While the academic profile of a university of applied sciences in Germany may once have been simply an expression of the conventional division between the traditional universities and those higher education institutions with a more technical or vocational focus, today’s universities of applied sciences have developed profiles that reflect the much broader range of challenges and expectations with which the modern education landscape now deals.
The universities of applied sciences contribute directly to solving some of the most pressing problems in today’s society. They produce young skilled graduates, foster regional development, work together with industrial partners to transform research results into marketable innovations, they leverage the potential of young people from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds, offer continuous and further education initiatives for those without a university education and they strengthen and encourage civic participation and community development.
Against a backdrop of ceaseless change, it is clear that no single institution is in a position to meet all of the demands and challenges mentioned above. Delivering high-quality and internationally respected teaching and research is something that can only be achieved by the higher education system as a whole. As a result, the German higher education landscape has over the last decade or so been involved in a process of differentiation in which the institutions within the HE sector have been obliged to define their core missions, to establish their own characteristic areas of specialization and to make intelligent use the available resources. Regional aspects and demographic change both play a significant role in this regard.
Universities and other institutions of higher education are now focusing strategically on their core competencies, with the result that they are automatically developing their own individual academic profiles that highlight their particular strengths and distinctive appeal.