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News vom 16.12.2009

Quality standards promote permeability between professional training and academic education

Permeability between higher education and professional training is a key topic, but it remains a difficult one. There is often a lack of trust between professional training and academic education in terms of the quality of abilities and skills taught. This lack of trust becomes evident for example in difficulties of admission onto a study programme without the necessary school leaving certificate that enables entry into higher education, or accreditation by universities of work carried out in the course of professional activities. Jointly agreed standards can help here. A new study by the CHE – Centre for Higher Education Development and Prognos AG for Germany’s Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology shows that the conditions for this are good as higher education institutions and professional training institutes (technical colleges) are both similarly active in the area of quality assurance.

The study compiled by the CHE and Prognos AG compares both quality management systems and instruments in professional training and academic education for the first time. The topic is particularly important given the implementation of the German Qualifications Framework that is currently taking place and is intended to connect all degrees in the national education system in such a way that every education level can be reached via the various education or training routes.

The key results of the study are:

1. Professional training and academic education both have different quality assurance instruments. Quality assurance in the field of professional training is determined predominantly by nationwide administrative procedures, whereas the higher education sector inspects and develops the quality of its study programmes on a heavily individual and profile-related basis.
2. The trend in both professional training and academic education is to implement comprehensive, institutional quality assurance systems, including strategic steering systems that ensure continuing development of the quality of educational offers.
3. The creation of a national quality control system across the educational sector, e.g. in the form of an accreditation procedure, is not helpful here as the objectives of professional training and academic education are far too different.
4. Quality assurance can contribute to the reliability of educational degrees but it cannot assess equivalence. Mutual trust in the quality of the respective other form of education can however contribute to promoting permeability between professional training and academic education. The German Qualifications Framework offers the opportunity to agree on jointly defining the minimum requirements for the quality of the different degrees as well as their assurance via appropriate instruments and management systems.
5. The strength of professional education is making a person employable, which is also underlined by the study. The analysis of educational return show that, depending on the professional field, graduates of professional training were at least as successful as graduates from higher education institutions. Promoting employability has also become more important in the higher education sector as part of the Bologna process. Due to the increasing number of dual study programmes and universities of co-operative education, there is increasing overlap between and competition in professional training and academic education. Against this background, a basic re-definition of the relationship between professional training and academic education is necessary in Germany. We recommend a national debate to handle these changes efficiently.

The publication is only avaible in German.


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