Since 2004 Sabine Behrenbeck has been the Head of the Higher Education Department and since 2005 is also responsible for the Excellence Initiative. Together with her team and in agreement with the German research foundation she developed the programme procedures and consulted the appliying institutions.
Within her duty are the regular programme reports as well as the further development oft he programme (second and third programme phase). As head of department she was responsible for several recommandations of the Council, concerning issues like the consequences of demographic change on the higher education system, the role and develoment oft he different types of universities in the system and is differentiation, the relation between academic and vocational training, the quality of teaching and learning and an adaquate faculty structure, academic recruitment procedures, the structure and quality of PhD-procedures and scientific integrity etc. Before joining the Council she was a programme director with the German Research Foundation (DFG) and responsible für collaborative research centers. In 1996-98 she coordinated a interdisciplinary group of schoolars at the University of Cologne with the aim to found a collaborative research center.