German universities are pretty, uh, mediocre. They get the job done, and clever people can get a great education, but they're not generating world-changing ideas, or fascinating press coverage. For complex historical reasons (including a rather pronounced sense of egalitarianism), none of them has been able to develop into a world-class institution, where the best students and professors mingle in a hothouse environment.
Now there's a plan to create "top universities" that will attract the best students and professors.
Because this is Germany, it's all being run by the Federal Education Ministry as a coordinated, highly-regulated program. The program even has a motto: "Brain Up! Deutschland sucht seine Spitzen-Unis" ("Brain Up! Germany's looking for its top universities"). Yes, "Brain Up !" is in English.
One interesting aspect of the policy is -- whoa, hold on a second: "Brain Up !"?! Trust me when I say that English knows no expression "Brain Up!" (The German equivalent must be something like Aufgehirnt!). The sarcastic remarks practically write themselves. Nor is the second part of the motto particularly, er, elite. It seems to imply that (1) German already has a top university; but (2) lost it somewhere. "Excuse me very much, please. I am Germany, and I seem to have lost my exclusive elite university. I think I last saw it around Rome, but I was also showing it to a few people near Bristol. Listen for many people using words like Verdinglichung, or young people protesting against tuition fees. If you find it, very big reward! Big medal for chest, we call it Bundesverdienstkreuz!"