Description of the Universities of Applied Sciences
There are 167 “Fachhochschulen” (FHs) in Germany. The official English translation of “Fachhochschule” is “university of applied sciences”. This name mirrors exactly what these universities are all about: they stand for great practical relevance and focus with strong ties to applications in the working world. Those who study at a Fachhochschule are better prepared for positions in specific industries and fields than traditional university students.
Above all, FHs offer degree programmes in the fields of technology, business and management, social studies, media, and design. Those interested in pursuing a degree in medicine, education (school teachers) or law cannot study these subjects at a Fachhochschule.
The strong applied or practical focus of the universities of applied sciences is also reflected in the profile of their lecturers and professors. Many of them have already gained career experience in industry, business, or social work. This know-how qualifies and enables them to provide students with insights into the processes, working methods and expectations of companies and institutions.
Compulsory internships (as a rule students are required to complete one or two practical semesters) round out the practical application of each student’s studies.
Important elements of application-oriented teaching are:
- teaching through seminars (normally not more than 40 students in one class)
- industrial experience of the lecturers
- labs, exercises, simulations, projects, factory visits
- integrated industrial training semesters
- projects and final projects (thesis) often done at a company.
German apprenticeships: A model for Europe? BBC interview with HsKA professor Prof. Dr. Hagen Krämer