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History of Development of the DHBW Mannheim

The Concept of the Dual Study System

The idea is as simple as it is ingenious. In the beginning of the 1970s, various initiators from business politics in Baden Württemberg developed a new study model. The idea was to combine an extensive vocational training with the demands of university studies to form a 'dual education system'.

The goal of the participating companies Daimler-Benz, Bosch and SEL, as well as the state government, was to counteract the shortage of skilled labor and to relieve the universities of the ever-increasing number of applicants.

The innovative study model of the Berufsakademie Baden-Württemberg (now Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg) was a practical application of knowledge and implementation in each section. The students change every three months between the theoretical phase at the university and the practical phase at their respective companies. By switching between the two, they can apply their theoretical knowledge directly on the job and both reaffirm what they have learned and bring any emerging issues to the next theory phase. The companies select the students themselves, in order to accurately fill the positions with suitable candidates.

It did not take long to see that the DHBW founders were on to something after matching a large portion of graduating high school students with businesses.

What began in 1974 as a trial-run with 160 students in Stuttgart and Mannheim is today one of the largest universities in the country with 26,000 students at 12 different locations within Baden Württemberg. This enormous growth was possible because more and more businesses and social services were convinced of the idea and advantages of dually qualified young people.

The original 50 companies from 1974 have multiplied 180 fold coming to around 9,000 companies and social services cooperating with the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW).

The Founding of the DHBW

The institution has been growing for 40 years and has developed a wide range of courses in the two areas of business and engineering. We now offer over 80 different degree courses with different specializations and the number of students is growing rapidly. In the 1980s, six more locations were founded - the only problem was the university's legal recognition was a longtime coming. The representatives of the Berufsakademie worked relentlessly to raise the status of the newest institutions to the rank of a university in the tertiary education sector of Baden-Württemberg until finally on March 1st, 2009, the transformation of the Berufsakademie into the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW) was completed. With the attainment of the university status, the DHBW received also a new and, still to date in Germany, unique organizational structure. The eight locations were united under the umbrella of a mutual committee, so that the newly created university will be orgnanized like a US-American university. With this structure, it is possible to better to create a community synergy, while maintaining the individual strengths of the respective sites and their connections to the regional businesses. 

Some challenges came with the title of university and are illustrated with the following comparison. Imagine, eight medium-sized companies with the legal form of a limited company with more than 100 employees under the umbrella of a holding company. They are then merged into one company and transformed to a stock company. This is not only to meet numerous statutory requirements, but rather it was about building new structures and filling them with life so that a convergence of the eight sites at the organizational, content and emotional level would be possible.

Besides the establishment of a functioning committee structure and its related processes, there was also a mutual structure and development plan worked out. In order to prepare the DHBW in times of the Bologna-Reform for the challenges of the future and ensure its further development, some important elements like our quality management system and the development of quality assurance in teaching and research were instituted. In 2001, the then cooperative education system, was first evaluated by the UK Open University Validation Services and successfully accredited. In 2006, a national evaluation and accreditation by the Central Evaluation and Accreditation Agency in Hannover followed. The close integration of theory and practical phases satisfied the commission, so much so, that an award from the OU will be granted upon completion of a dual study program. Many DHBW sites are also certified as family-friendly institutions, a system of accreditation is in being prepared.

Further challenges with which the members of the Foundation Board and the employees in the newly created bureau have had to deal with, are, for instance, appeals procedures, salary (stipends), appointments, handling of tuition, establishment of a central data processing and involvement of the Student Union(s) just to name a few. The joint auspices of the DHBW create the chance for an integrated presence in the newly developed corporate design (in the area of higher education communications). This defines the new brand as a visual constant to ensure the uniform appearance of the DHBW, while simultaneously providing the locations of design variations for communicating their own identity.