Good dual study manual
The CHE Centre for Higher Education has just published a manual containing comprehensive strategies and instruments for developing quality in dual study programmes. The free downloadable online publication focuses on enhancing cooperation between the two learning locations – HEIs and companies – and on linking theory and practice in higher education.
The measures described are embedded in an analysis of up-to-date data and discussions related to the transfer opportunities between vocational training and the academic world. The manual comes with a separate volume containing work material, which is also available on the internet. The work material includes questionnaires, check lists, model agreements and other useful documents. Users can therefore now benefit from a total of 250 pages of compact information on developing quality in dual study programmes.
The volume “Qualitätsentwicklung im dualen Studium. Ein Handbuch für die Praxis” (Quality development in dual study programmes. A manual for practice) is based on the key findings of the “Quality Network for Dual Study Programmes”. This network, initiated by the Stifterverband (Association for the Promotion of Science and Humanities) in 2013, was coordinated by the CHE during its two-year existence. In this context, ten German HEIs developed responses to various “quality challenges” surrounding dual study programmes. These range from strategic planning to the design of teaching/learning and cooperation processes to evaluation. In this connection, cross-cutting issues such as the recruitment and development of teaching and administrative staff or internationalisation and marketing are also addressed. In this way, processes were developed by HEIs for HEIs, tailored specifically towards dual study programmes.
One particular reason for publishing the manual was the rapid growth in the number of dual study programmes, from around 500 in 2004 to some 1,500 in 2014, which led to questions being raised as to the quality of the programmes on offer. The occasionally difficult collaboration between HEIs and corporate partners and the failure to dovetail the content of vocational and academic training are heavily criticised. In such cases, it is the students who bear the brunt of these deficiencies, causing them to feel torn between theory and practice. This is compounded by the fact that dual study is regarded as being an elitist option for high performers. Indeed, only four percent of first-year students in Germany embarked on a dual study programme in 2012. Against this backdrop, there are growing calls for making this form of study accessible to broader sectors of society.
This was also the case at the final conference of the Quality Network for Dual Study Programmes, held in Berlin on 29 September 2015. The idea of expanding the number of study programmes that establish a close link, to a greater or lesser extent, between vocational training and the academic world met with great approval among the 200 participants from HEIs, companies, the political sector and trade unions. However, the participants were divided on the question as to whether dual study programmes must always involve an apprenticeship and practice orientation. Executive and continuing education study programmes may also constitute good alternatives. For this reason, any expansion should not concentrate on dual study programmes alone, but also on other hybrid educational opportunities at the interface between science and the world of work.