Germany's controversial €1.9 billion (USD $2.3 billion) plan to create a band of elite universities to stimulate research and give German universities international reputations is on track for final approval next month after undergoing major revisions this week, according to the Federal Ministry of Research and Education.

The ministry first announced the competition early this year, asking universities to submit concepts for becoming international leaders, "which today include names such as Oxford, Harvard, and ETH Zurich [Swiss Federal Institute of Technology]."

Ministry spokeswoman Barbara Dufner told The Scientist the basic outline of a revised plan was approved last Monday (June 7) at a meeting between Federal Research and Education Minister Edelgard Bulmahn and representatives from German states.

Dufner said only a few details remain to be finalized before the July 5 meeting of the Federal and State Commission for Educational Planning and Research Promotion, which would have...

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