A double graduate life in Germany
Two of the country's universities are twinning graduate study with valuable experience in the world of work
At Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg and the University of Applied Sciences Anhalt, dual IT degree courses offer a win-win situation: firms can attract and retain expertly schooled young graduates, while the graduates of the dual degree courses are awarded both a university degree and a certificate from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. And the prospects for their professional future are also excellent. Otto von Guericke University cooperates with 25 companies in which the students complete training at the same time as their studies, a unique model in Germany. Some of the degree courses have rarity value, such as computer visualistics – this interdisciplinary field of study was first created at the University of Magdeburg in 1996.
Best future prospects for the students
The dual degree, explains Course Director, Professor, Dr Hans-Knud Arndt, offers students fine future prospects: “They not only become familiar with the higher academic level, but also with everyday life and the structures that have developed over time. In the field of IT in particular, they get to see how the technical equipment is used and also learn how to cooperate with people who aren’t from the world of academia.”
The advantage offered to companies by this model is, of course, the opportunity to access new graduates. It is also possible for them to influence the contents of the dual degree course and help to shape the training profile.
Studying without a part-time job – dual study ensures a livelihood
The degree course lasts for eight semesters and, rather than resting, the students spend their lecture-free periods in training at the company. After three years they sit exams for a certificate from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Four young people currently undertaking the dual degree course at the University of Magdeburg are training as IT specialists at Dornheim Medical Images GmbH, a provider of software, hardware and system solutions.
“The advantage offered to companies by this model is, of course, the opportunity to access new graduates. It is also possible for them to influence the contents of the dual degree course and help to shape the training profile.”
“One of the main reasons our company is participating in the dual degree course is to secure well-trained professionals who fit in with our company and are involved in our business-related processes and topics right from the start,” explains Dornheim’s Kathleen Lippelt. So far, all of the students have been given jobs at the company following graduation. Kathleen also envisages advantages for the students on the dual degree course: “The degree course has a far higher level of practical relevance and offers the students enjoyable work right from the start. They get a very good introduction into the world of work and have a better chance of getting a job when they graduate. And the dual degree course naturally has financial benefits. The students don’t have to look for a part-time job and can earn their keep in the area they find interesting straight away.”
The Anhalt University of Applied Sciences also offers two bachelor’s and two master’s dual degree courses in IT at its Köthen campus. The ‘specialist communication – software localisation’ course covers both languages and IT. “It is naturally the case that every consumer wants to have the software in their own language, whether it is for instruction manuals, for software in the medical field or for banks,” says Professor R. Uta Seewald-Heeg.
At Anhalt’s Department of Computer Science and Languages, ‘dual’ is equivalent to a sandwich course, in which the students don’t gain a vocational qualification, but cooperating companies agree to offer participating students a supervised industrial internship in their fifth semester. Professor Uta Seewald-Heeg says: “The dual students get the opportunity to apply their knowledge straight away, and the contents of the course are more relevant, because the students have gained practical experience of the background contexts in the companies at which they work. This makes it easier for them to gain an understanding of specific topics.”
The university cooperates with companies from Halle, Leipzig and Berlin, and the level of cooperation is strong. Many young people have shown interest, but the number of placements available in companies is limited. “We need even more partner companies,” says the professor.