Future Challenges of the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 15:00
Location: Hörsaal 34 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Elmar SCHUELL, Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Salzburg, Austria
The Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) are a comparatively small, but fast-developing part of the Austrian higher education system. Like their older siblings, the research universities, the UAS are not only experiencing a time of rather rapid change, but are also confronted with, at least partly, contradictory expectations. This increases the need for a wellfounded knowledge basis for decision-making, especially when it comes to long-term, strategic decisions which are usually requested in the context of organisational development. Against this background a study on the future challenges of the Austrian higher education sector has been conducted, which focused on the special situation of the Austrian UAS. The paper draws on the findings of this study and will (i) discuss the theories of neo-institutionalism and organizational analysis which proved to be able to explain the past development of the UAS-sector to a large extent, and which therefore might be a useful starting point for anticipations about its future development, too, (ii) present the findings of a trend analysis which aimed at identifying and evaluating those societal changes which are expected to be most relevant for the future development of the Austrian UAS, (iii) imbed the specific situation of the Austrian UAS in an European context - the UAS-sectors of other European countries prove to have partly different approaches to similar issues. Even though the Austria UAS sector is quite specific, one can assume that the findings of the study are relevant for other higher Education sectors as well, (iv) Finally, the paper presents three explorative scenarios for the future development of the Austrian UAS sector which have been developed inductively on the base of the findings.