Press releases – December 2018


Dec 13 2018

Goethe University and partner universities want to form network as “European University“ – “Trust through mobility“ as central theme

Standing shoulder to shoulder with Milan, Lyon and Birmingham

FRANKFURT. Goethe University has joined ranks with universities in Milan, Lyon and Birmingham to form an alliance of European universities for more intensive cooperation in the future. In February they will together apply for the title “European University” and funding by the EU. On Monday and Tuesday, the partners met in Frankfurt to discuss goals and opportunities of the collaboration.

“This application for ‘European University’ is a great opportunity for Goethe University,” said Professor Rolf van Dick, Vice President of Goethe University and responsible for international affairs, speaking informally during the meeting. As European University, networking in Europe would be strengthened and scientific and non-scientific projects could be tackled.

Three to five universities can apply together for the title “European University” with the European Commission. Important requirements are a common, long-term education strategy; a common (virtual) “European Campus”; and research and a student body characterized by diversity that can place their focus on the challenges of the future. Goethe University already has a partnership with the University of Birmingham, the Université Lumière Lyon II and Sciences Po Lyon, and the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cruce in Milan, and as partner cities, all four cities are furthermore on friendly and familiar terms. As “European University”, their cooperation could be intensified and made more concrete. If successful, the consortium will receive funding amounting to € 5 million for an initial three years.

In a well-received speech in September 2017, French President Emmanuel Macron proposed the creation of 20 European universities by 2024, referring to networking and alignment between existing European universities as opposed to the creation of new institutions. In difficult times for the European Union, university science and scholarship should be strengthened as an important engine for European integration. This would enable the younger generation, in particular, to again develop a stronger connection to the project of Europe. But scientific knowledge and learning are in general of great significance for developing a European identity – as manifested in the past by examples such as the Erasmus exchange programme, and collaborative research projects funded by the EU.

Macron affirmed his ideas impressively at Goethe University in October 2017. “It really inspired all of us,” says van Dick. In April, a task force was created, headed by van Dick. “It’s exciting, actually,” said James Walker from the Université Lumière Lyon II, praising Goethe University’s initiative. “We quickly found ourselves on the same page regarding our objectives and values. It almost doesn’t matter if our application isn’t successful. We’ll cooperate anyway,” says Walker. “It’s vital for us, as universities, to work together. If we cannot cooperate, how can we expect it of our politicians?” said Michael Whitby from the University of Birmingham, alluding to the Brexit crisis. And Edilio Mazzolini from Università Cattolica in Milan is “proud to be a part of this network“, because the identity of his university is “deeply European“.

Mobility, the meeting summed up, should be a central issue of the European University. Mobility of students, of scientific and non-scientific personnel, and also the mobility of ideas. The universities face similar challenges, for example in teaching, and together they will be able find better solutions. Birmingham has been a strategic partner for years; cooperation between the faculties of law and economics has existed for several years with Université Lumière Lyon II; with Sciences Po Lyon there is a lively partnership between the political science faculties; and Goethe University has a common master’s degree in film studies with Milan.

An image may be downloaded at:

Further information: Andrea Grebe, Office of the Vice President Professor Rolf van Dick, Tel: -49 69 798-12242, E-Mail:


Dec 10 2018

Economist Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln awarded € 1.6 million ERC Consolidator Grant

A better understanding of labour market behaviour and success

FRANKFURT. Why do some groups behave differently in the labour market than others? What determines labour market success? And which effect do public policies have in this context? These questions are at the centre of a new research project by Frankfurt economist and Leibniz Award winner Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln. The project has been made possible by the European Research Council (ERC)’s Consolidator Grant, one of the largest awards funding scientific research in the European Union. It has just been announced that Fuchs-Schündeln, who is currently in Australia for a research sabbatical, will receive a Consolidator Grant this year. Her project is titled: “Macro- and Microeconomic Analyses of Heterogeneous Labor Market Outcomes.” 

“For the second time within a very brief period, I have the pleasure of congratulating Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln on an impressive distinction,” comments University President Birgitta Wolff. “Following the Leibniz Prize from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation), this exceptional economist has now also brought an ERC Consolidator Grant to Frankfurt, which is an enormous success. It demonstrates the great recognition Fuchs-Schündeln enjoys also in the international research community. We are happy to have a colleague like her, with her innovative research approach, among us. In her research, she combines macro- and microeconomic methods and directs her view towards unconventional and innovative questions – a great enrichment for scientific dialogue and for Goethe University.” 

Since 2009, Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln has been Professor for Macroeconomics and Development at Goethe University Frankfurt. She is a principle investigator in the Excellence Cluster “The Formation of Normative Orders”, as well as in the LOEWE Centre “Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe”. From 2015 to 2016, she was a Visiting Professor at Stanford University in California. Fuchs-Schündeln received her Ph.D. from Yale and worked at Harvard as an Assistant Professor of Economics before joining Goethe University. She studied Latin American studies and economics at the University of Cologne.

As in her previous work, in the ERC project “Macro- and Microeconomic Analyses of Heterogeneous Labor Market Outcomes”, Fuchs-Schündeln remains true to her research style of combining macro- and microeconomic methods. The 46 year-old economist plans to carry out four subprojects; three examine differences in labour market behaviour and success of men and women, while the fourth one is concerned with differences in hours worked between poor and rich countries. Labour market data from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) and the Federal Statistical Office will serve as primary data sources. Individual work biographies, as well as company personnel strategies, can be gleaned from anonymized social insurance data from employees and employers.

One of the subprojects will pursue the question of how maternity leave policies affect the labour market success of women of child-bearing age, explains Fuchs-Schündeln. Although intended as not only family-friendly, but more specifically female-friendly policies, maternity leave policies may have negative consequences, because they could make employers more cautious about employing and promoting women. “These potential negative effects have not been investigated yet,” says the researcher. Such insights are not only of interest for Germany, since maternity leave policies are being discussed and implemented in many countries. Another subproject deals with the phenomenon that an increasing female share in an occupation correlates with decreasing relative wages of this occupation. “There are several hypotheses to explain this: It might be the case that an increasing female share lowers the prestige of an occupation – or the correlation might arise because women place a higher value on amenities such as flexibility, and greater flexibility comes with lower wages,” explains Fuchs-Schündeln. Along with other sources, this research will be based on data from East Germany, where women had made greater advances in technical occupations.

Fuchs-Schündeln will not carry out all this research alone. Several doctoral candidates and a postdoc will be involved in the project. “The research agenda is rather data-intensive,” states the economist. There are enough qualified candidates for these doctoral positions in Frankfurt, Fuchs-Schündeln observes. “At the faculty of economics and business administration, we have a structured doctoral program - the Graduate School of Economics, Finance, and Management, GSEFM - in which we jointly educate and train young researchers. That’s one of Goethe University’s great strengths.” The ERC project will be funded through 2024 with € 1.6 million.

The ERC Consolidator Grant is the latest in a series of honours: At the beginning of 2018, Fuchs-Schündeln won the Leibniz Award, the most prestigious German research award. In 2016, she was given the Gossen Award by the Verein für Socialpolitik (German Economic Association), the most important German award for economics. In 2010 she also already received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council.

A picture may be downloaded here:

Further information: Professor Nicola Fuchs-Schündeln, Professorship for Macroeconomics and Development, Faculty 02, Theodor-W.-Adorno-Platz 3, Westend Campus, Tel.: -49 69 798-33815, E-Mail: