From Academic Kids

A Fachhochschule (plural: Fachhochschulen) or "University of Applied Sciences" in Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein and Switzerland is something like a polytechnic.


Instead of some verbatim translation of the term Fachhochschule, the German Fachhochschulen adopted the extremely loose translation University of Applied Sciences which is an adequate description of what they teach (however, they do not have the powers to award doctoral degrees, which would be an argument against the "university" translation).

The Fachhochschulen were founded in the 1970s, usually by re-arranging pre-existing educational institutes, like schools of engineering, building academies or polytechnicals. Their teaching focus is, as the English name implies, on the practical application of science, while the traditional universities focus on scientific studies.

Since their founding a "war" has been going on on many levels, including politics, academia, but often also between individual teachers and students of traditional universities and universities of applied sciences. The universities of applied sciences seek recognition as being "real" universities, while traditional universities insist on being the only "real" universities. This has resulted in rather strange effects, e.g. that professors at traditional universities have started to use the title Prof. (univ.) to distinguish themselves from professors at universities of applied sciences. This habit is perceived as being somewhere in the range of silly to arrogant. Another strange effect is that the Fachhochschulen are sometimes called equal but different in political documents.

Many shots have been exchanged between the two camps in the past. The last open battle was going on when the first degrees with the international titles Bachelor and Master were introduced at German universities of both kinds. Traditional universities tried to confine universities of applied science to bachelor studies only. Universities of applied sciences wiggled out of this by prolonging some curricula to fulfil the requirements for Master studies in Germany.

In practice, universities of applied sciences are well established for at least two decades. For example, the vast majority of German engineers are educated at universities of applied sciences.

Entry salaries in the private sector for graduates from a university of applied science are lower than that of graduates from a traditional university. The difference usually blurs after a few years of work experience, when payment is based on experience and performance instead of "paper value".

The biggest remaining obstacle is the German government's hiring and salary policy for civil servants. Two different career paths exist for graduates. Graduates from a university of applied science join the career path gehobener Dienst (roughly: above average service) and are paid significant less than graduates from traditional universities. The later follow the höherer Dienst (roughly higher service) career path. In fact, the highest salary of the gehobener Dienst is in the range of the entrance salary of the höherer Dienst. In theory, someone at the end of the gehobener Dienst career path can enter the höherer Dienst career path. In practice, this is extremely rare. Similar restrictions apply to military service in the Bundeswehr.


Template:Sect-stub The Austrian government decided to establish Fachhochschulen in 1990. In the academic year of 2004/05, there were 18 institutions officially considered as Fachhochschulen plus a number of other providers of Fachhochschulstudiengängen with a total of 25,554 students. About a third of the 136 Fachhochschulstudiengänge are organized as part-time courses of studies.

See also

Technical collegede:Fachhochschule zh:应用技术大学


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