Building of Fachhochschule Köln (Cologne University of Applied Sciences).

Type of vocational educational institution in German-speaking countries

A Fachhochschule (German: [ˈfaxhoːxʃuːlə] ; plural Fachhochschulen), abbreviated FH, is a university of applied sciences (UAS), in other words a German tertiary education institution that provides professional education in many applied sciences and applied arts, such as engineering, technology, business, architecture, design, and industrial design.

Fachhochschulen were first founded in Germany and were later adopted in Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Cyprus, and Greece. An increasing number of Fachhochschulen are abbreviated as Hochschule, the generic term in Germany for institutions awarding academic degrees in higher education, or expanded as Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften (HAW), the German translation of "universities of applied sciences", which were primarily designed with a focus on teaching professional skills. This is reflected in the fact that the ratio of the number of students to the number of professors is significantly better than at traditional universities. However, there are also a number of subjects, such as social work or the legal sub-discipline of social law, which are traditionally underrepresented at traditional universities. In these areas, universities of applied sciences make a significant contribution to research. UAS professors are also increasingly attracting national and international third-party funding. To support their research activities, they can apply for a significant reduction in their teaching load. Swiss law calls Fachhochschulen and universities "separate but equal".[1] In terms of student numbers, universities of applied sciences are on average smaller than traditional universities. However, there are also a number of HAW, such as TH Köln or UAS Frankfurt, which can keep up with large universities in this respect.

Due to the Bologna process, universities and Fachhochschulen award legally equivalent bachelor's and master's degrees.[2] Excepting research-intensive institutions in Hesse, Saxony Anhalt, Baden-Württemberg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Bavaria [3][4] Fachhochschulen do not award doctoral degrees themselves but sometimes in cooperation with award-granting partner universities.[5] In the meantime, however, some professors at HAW also have additional habilitations and can therefore directly supervise doctoral students at their home university. This and the rule that they give priority to hiring professors with a professional career of at least three years outside the university system additional to the doctoral degree are the two major ways in which they differ from traditional universities.

Impact of the Bologna process

Due to the Bologna process, most German Universitäten and Fachhochschulen have ceased admitting students to programs leading to the traditional German Diplom (FH), but now apply the new degree standard of Bachelor's and 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.

With a Master's from either, one can now 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. Also, with the master's degree of either of the institutions a graduate can enter the höheren Dienst (higher service) career for civil servants.[2][6]

In Germany

The Fachhochschule or University of Applied Sciences and Arts is a type of German institution of higher education that emerged from the traditional Engineering Schools and similar professional schools of other disciplines. It differs from the traditional university (Universität) mainly through its more practical orientation.[7] Subjects taught at Fachhochschulen include engineering, computer science, business and management, arts and design, communication studies, social service, and other professional fields.

The traditional degree awarded at a Fachhochschule was the Diplom (FH). Coursework generally totaled six semesters (three years) of full-time study, with various options for specialization. In addition, there were one or two practical training semesters to provide hands-on experience in real working environments. The program concluded, usually after 3.5 – 4 years, with the final examination and a thesis (Diplomarbeit) which is usually an extensive project on a current practical or scientific aspect of the profession.

In an effort to make educational degrees more compatible within Europe, the German Diplom degrees were mostly phased out by 2010 and replaced by the European bachelor's and master's degree.

The Fachhochschule represents a close relationship between higher education and the employment system. Their practical orientation makes them very attractive to employers.[8]

Today, Fachhochschulen also conduct research. Research projects are either publicly funded or sponsored by industry. Nevertheless, in Germany the right to confer doctoral degrees is still generally reserved to Universitäten.[9] In 2016, however, Fulda University of Applied Sciences became the first Fachhochschule to be conferred this right for its graduate center for social sciences.[10] Several Fachhochschulen run doctoral programs where the degree itself is awarded by a partner university in Germany or abroad (similar to the doctoral programs in German research institutes, such as the Fraunhofer Society or the Max Planck Society).

There are a few universities, such as Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt and Bundeswehr University Munich, which run Fachhochschule courses in addition to their normal courses. It is also important to note that in the 1990s, some universities of applied sciences were developed from former GDR universities with the right to award doctoral and post-doctoral degrees in order to cut costs. These include, for example, the Zittau/Görlitz University of Applied Sciences. In these institutions, the classic university spirit lives on to this day.

In Austria

The Austrian government decided to establish Fachhochschulen (FH) in 1990. In the academic year of 2010/11, there were twenty-one institutions officially considered as Fachhochschulen plus a number of other providers of Fachhochschulstudiengängen with a total of over 27,000 students. About a third of the 136 Fachhochschulstudiengänge are organized as part-time courses of studies.

