Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. März 2006
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The Concept of the Salzburg Technical University

Erhard Busek (Vienna/Salzburg)


In comparison with Germany, Austria has been very slow in developing Technical Universities. For a long time it was the opinion in Austria that this type of institution was not needed. Over time it turned out it turned out that that such an institution actually did command a necessary place in a professionally oriented university education. After more than ten years of experience with this form of university, it has been definitely established that the concept is a successful one.. Initially it was envisioned that there would be approximately 10,000 students. Today there are many times that number, causing new courses of study to spring up continuously. It is also an innovative concept, because it is based on the principle that every five years every course of study is reviewed with respect to its achievement and necessity. The organization and execution are carried out in close contact with the business world primarily, but also with other areas in which the young graduates expect to find employment.

The very pleasing result is that unemployed graduates of technical universities are rare. That situation has led to the correction that the universities offer not only professional orientation, but also solid practical training, takes into account the necessary changes in society as well as in technology and business. For Austria it is also interesting that the law governing these universities is a very short one, so that the autonomous room to maneuver and the self-responsibility of every Technical University is extraordinarily large.

The Technical University of Salzburg is equipped to offer courses of study, which offer prospects for future success also in a regional context. It is concentrated on the fields of business and technology, the media and design, health and social studies. However, in the course of its development it has added special programs, for example, in tourism as well as also in the technological and social areas. At present its offerings are comprised of nine major programs, which beginning in Fall 2006 will be supplemented by six new health programs of study, which will offer a very differentiated education in the non-medical area. The module type of teaching guarantees individualized flexibility to students and makes possible a special orientation to meet the increasing competition and the expanded EU labor market. The most important goal along with imparting the knowledge of the subject matter is the development of personal potential and capabilities along with teaching how to act responsibly, self-reliantly and with social competence. This aim is valid for the students and teachers as well for the coworkers of the central services. In the meantime a new vision has been developed, one which has set as its goal an intensive interaction with the students with respect to their future professional activity. Since today one has to expect that one’s professional occupation will undergo several transformations over one’s career, emphasis is being put on teaching quasi "entrepreneurship" as a basic principle. That may be a positive version of the "I-Company," which is in the present day increasingly becoming a necessity. In this way the competitive capability and the indispensable transfer of knowledge are to be reinforced by cooperation and the establishment of a functioning network.

The administrators of the Technical University Salzburg are the Chamber of Labor and the Chamber of Business in Salzburg, connections that also guarantee the practical aspect. Both institutions, in turn, have issued an ambitious Declaration of Principles, which makes the education a prerequisite for the further development, for example, in the sense of the Lisbon Goals. The Technical University itself is in the process of transforming the Bologna Model and intends to complete this ambitious process between 2006 and 2010. One has also borrowed the concepts of value from the local area. From "Salzburg" one has taken the word "Salz" and given it a new meaning in German, with "S" standing for social competence, "A" for avant-garde, "L" for performance and "Z" for the future..

The Technical University Salzburg stands in close cooperation with the nearby research foundation Urstein, which, in turn, forms a campus to the South of Salzburg. The present research programs are Information Technology, Future and Innovative Research in the social and leisure time areas as well as Wood and Wood Technology. These last fields resulted from the fact that in the direct vicinity of the university there are three courses of study involving wood: Wood Economy, Wood Design, and Wood Architecture. At the beginning of 2007 the Technical University Salzburg will have approximately 2,100 students, a faculty of more than 100 fulltime teachers and 350 Lecturers, all primarily from the fields of economy, business and practice..

The success to date is demonstrated by a series of awards and tributes for graduates. The Technical University Salzburg is networked internationally, and the range of some courses of study even extends to China, in which case the networks are naturally developed in accordance with specific programs.

In general, it is the task of the Technical Universities to define their position between the secondary schools, the universities and the professional world. That is made somewhat easier by the fact that along with the fulltime students there are also programs for people who are working, whereby the continuous connection to practice is created. The decisive point of the Technical University lies in its flexibility as well as its practical orientation, which is the determining characteristic of this kind of education.

© Erhard Busek (Vienna/Salzburg)

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TRANS       Inhalt | Table of Contents | Contenu  16 Nr.

For quotation purposes:
Erhard Busek (Vienna/Salzburg): The Concept of the Salzburg Technical University. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005.

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