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Dual Qualification in Austria
WIFI Academy courses
  (back to index of schemes)


(1) National framework of the scheme; 
(2) Major features of the scheme;
(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme;
(4) Organisational implications of the scheme;
(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect . 
Info unit 1 of 5 
Austria: WIFI Academy courses

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(1) National framework of the scheme

The Austrian education system is characterised by a variety of possibilities offered particularly at post-compulsory level. It consists of the following areas: pre-school education, school-based education (general as well as vocational), apprenticeship training, study courses at Fachhochschule (i.e. non-university institutions in higher education), university studies, and vocationally-oriented programmes in adult education and training. This includes vocational colleges at upper secondary level (Berufsbildende Höhere Schulen – BHS), which prepare students for direct entry into skilled jobs and, at the same time, for starting  university studies in a branch-related field.
    Austrian vocational education and training for adults is offered at public and private institutions of further education, schools, universities, and in the workplace. Within this spectrum, the WIFI Academies represent a step initiated by industry in the direction of further vocational education and career-related upgrading of skilled workers. It is a new way to combine vocational and general education. The dual qualification (continuing vocational education and specialised access to university) increases the vertical mobility within the system of education and reduces the gap between vocational and general education.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Monika Thum-Kraft
Info unit 2 of 5 
Austria: WIFI Academy courses

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(2) Major features of the scheme

Since 1991, courses have been organised at WIFI Academies all over Austria. These are institutions of vocational adult education that are run by the Austrian Economic Chambers. The subjects offered there cover the industrial and technical as well as commercial fields. A WIFI Academy course comprises six terms of part-time study alongside skilled work and it is made up, according to the subject field, of between 1,200 and 1,800 teaching units. Intermediate qualifications (with exams and certificates) may be obtained at certain points of the courses. 
    After six terms of tuition, a diploma and the degree of Fachtechniker (graduate of a technical college) or Fachwirt (graduate of a business college) may be obtained. A degree from a WIFI Academy serves as a preparation for the instructor’s examination, which is an essential prerequisite for the training of apprentices and which also represents a special module of further education for business persons and managers. 
    The possibility of completing a higher education entrance exam (Studienberechtigungsprüfung), or now a vocational matriculation (Berufsreifeprüfung), safeguards the possibility of progression from apprenticeship training to university education. This in turn makes the decision to start apprenticeship training more attractive. The Berufsreifeprüfung affords unrestricted access to higher education, in contrast to the Higher Education Entrance Exam which facilitates  subject-related university access only. From 1995, general education contents were offered in parallel to subject-specific contents throughout the programmes. Starting in the autumn of 1998, however, subject-specific contents are offered in the first two years and general education in the third year. This increasingly addresses the target group of Matura holders, who have already completed general education to university entrance standard, and who are now entitled to complete the Academy courses after two years.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Monika Thum-Kraft
Info unit 3 of 5 
Austria: WIFI Academy courses

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(3) Educational concepts underlying the scheme

All the WIFI Academies have a dual orientation: firstly towards the supply of technical knowledge enabling the student to satisfy vocational needs, and secondly towards the advancement of general knowledge. All courses at the WIFI Academies are divided into four sections according to content: vocational qualifications, fundamentals of management, personal development, and general subjects. Besides traditional seminars, the WIFI Academies try to involve students in active learning, for instance in laboratory work, teamwork and projects. Due to the curricular layout, there are only limited opportunities for students to organise their studies independently, e.g. by interrupting their courses after having obtained an intermediate qualification and continuing later on.
    The promotion of the students’ key qualifications is a consequence of the WIFI Academies’ curricular organisation. Participants must possess a high degree of flexibility and be prepared to study hard for all career-related evening and weekend programmes. Achieving success after six terms of continuous training serves as a test of their staying power and ability to learn. The ability to communicate and work in teams is not only achieved in theoretical instruction but also practised in all sections of the course by means of discussions, teamwork, and project work.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Dr Monika Thum-Kraft
Info unit 4 of 5 
Austria: WIFI Academy courses

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(4) Organisational implications of the scheme

The concept of the WIFI Academies has been developed on a completely new and independent basis, and can, therefore, not be regarded as an addition or extension to the existing educational facilities. However, links have been established between the WIFI Academies and other institutions in order to provide progression in educational pathways. For instance, general arrangements are in force between the WIFI Academies and institutions of higher education for the provision of university-access qualifications.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Monika Thum-Kraft
Info unit 5 of 5 
Austria: WIFI Academy courses

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(5) Evidence of the scheme's effect

In the autumn of 1991, 23 WIFI Academy courses were started. Since then already more than 1,500 Academy graduates have successfully completed the six-semester courses. At present, 894 students participate in 53 programmes.
    In a questionnaire, WIFI Academy students gave their reasons for joining the course: more than 70% emphasised personal development through improvements in the capacity for teamwork, the ability to achieve independent solutions to technical problems, communication and understanding as well as learning in general.  Additionally, they emphasised development of job-related knowledge and skills, general education, and the acquisition of precision in self-expression. For 50% of the participants, the acquisition of the university-entry qualification was an important reason for attending the courses. Immediately after completing the WIFI Academy courses, more than half of the students assessed the practical increase in their knowledge as extremely high. About two thirds of the graduates would again undertake such a programme, because they considered time and financial investments well spent and worthwhile.

Sources
INTEQUAL 
Contact

Monika Thum-Kraft

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  First set up 23/08/1998
Latest update: 03/03/1999
 Contact: Sabine Manning
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