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PRELIMINARY Session Overview
Paper Session 2A: Higher vocational education
Wednesday, 02/Feb/2022:
3:30pm - 5:00pm

Location: Room 1

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Higher Vocational Education in Germany and Canada – a comparison of Hybrid Qualifications


University of Konstanz, Germany

Shortages of skilled workers as well as overqualification are currently shaping the Canadian labor market since higher education is perceived as the “king’s way” into employment and vocational education and training (VET) remains marginal. These meritocratic patterns promote the persistent negative stigma of low value and status of VET in Canada’s society and economy. In consequence, practice-oriented VET programs have been established over recent years in the postsecondary education sector. A similar shift towards university studies can also be observed in Germany, even though this country has traditionally been categorized as the “model apprenticeship country”. The underlying didactic principle of these concepts, called "hybridity", combines vocational and academic learning. Based on literature research and a preliminary typology this presentation uses a comparative approach to provide a framework for classifying hybrid qualifications in order to determine aspects that enable the successful implementation of hybrid qualifications.

The findings might indicate that in the case of Baden-Württemberg the dual universities have copied the structure of dual apprenticeships by creating an “academic dual system”. Therefore, they represent a kind of “premium apprenticeship” and receive a similarly high perception as apprenticeships within the dual system. In Canada, the concept of “Cooperative Education” was established in post-secondary education in order to promote its visibility and status within the overall education system. Therefore a practice-orientated curriculum was integrated into college-based as well as university education. The analysis shows similarities but also differences regarding the motives and realisation patterns due to cultural differences in both countries, which may originate in the general structure and esteem of VET, the relationship between vocational and academic pathways or the role of the economy. The presentation tries to identify the respective main motivation of educational policy underlying these (new) approaches to make higher education more "vocational".

Colleges of Higher Education in Transition. Perceptions of and Reactions to Changes in the Swiss Education System and the Trends towards Tertiarisation, Internationalisation and Academisation

Caroline Madeleine SUTER

Universität Zürich, Switzerland

Since the entry into force of the Vocational and Professional Education and Training Act in 2004, colleges of higher education (CHE) have been part of the professional education sector (tertiary level) (PET). The positioning of CHE in the Swiss education system has changed over the last 30 years due to developments inherent in the system, which in turn have been driven by the trends of tertiarisation, internationalisation and academisation. The reforms triggered by these developments led to consequential problems for the CHE, which have been exacerbated by their shift from the continuing education system to the formal education system: The CHE began to reposition themselves in the education system and distinguish themselves from other educational offers. Initial findings from the research project show that the professional organisations and social partners, which develop and support the framework curricula of the courses offered at the CHE, perceive different challenges depending on the sector. Accordingly, they react differently to changes in the education system and the trends mentioned. Most notably, they align the programmes they are responsible for with the sector-specific functions for the sector-specific education pathways.

This paper focuses on the development of PET from the perspective of professional organisations, using the example of changes in CHE programmes. The sectors of business, health and tourism serve as case studies. The data comes from the research project “Höhere Fachschulen: Zwischen Higher Education und Berufsbildung – Entwicklungsdynamik, Zustandsanalyse und Perspektiven”, funded by the SERI, which has been ongoing since 2018 at the Chair of Historical Research in Education and Governance of the Education System at the University of Zurich. It involves source analyses of the publication organs of as well as expert interviews with the relevant professional organisations. The evaluation is carried out using document analysis and political discourse analysis.

Motives for or against the implementation of the recognition of prior learning from a professional education institution’s perspective

Patrizia Salzmann, Christine Hämmerli, Carmen Baumeler, Sonja Engelage, Amélie Deschenaux

Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET

In view of rapid technological and economic changes, lifelong learning has gained sig-nificant importance. The orientation of vocational and professional education and train-ing towards lifelong learning and the development of models for the recognition of prior learning (RPL) are important education policy goals of the Confederation and the can-tons. RPL facilitates social and economic integration and opens opportunities for further educational careers and mobility. Simultaneously, RPL should make better use of the existing potential in the education system to alleviate skilled worker shortages. Nonethe-less, it appears that not all professional education institutions (PEIs) implement RPL equally. This study aims to determine the differences in institutional practices concern-ing RPL.

In this contribution, we will present results from a national study on the RPL at PEIs. In the Swiss education system, PEIs offer study programs at the tertiary level. Considering the theory of educational governance, we investigate the following research question: What are the motives for or against RPL implementation from an organizational perspec-tive?

To answer our research question, we performed document analyses of the national regu-lations and conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with school principals and study program leaders at selected PEIs, using a maximum variation sampling strategy. To analyze the interviews, we performed a qualitative content analysis.

Four main motives for or against RPL implementation were identified: legal require-ments, the wish to contribute to society in subject areas with workforce shortages, de-velopments in the education system, and benefits from RPL implementation for the PEIs themselves. The results showed that RPL implementation depends on factors relat-ed to the PEIs environment, factors at the institutional level, and factors at the individu-al study program level. Therefore, different institutional logics must be considered when promoting RPL.

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