities each received 150,000 euro to finance the implementation or further development of their digitalization strategies.

Duration: 2015 to 2017

Digital University Pearl

The Digital University Pearl is the designation for an innovative, exemplary project put into practice at a university. In 2015, the Stifterband wished to highlight the multiplicity of digital innovations at German universities and introduce them to the public: to that end, every month of the year 2015 an outstanding project was awarded the Digital University Pearl [German].

Duration: 2015