Cooperative State University Baden-Wuerttemberg (DHBW)


Cooperative State University Baden-Wuerttemberg

Name of the institution(s)

Cooperative State University Baden-Wuerttemberg (DHBW)

Qualification level concerned



Country concerned



Mission/Role of Professional Higher Education


Research, Development & Innovation



Multi-stakeholders cooperation, work-based learning, innovation, world of work


For the different types of PHE institutions in Germany – the Fachhochschulen, Duale Hochschulen, Berufsakademien und Fachschulen – the mandate bestowed by the legislator is to provide professional training to students in away that directly involves the world of work. The characteristic features of the design of the courses of study and the organisation of teaching and studying are the particular emphasis on practical application and the closer links with the requirements of the world of work.

The DHBW (Cooperative State University Baden-Wuerttemberg) focuses on employability through enabling students to have job related experiences in half of their study time. The model foresees that half of the study is spent in theory phases in one of the nine academies of the university as well as half of the study time in so called “practice studies” in one of the dual partner organisations, from the public or private sector. For both learning environments there is a curriculum and practice studies are actually viewed and experienced as studies rather than pure work experiences.

The objectives and outcomes of the curriculum are focused on enhancing the students competences for their respective practice fields.

Work placements provide an opportunity to gain an insight into the working world and establish contact with prospective employers. In many cases the topics of Diplomarbeiten or Bachelorarbeiten (dissertations) derive from problems that students have encountered in the practical semesters.

The DHBW (Cooperative State University Baden-Wuerttemberg) is currently working with more than 9000 dual partner organisations which are hosting the students during their practice study phases. The partner organisations by law are members of the university and constitute one of the universities status groups, equally represented like the students and the professors within the universities’ governance schemes.

Within the governance scheme of the DHBW there is a specific role which is dedicated to maintaining the partnerships with the dual partner organisations, which is the head of study programs. This is a professor with a specific  time budget allocated entirely to the partnership building and maintenance between the university and the dual Partner organisation.

The development of curricula at the DHBW for study programs is accomplished by expert groups which are equally composed by professors from the university and representatives of the dual partner organizations of the Baden-Wuerttemberg Cooperative State University. The curricula and study programs are then presented and discussed within the universities’ faculty committees, which in turn are also composed equally of representatives of the world of work. Afterwards they are presented for decision within the universities central committees for final decision.

The DHBW senate is holding a majority of professors while the university council is holding a majority of elected dual partner organization representatives.

At the DHBW learning outcomes, formulated as competence descriptions are always composed of action competences, personal skills and competences and social competences within the universities academic program frameworks. They are the result of discussions and real life interactions between the world of work which is contributing their experiences and expectations and the university’s academic representatives.

Through the change of learning environment students are also faced with different challenges they have to cope with which go far beyond the usual study experience but present an environment in which they have to cope with challenges from the world of work.

The dual model is focusing on practice integrated studies which differentiates the model from practice enriched studies of other higher education institutions. Students are at the same time employers and students, change their study environment every 3 month and have a clear curriculum for the theory phases of study as well as a framework curriculum for the practice phases of study which are – by law – seen as practice integrated study phases rather than work phases.

Moreover, there is a form of collaborative applied research within the DHBW which has been developed throughout the last years and which is detecting research problems from the world of work and make them core of the universities research agenda. Significant funding is going into seed funding collaborative research partnerships which are usually conducting their research in a two year cycle and then try to widen the scope and present greater research proposals for more funding to national and international funding agencies. In a specific format called cooperative research, the dual practice partners and the universities professors from consortia in which problems from the world of work are researched. Funding comes from both partners and constitutes a commons grant practice. Usually the projects are lasting for a period of two years and results show that a deep integration of university representatives into research processes of the world of work and vice-versa can be accomplished.

The degrees, provided that they satisfy certain criteria, they are covered by the EU directive on a general system for the recognition of higher education diplomas. These criteria include, above all, entrance requirements and the qualifications of the teaching staff, as well as certain institutional requirements in terms of the range of training on offer and cooperation between the Studienakademie (study institution) and training company.

According to the state laws for higher education of the state of Baden-Wurttemberg , the University Council of the DHBW (Cooperative State University Baden-Wurttemberg) is the highest decision making body. It is composed of representatives of the world of work. In addition the faculty boards of the 4 faculties are equally composed of representatives of the world of work and of academic representatives.  In the Universities Senate the Professors have the majority.

Institutional strategies are crafted and decided upon in those committees.

State law for Higher Education Baden Wurttemberg:

– The dual partners/ practice partners are by law MEMBERs of the university, not partners or customers.

– The dual Partners are by law represented in the university’s committees

– The dual Partners are obliged to accept a framework curriculum for the study phases in practices.

– The law states that the practice phase is not a practice training but a practice oriented study phase.

Lessons learnt

Thanks to the combination of theoretical and practical training, graduates of vocational education and training courses based on a dual system offered by the Berufsakademien and Duale Hochschule are well prepared for working life during their actual studies

Contact details


Contact person: 

Gerloff, Prof. Dr. Axel Head of International Relations


First collected by

HAPHE project, 2013-2015


Rating of GOOD practices
1-poor ..5-ok .. 10-excellent