What mechanisms do German public universities have for funding research equipment?

E.g., suppose a PhD student at a German public university needs a GPU-enabled computer or laptop for their research work.

How can they fund that? Do universities have any funding mechanism?

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    There is information missing: In comments below you state that you don't study in Germany. So why ask about Germany? Sep 28 at 11:27
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    This question is unclear. Usually universities have different infrastructures, and students there can book time of the infrastructure. No need for PhDs to know how university funds its infrastructure. For example, a GPU-computer would be a cluster computer (example: wiki.uni-jena.de/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=22453005 ) and the student can book time on a similar cluster there (example: wiki.uni-jena.de/display/URZ010SD/HPC-Cluster+Draco )
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 28 at 11:45
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    We are trying to help you, but cannot do so without the necessary information. You not being there puts you at a disadvantage, so we must know why that is. If you don't tell us, then we cannot help you. Not because we don't want to, but just because it is impossible. Sep 29 at 11:24
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    Honestly taking the comments by left by the user into account this sounds like "I'd like someone to buy me a gaming laptop". Add to this the Germany tag, even though the user isn't in Germany just makes it more confusing. I'm in the UK, if you need a GPU you'll get access to a centrally managed one, no-one will buy you one for your own personal use only. Sep 29 at 11:39
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    Perhaps if you were asking about the country you are actually in you could get advice about systems in the country that actually affects you.
    – Bryan Krause
    Sep 29 at 13:33

2 Answers 2


Funding comes from two possible places the University/department or external funding agencies via grants. Who funds what depends on what's being funded, how much funding is needed, and who the money is benefiting. For (large) equipment purchases it can also be the case that external grants require the University to pay part of the cost while the external grant covers the rest. It may also be the case that there is no existing funding now, but funding can be applied for to support your research needs.

However, as a PhD student, none of this is your concern. You just need to ask your supervisor. If they think you need the equipment, they will then work out in consultation with the department where the money is going to come from.

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    @user366312 If you need a specific computer for your research it is not personal equipment. This might mean that it formally isn't your property and you have to return it to the lab at the end of your studies.
    – quarague
    Sep 28 at 11:35
  • As a phd student, there should be funding for a PC or laptop. It might be difficult if you already have a computer to get another one. So if you don't have anything then I would contact the person in charge of all phd students in your department to raise a complaint. If you have something already then you may be out of luck. The other option if you just need a GPU is to talk to the local IT technicians on how you can get access to a local computing cluster or would know what you need to do to apply to external computing clusters.
    – Rob
    Sep 28 at 11:39
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    @user366312 Obviously you have to go to your supervisor first. It seems like they do not agree that such a laptop is really needed for the research.
    – kejtos
    Sep 28 at 21:32
  • This is quite rare, but if the PhD is funded by a scholarship, there may be some budget for (smallish) equipment like a laptop, books, .... Oct 3 at 20:30

Yes, in general the mechanism is "ask your professor".

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    Sorry for bringing reality in your life.
    – EarlGrey
    Sep 28 at 9:55
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    The professor would not pay for it herself/himself/themselves. Either you are part of a project that is externally funded, in which case they (more often, their secretary) manages those funds. Or there are some department level funds they can access. Or ... But none of these options are open to you, they all have to go through the professor. Sep 28 at 11:23

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