Jörg Dräger: "We can no longer afford to be isolated”
The CHE Centre for Higher Education is calling for a more open higher education concept in Germany. It is only through an open concept that higher education institutions (HEIs) can be shaped in a way that leaves them able to respond to demographic and social challenges. Other countries are already farther ahead in this respect, as a current CHE study shows.
The German higher education landscape is facing complex challenges: the student body is becoming increasingly heterogeneous and the number of prospective students is increasing steadily. At the same time, demographic developments are making it increasingly more difficult for HEIs in sparsely populated areas to maintain their current study offers.
In its latest report "This is also a higher education institution?!", the CHE Centre for Higher Education has analysed how HEIs in other countries are responding to these challenges. Report authors Lucas Bischoff and Ulrich Müller use eight international examples to illustrate how both existing and newly founded HEIs have been able to meet these changing requirements successfully, flexibly and in their own way.
The report shows how, in many countries, new, differentiated forms of higher education are emerging on the "edges" of the local higher education system. Two examples of this are the National Hispanics University at San Jose, which is particularly orientated towards the needs and previous knowledge of students from Latin-American countries, or the University of the South Pacific, which provides higher education for the sparsely populated South Seas region.
It is not only because of restrictive higher education legislation that tailor-made offers such as these are not easy to implement in Germany. Here, the term “university” is protected by law, which means that all newly founded universities have to be accredited either by federal states or by the German Council of Science and Humanities. CHE Managing Director Jörg Dräger explains: "In Germany, people are sceptical about anything that deviates from the traditional full-university concept, but we can no longer afford to be isolated if higher education is becoming the rule and diversity among students normal."
Dräger says: "In the cases of universities of applied sciences and universities of co-operative education (a combination of classroom-based education and work experience), politics has already shown in the past decades that it can respond to amended framework conditions with new types of HEIs. Rather than a new HEI type, what we now need, however, is a more open higher education concept that also embraces innovative profiles – naturally with appropriate quality assurance and transparency."
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