Information for Researchers, No. 18 | February 23, 2021

COVID-19 Focus Funding: Education and Corona – The Impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic on Educational Processes in the Life Course

With its COVID-19 Focus Funding, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has developed a new funding opportunity designed to enable scientists to address especially urgent research questions requiring rapid answers (cf. DFG Information for Researchers No. 51, 2020). The projects can be used as preparation for subsequent larger-scale projects.

In this call under COVID-19 Focus Funding, the DFG is inviting proposals on the topic of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on educational processes in the life course.

The focus of the call is to conduct a secondary analytical investigation of educational processes in the life course and how these educational processes are organised. The aim is to analyse pandemic-related influences on education and look at the implications in terms of future developments (e.g. social inequality). Potential project focus areas include in-school and out-of-school educational processes, family interactions (e.g. home schooling) and processes within and relating to the organisation of early childhood education as well as continuing education in adulthood. Another possibility is to evaluate the changes that have come about in terms of digital innovation and new forms of organisation in teaching and learning from the perspective of children, young people and parents in educational processes, as well as that of teachers and educational institutions; these can be examined by taking into account the varying points of departure and needs (e.g. distance learning for children with special needs, use of masks in the teaching of children with hearing impairments, work-life balance when working from home).

The potential of available, quality-assured data sets gained from longitudinal studies should be used to analyse the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on educational processes in the life course. The use of both quantitative and qualitative data sets and research methods is possible, and data from ongoing population studies and from supplementary studies carried out with specific reference to the coronavirus pandemic can be considered. Furthermore, the additional collection of qualitative or quantitative data in the context of supplementary and in-depth studies with specific reference to the coronavirus pandemic is also possible, providing existing samples and/or field access are used for this purpose and no new participants are recruited. When applying to conduct supplementary and in-depth studies, the proposal itself is expected to include concepts for the survey instruments to be used. The use or further development of existing instruments for conducting the supplementary or in-depth studies is also conceivable. The synthesis and integration of different data sets is likewise possible. The data quality should be presented in the proposal taking into account existing subject-area standards, also with regard to the limits of external validity. In order to ensure the project can get underway swiftly and can be completed within a maximum of twelve months, the accessibility of the data should be explained. If a statement from an ethics committee is necessary, this must be submitted along with the proposal or shortly afterwards (see FAQ under “Further Information”).

Type of Funding

To submit research projects under this call, applicants should use the newly developed COVID-19 Focus Funding instrument, which takes the form of an individual research grant. Focus Funding seeks to enable scientific communities to pursue, in a rapid and simplified process, research on current questions in response to the ongoing need for rapid knowledge of the highest quality as a contribution to analysing and overcoming the coronavirus pandemic.

Individual projects limited to the topic of the call can be supported through Focus Funding for a maximum period of 12 months. The amount is limited to the funding for staff and direct project costs in the basic module. Unlike calls for individual projects, in Focus Funding, instrumentation over €10,000 and the modules for Mercator fellows, temporary positions for principal investigators, substitutes, temporary substitutes for clinicians, and project-specific workshops are not eligible for funding.

Support is available for projects of the highest scientific quality that break new scientific ground, promise to deliver a substantial contribution to knowledge on the specific research question of the call and are expected to be completed in a funding period of up to one year. The brevity of the proposal documents and the short funding duration of a maximum of only one year mean that the applicant must have a sound track record – demonstrated for example by past merits (publications, awards, etc.) – and that established research infrastructure and a corresponding repertoire of methods must be available. In all other respects, the normal quality criteria for DFG funding apply.


To apply for financial support through COVID-19 Focus Funding, applicants must submit a brief proposal containing a description of the scientific project of no more than 5 pages. Detailed information can be found in the proposal instructions and guidelines for COVID-19 Focus Funding. A proposal template is also available. Proposals, curricula vitae and other documents should be in English and be submitted via the elan portal under “Fokus COVID-19: Bildung” by 23 March 2021. When completing the proposal, please note the limitations on the funding duration and available funding modules, as these cannot be preset in the system.

If this is your first proposal to the DFG, please note that you must register in the elan portal before you can submit your proposal. Registration must be completed by 
9 March 2021 to be able to submit your proposal under this call.

Researchers based at universities, universities of applied sciences, non-university research institutions and healthcare facilities are equally eligible to submit proposals. As an exception, this funding measure is exempted from the normal duty to cooperate in order to integrate all areas of science in Germany and enable rapid action. In all other respects, the normal eligibility requirements apply.

Further Information

Detailed information on the coronavirus pandemic:

DFG Information for Researchers No. 51/2020 with additional information on Focus Funding can be found at:



Elan template:

FAQ for proposals in the humanities and social sciences:

FAQ for proposals in the life sciences:

Questions about the call can be directed to the following DFG programme contact:

  • Dr. Annabell Zentarra
    Humanities and Social Sciences 2:
    Social and Behavioural Sciences
    phone +49 228 885-2762

Administrative questions can be directed to the following contact person:

  • Dominik Gosal
    Humanities and Social Sciences 2:
    Social and Behavioural Sciences
    phone +49 228 885-2436