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News of 31.01.2019

A strong impetus for academic continuing education

As an element of lifelong learning, academic continuing education is an important aspect of training skilled workers in Germany. This was referred to recently by the German Council of Science and Humanities, which also underlined the fact that there is still plenty of need for development in this area. This makes initiatives such as “Advancement through Education: Open Universities” all the more important. Within this Federal Government programme, around 60 universities and universities of applied sciences from across the country are working actively to develop part-time study programmes and courses designed for professionals. A recent study undertaken by the CHE Centre for Higher Education demonstrates that the supported projects are highly productive.

According to the study, 347 academic continuing education programmes were designed and tested within 46 projects that receiving funding in the Federal Government programme “Advancement through Education: Open Universities” over the past four years. 85 of these programmes have already been implemented, and are now a firm part of the continuing education programmes offered by the participating universities and universities of applied sciences. There is a discernible trend towards shorter formats such as certificate courses and programmes intended for specific target groups.

Although most participants are employees wishing to gain further qualifications whilst in employment, the programmes are also popular among returners and people with family responsibilities. The continuing education programmes meet the need for spatial and temporal flexibility, e.g. through the increased use of digital learning and teaching formats. Moreover, participants can often have the professional skills they have acquired transferred to these academic continuing education programmes. And yet participants are very hesitant to make use of this opportunity.

These are the findings of CHE’s analysis of the project results to date. The current analysis reveals that changes have occurred between 2016 and 2018. The aspects examined in depth included the heterogeneity of the target groups and their different needs and demands; the demands placed on the teaching staff, having to strike a balance between theory and practice; and the extent to which the results of the work undertaken in the higher education institutions (HEIs) have become firmly integrated in their systems. The internal and external challenges faced by the day-to-day work of these projects were also addressed. The main internal problem areas involve staff shortages and staff turnover, and the firm integration of these (academic) courses within the HEIs. As the projects see it, the external framework conditions that take centre stage are full costing in academic continuing education, the vague legal framework, and the problems involved in counting responsibilities towards the teaching load.

CHE is one of four members of the scientific research team of the Federal Government programme “Advancement through Education: Open Universities”, commissioned by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). This consortium is led by the FernUniversität at Hagen. The other two members are the University of Oldenburg and the Technical University of Dortmund . Within its project progress analysis, CHE periodically collects empirical data in a bid to identify developments within the funding programme and to make the findings accessible to the general public.

The study can be downloaded from the website of the supporting scientific research team of the Federal Government programme using the link at the top Right.

Further Information can be found in the publication stated below.

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Sigrun Nickel
Sigrun Nickelmehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-23
Fax: +49 5241 9761-40
Petra Bischofmehr
Phone: +49 5241 9761-42

Project partners
TU Dortmundmehr
FernUni Hagenmehr
Universität Oldenburgmehr

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