Name City Province Type Founded Students
Fachhochschule Burgenland Wappen der Stadt Eisenstadt Eisenstadt Burgenland Burgenland Fachhochschule 1994 1.451 1.453 +2
Fachhochschule Kärnten Wappen von Spittal an der Drau Spittal an der Drau Kärnten Kärnten Fachhochschule 1995 1.518 1.664 +146
Fachhochschule Krems Wappen von Krems Krems Niederösterreich Niederösterreich Fachhochschule 1994 1.779 1.750 -29
Fachhochschule St. Pölten Wappen von St. Pölten Sankt Pölten Niederösterreich Niederösterreich Fachhochschule 1994 1.715 1.698 -17
Fachhochschule Wiener Neustadt Wappen von Viennaer Neustadt Wiener Neustadt Niederösterreich Niederösterreich Fachhochschule 1994 2.658 2.763 +105
Theresian Military Academy Wappen von Viennaer Neustadt Wiener Neustadt Niederösterreich Niederösterreich Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 1751 324 314 -10
Fachhochschulstudiengang Oberösterreich Wappen von Wels Wels Oberösterreich Oberösterreich Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 1994 4.154 4.434 +280
FH Gesundheitsberufe Oberösterreich Wappen von Linz Linz Oberösterreich Oberösterreich Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 2010
Fachhochschule Salzburg Wappen von Puch bei Hallein Puch/Urstein Salzburg Salzburg Fachhochschule 1995 2.184 2.267 +83
Campus 02 Fachhochschule der Wirtschaft Wappen von Graz Graz Steiermark Steiermark Fachhochschule 1996 1.028 1.106 +78
FH Joanneum Wappen von Graz Graz Steiermark Steiermark Fachhochschule 1995 3.383 3.428 +45
FH Kufstein Wappen von Kufstein Kufstein Tirol Tirol Fachhochschule 1997 1.030 1.070 +40
FH Gesundheit Tirol Wappen von Innsbruck Innsbruck Tirol Tirol Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 2007 247 413 +166
Management Center Innsbruck Wappen von Innsbruck Innsbruck Tirol Tirol Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 1995 1.883 2.052 +169
Fachhochschule Vorarlberg Wappen von Dornbirn Dornbirn Vorarlberg Vorarlberg Fachhochschule 1989 1.005 1.054 +49
Fachhochschule des bfi Wien Wappen von Vienna Vienna Vienna Vienna Fachhochschule 1996 1.431 1.502 +71
Fachhochschule Technikum Wien Wappen von Vienna Vienna Vienna Vienna Fachhochschule 1994 2.654 2.939 +285
Ferdinand Porsche Fern-Fachhochschule Wappen von Vienna Vienna Vienna Vienna Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 1997 85 305 +220
FH Campus Wien Wappen von Vienna Vienna Vienna Vienna Fachhochschule 2001 2.439 3.215 +776
FHWien Wappen von Vienna Vienna Vienna Vienna Fachhochschule 1994 1.779 2.362 +583
Lauder Business School Wappen von Vienna Vienna Vienna Vienna Fachhochschul-Einrichtung 2003 253 296 +43

In Switzerland

The Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences UAS are vocational universities established in Switzerland in 1995 following the model of the German Fachhochschulen. They are called Fachhochschule in German, Haute école specialisée in French and scuola universitaria professionale (SUP) in Italian. The Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences offer third level education, continuing education, services businesses and institutions, and produce applied research activities. In 2013 there are seven public UAS approved by the Swiss Federal Council in 1998 and two private UAS approved by the Federal Council in 2005 and 2008.[11] The public UAS are run by one or more cantons.[12]

UAS have the institutional mandate to provide degree programmes (Bachelor's degrees and Master's degrees), continuing education and training, to conduct applied research and to offer services to companies and institutions. Students with a finished apprenticeship and a Fachmatura (subject Matura) and students with the Matura and a practical year in a company can access further education within the Universities for Applied Science. The UAS and their Bachelor's and Master's degrees are federally accredited.

The Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and is in charge of the accreditation of the UAS which are requested to meet the federal legislative requirements.[1] The UAS are supported by the cantons, the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI)[11] and by the Rector's Conference of Swiss Universities (swissuniversities).[13]

University of Applied Sciences Typology Establishment Recognition Note
Berner Fachhochschule (BFH) Public 1998
Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW) Public 1998
Fachhochschule Ostschweiz (FHO) Public 1998
Haute école spécialisée de la Suisse occidentale (HES-SO) Public 1998
Hochschule Luzern (HSLU, formerly known as FHZ) Public 1998 Not to be confused with University of Lucerne (unilu)
Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI) Public 1997 1998
Zürcher Fachhochschule (ZFH) Public 1998
Kalaidos Fachhochschule Private 2005
Haute école spécialisée Les Roches-Gruyère Private 2008

See also


  1. ^ a b "Federal Act on Funding and Coordination of the Swiss Higher Education Sector (Higher Education Act, HEdA, SR 414.20) Status of 1 January 2015" (PDF). SERI: Universities of Applied Sciences. Berne, Switzerland: State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, Swiss Federal Administration. 11 September 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  2. ^ a b Secretariat of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany, 10 October 2003, version of 22 September 2005
  3. ^ "Bayerische Staatszeitung". www.bayerische-staatszeitung.de. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  4. ^ "Positiv bewertete FH-Promotionen". Tagesspiegel. Retrieved 1 December 2022.
  5. ^ "Molecular imaging methods for the analysis of gene and protein expression". University of Heidelberg. Archived from the original on 28 September 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
  6. ^ Standing Conference of the Ministers of Internal Affairs of the Länder (IMK) in the Federal Republic of Germany, 7 December 2007.
  7. ^ Claudia Unseld; Gaby Reucher (13 September 2010). "University types: Universities of applied science". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  8. ^ 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)
  9. ^ "Auszüge aus dem Hochschulrahmengesetz der BRD (citings are outdated)" (PDF). German Rectors Conference. 1 December 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Promotionsrecht: Erste Fachhochschule darf Doktortitel verleihen" (in German). SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Switzerland's Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS)". Berne, Switzerland: State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI, Swiss Federal Administration. Archived from the original on 5 October 2013. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  12. ^ "Schweizerischer FH-Rat / Conseil suisse des HES" [Swiss council of UAS] (in German, French, Italian, and Romansh). Berne, Switzerland: Schweizerische Konferenz der Erziehungsdirektoren EDK CDIP CDPE CDEP. Archived from the original on 30 May 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  13. ^ "swissuniversities". Berne, Switzerland: swissuniversities. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
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