Freie Universität Berlin ranks near the top in all of the major German and international university rankings. Factors including considerably enhanced achievements have earned the university a lasting place among the top higher education institutions in the German-speaking countries.
With nine projects approved in the German Excellence Initiative, Freie Universität emerged as the most successful university in the competition during 2006 and 2007. During the second phase, in 2012 funds were committed through 2017 for the university’s future development concept “Veritas – Justitia – Libertas. International Network University” along with three clusters of excellence and seven graduate schools based at Freie Universität Berlin or with participation by Freie Universität.
The increase in external funding from 57.1 million euros in 2007 to 112 million euros in 2012 is an indicator for the positive performance development of Freie Universität Berlin.
The students, instructors, and researchers at Freie Universität include a large number of award winners, who hold distinctions including prestigious academic awards, individual honors, and prizes for theses and dissertations.
The commercialization of research results is important. It is based on collaboration with industry and an optimal start-up support. In the Berlin-Brandenburg business plan competition, Freie Universität was the most successful German university seven times out of the 13 times the competition has been held since 2006.
In 2013 Freie Universität Berlin and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin submitted their concept for establishing a university-wide founding culture, called Entrepreneurial Network University, in the "EXIST-Gründungskultur – Die Gründerhochschule" competition held by the German Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology. This concept won them recognition as one of 22 start-up universities in Germany.
For its successful equality policies, Freie Universität was certified as a family-friendly higher education institution (2007, 2010, 2014) and has earned the Total E-Quality Science Award (TEQ) numerous times (2002, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2017).
The audit berufundfamilie® is a tool to promote family-friendly human resources policy. It was set up in 1999 on behalf of the Hertie Foundation and is supported by, among others, the German Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women, and Youth.
The Total E-Quality Award – awarded by Total E-Quality Association and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research – pays tribute to universities and academc institutions for their exemplary policies encouraging gender equality.
Since 2000 Freie Universität has drastically reduced its energy consumption through comprehensive technical and structural changes in its approximately 200 properties as well as through incentives to its employees.
For its commitment to climate protection, Freie Universität has received several awards from the state initiative KlimaSchutzPartner Berlin as well as in a sustainablilty competition organized by the gas supplier, GASAG: 2003, 2008, 2010, and 2012. In May 2011 it was the first university in the German capital to sign a climate protection agreement with the State of Berlin, in which the university committed itself to further mitigation measures by 2015.
In February 2013 two cogeneration units were put into operation. They produce both heat and electricity and are high-efficiency power generation systems. The Engineering and Utilities Division expects that their use will reduce the carbon dioxide emissions of the university by 1,400 tons annually.
The “Schools at University for Climate and Energy” program organized by Freie Universität Berlin's Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), was commended in 2009/2010, 2011/2012, and 2013/2014 by the German UNESCO Commission. The project was praised as a model for the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development global education initiative.