A Fachhochschule (plural: "Fachhochschulen") or University of Applied Sciences is a German type of
university, sometimes specialized in certain topical areas (e.g. technology or business). Fachhochschulen were founded in Germanyand later adopted by Austria, Liechtensteinand Switzerland. An increasing number of Fachhochschulen are shorter named Hochschule, which is also the generic term in Germany for all institutions awarding academic degrees in higher education. Due to the bologna process, Universitäten and Fachhochschulen award legally equivalent academic Bachelor's and Master's degrees.Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, 10/10/2003, version of 22/09/2005] Fachhochschulen do not award doctoral degrees themselves, which is a major difference to traditional universities ("Universitäten").
Universities of Applied Sciences are focused on the transferability of professional skills. The
Swisslawmaker calls Fachhochschulen and Universitäten "separate but equal" [ [http://www.admin.ch/ch/d/sr/c414_71.html Federal Law on Universities of Applied Sciences] , Switzerland] . Just like more academically oriented traditional universities, the UAS are able to issue both Bachelor and Master degrees. In Switzerland, they may run doctoral programs when the degree itself is awarded by a partner institution which is allowed to, as some German Fachhochschulen also co-run doctoral programs, with doctoral degrees being awarded by the partner university. [cite web|url=http://www.ma.uni-heidelberg.de/ag/grk886/index_e.html |title=Molecular imaging methods for the analysisof gene and protein expression|accessdate=2008-06-06 |publisher= University of Heidelberg]
The "Fachhochschule" or "University of Applied Sciences and Arts" is a type of German institution of higher education that emerged in the early 1970s and differs from the traditional university ("Universität") mainly through its more application or practical orientation. This includes research and vocational aspects. Subjects taught at a Fachhochschule include engineering, computer science, business & management, arts & design, communication studies, social service and other professional fields.
The traditional degree awarded at a Fachhochschule is the Diplom (FH). Actual coursework generally totals eight semesters (four years) of full-time study with various options for specialization. In addition, there are one or two practical training terms to provide hands-on experience in a real working environment. The program concludes with the final examination and a thesis which usually is an extensive investigation of a current practical or scientific aspect of the profession.
In an effort to make educational degrees more compatible within Europe, the German Diplom (FH) degree will be phased out and replaced by the European
bachelor's and master's degreeby 2010. The Diplom (FH) is considered equivalent to a four years Bachelors degree in U.S. or UK.
The Fachhochschule represents a close relationship between higher education and the employment system. The students’ up-to-date knowledge of the field enhances their preparation for their profession. Their practical orientation makes them very attractive for employers. [Studienberatung USA in der Fachhochschule Hannover, an Education USA Student Advising Center for Lower Saxony, affiliated with the U.S. Department of State, Washington, 2006.Adapted from: G. B. Porter, Federal Republic of Germany: a Study of the Educational System of the FRG and a Guide to the Academic Placement of Students in Educational Institutions of the United States. (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, 1986)]
Today there is also research done at Fachhochschulen. The research projects are usually sponsored by industry. The German universities of applied sciences enjoy a high importance for the German industry and they have several partnerships with the local industry. Nevertheless, in Germany the right to confer
doctoral degrees is still reserved to Universitäten. [ cite web|url=http://www.hrk.de/de/download/dateien/HGesetzePromotion2003.pdf |title= Auszüge aus dem Hochschulrahmengesetz der BRD (citings are outdated)|date=2003-12-01 |publisher=German Rectors Conference|format=PDF] So some Fachhochschulen run doctoral programs where the degree itself is awarded by a partner university (like doctoral programs in German research institutes like Fraunhofer Societyor Max Planck Society).
Due to the
Bologna process, most German "Universitäten" and "Fachhochschulen" have ceased admitting students to programs leading to the traditional German "Diplom", but apply now the new EUdegree standard of Bachelorand Master's degrees. In line with the Bologna process, Bachelor's and Master's degrees awarded by both types of universities ("Universitäten" and "Fachhochschulen") are legally equivalent. However, the "Diplom (FH)" is legally equivalent to a bachelor's degree, while the Diplom awarded by a "Universität" is at Master's level.
With a Master's from either it is now possible to enter a doctoral degree program at a "Universität", but a graduate with a Bachelor's degree from either is normally unable to proceed directly to a doctoral degree program in Germany (US schools only require a Bachelor degree for admission to doctoral programs, but require additional coursework for students lacking a Master). Also, with the Master's degree of either of the institutions a graduate can enter the "höheren Dienst" (higher service) career for civil servants. [Standing Conference of the Ministers of Internal Affairs of the Länder (IMK) in the Federal Republic of Germany, 07/12/2007.]
Austrian government decided to establish "Fachhochschulen" in 1990. In the academic year of 2004/05, there were 18 institutions officially considered as "Fachhochschulen" plus a number of other providers of "Fachhochschulstudiengängen" with a total of 25,554 students. About a third of the 136 "Fachhochschulstudiengänge" are organized as part-time courses of studies.
Institute of technology
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