Press Release No. 30 | July 7, 2021

DFG Member Organisations Approve Amendments to Statutes

Addition of preamble / Changes to governance structure / Gender-sensitive language

Addition of preamble / Changes to governance structure / Gender-sensitive language

On 7 July 2021, the General Assembly of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) approved a set of amendments to the statutes of the largest research funding organisation and central self-governing body of the research community in Germany during its session at the DFG’s annual meeting, held online this year. The Senate and the Joint Committee of the DFG had discussed the proposed changes at their preceding virtual meetings. The changes were drafted by a Statutes Committee appointed during the 2019 annual meeting in Rostock and finalised following extensive discussions in the statutory bodies and with the member organisations. The main changes include the addition of a preamble, a revision of the governance of the DFG and an adaptation of the language used, in particular with regard to gender equality.

For the first time, the text of the statutes is preceded by a preamble that describes the position of the DFG within the German research system. This sets out overarching points of reference delineating the DFG’s framework for action. For example, the preamble states that the DFG uses its creative potential “in its commitment to academic freedom and fundamental ethical principles”. In addition to guaranteeing academic freedom, the DFG’s actions are to be guided by fundamental ethical principles such as responsibility and integrity, sustainability and diversity.

The amended statutes also allow for the optional introduction of an additional full-time Executive Board member, so in future a full-time Vice President position can be created alongside the positions of President and Secretary General. Such an additional full-time member of the Executive Board may be elected by the General Assembly on the proposal of the President after deliberation by the Executive Committee and the Joint Committee. This possibility of expansion was included in view of the fact that the tasks and responsibilities assigned to Executive Committee members have increased significantly in recent times. This has to do with the ongoing expansion of the work done by the DFG within the research system in recent years, now going far beyond selecting the best research projects by means of a competitive procedure and securing their funding.

Another aspect in the statutes that concerns the interlinking and interaction between DFG bodies is the possibility of inviting two member representatives as permanent guests on the Joint Committee. This invitation applies whenever the Committee discusses fundamental funding policy issues. The aim is to ensure that members are more frequently and concretely involved in funding policy issues beyond the annual General Assembly. Participation in the DFG’s funding decisions is deliberately not envisaged, however, so as not to interfere with the careful balance of decision-making responsibilities among the bodies of the DFG.

The updated statutes also stipulate that the beginning of the terms of office of Executive Committee and Senate members will in future fall at the turn of the year following the election. This will be implemented for the first time in connection with the elections at the 2022 General Assembly.

In addition to the changes to the content, the language of the statutes was also revised. Particular emphasis was placed on the use of gender-sensitive language in order to address all genders appropriately. The DFG is already working to promote the use of gender-neutral language in a wide variety of areas and is now also implementing this in its statutes as far as possible. Only in the case of established legal terms and the names of the bodies have the existing expressions been retained, for reasons of comprehensibility and readability.

Further Information

Media contact:

  • DFG Press and Public Relations
    Tel. +49 228 885-2109

Text of the statutes online:

The new version of the statutes will be published on the DFG website once it has been entered in the Register of Associations.

This and all other press releases for the 2021 virtual annual meeting can also be found in a digital press kit at