New HRK brochure "Committed Universities: innovative models for bachelor degree courses

27. May 2014

As German universities prepare a growing number of students for life in an increasingly complex working environment, the HRK's nexus project presents a new brochure entitled "Die engagierten Hochschulen – Forschungsstark, praxisnah und gesellschaftlich aktiv" ("Comitted Universities – strong in research, skills-focused and active in society"). The reports from 28 universities do not paint a uniform picture of identical solutions but describe very individual approaches which are as varied and as creative as are the universities and the cultures of their various disciplines.

"The brochure shows the scope that a bachelor degree course offers – provided we do not overload it," said HRK Vice-President Prof. Dr. Holger Burckhart, who introduced the publication today in Cologne at a conference organised by the HRK nexus project on the theme of "Service Learning – Lernen durch Engagement" ("Service Learning – Learning through Commitment"). In 'Service Learning', which is an area of focus in the brochure, students go from the universities into charitable organisations where they use their specialist knowledge to solve problems. It is an approach practised by a growing number of universities, said Professor Burckhart, and it not only reinforces the practical elements of the course, but also provides clear evidence that universities are not just places for research but also social spaces – with good teaching providing the link between them.

The 80-page publication also offers examples of innovative ways to structure the crucial initial phase of studies and of learning methods that will help ensure a successful career later on. Other reports describe models for research-based learning, whereby students already have contact with the university laboratories in the early semesters of their course. The brochure focuses deliberately on bachelor degree courses.

According to Professor Burckhart, these examples show that the universities are counteracting the "schoolification" of which they have frequently been accused with original measures at the initial phase of an academic education. Professor Burckhart called for the universities to be allowed more freedom in the design of the courses, saying "The universities should have responsibility for teaching and formal requirements should be relaxed."

The brochure (83 pages) is available for download in the right column.
A print copy can be ordered at