Current Trends and Future Challenges of the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 16:30
Oral Presentation
Elmar SCHUELL, Salzburg University of Applied Sciences, Austria
As in most European countries, the higher education system of Austria is characterized by a binary system consisting of Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS). The ideal type distinction between the two links the older Universities with the unity of research and teaching, with basic research and with a general scientific orientation, while practice orientation, applied research and a focus on professional education are ascribed to the much younger Universities of Applied Sciences. However, the developments of the last decades led to a situation that corresponds with this notion only to a certain extent. In fact, the dynamic changes experienced in both sectors create the necessity to re-evaluate their individual profiles and the binary divide.

This background of blurring boundaries between the two sectors was the starting point for a series of interlinked foresight studies on the perspectives and challenges of the Austrian Universities of Applied Sciences. The contribution presents main results of these studies and discusses them in conjunction with the outcomes of the process 'Future University' launched by the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy of Austria in 2016. More presicely, the contribution includes

  • a basic description of the higher education landscape in Austria;
  • selected results of a literature-based analysis focusing on the trends that affect the Austrian UAS and the environment in which they have to act;
  • main results of a delphi study which aimed at identifying those future developments that the most relevant actors and stakeholders of the Austrian UAS sector considered as probable;(probable futures) and those developments that they considered as preferable (preferred futures);
  • a short summary of three explorative scenarios which integrated the individual results of the aforementioned research steps, as well as an evaluation of their validity in the light of the most recent political developments.