by Czech-German Young Professionals Program CGYPP
The Czech-German Young Professionals Program is supported by the Czech-German Future Fund and organized by the Association for International Affairs (AMO) and European Academy Berlin.
The Czech-German Young Professionals Program (CGYPP) creates a growing international network for future leaders from Germany and the Czech Republic. The program aspires to give young professionals impulses and opportunities to develop their professional personality in an international and cross field program. By exchanging and sharing experiences and perspectives, the participants not only broaden their horizons but also increase their social capital. Indirectly the program contributes to the better Czech-German relations and mutual understanding.
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Diversity in Higher Education

by Susen Seidel
Diversity in Higher Education
by Susen Seidel

Diversity in Higher Education (HE) – How to Adapt Diversity Management in Higher Education Systems

From on campus kindergartens to the offers of further education for students without a high school degree, German universities are very active in their commitment for more diversity. Nevertheless such an opening in the academic system itself is not always assessed positively, rather it is connected to misgivings that could generally decrease performance levels. Why is that so and what has to be considered if universities wish to implement these approaches from diversity nonetheless?

Diversity at Germany Universities...
Orientation system for the blind and on campus kindergartens, longer opening times in the student administrations office, more programs for women wishing to get an IT degree, further education opportunities for students without a high school degree.

It seems that German universities have been giving a lot of attention to the theme of diversity lately. Universities, organizations, and interest groups organize conferences which honor good practices and conduct explanatory work.

...By No Means Just a Fashion Topic...
Universities do not just act purely on a public level. They also react to the effects of demographic change: because in the future, the universities have to also appeal to people who would have preferred a non-academic option for their further education. Students are becoming more diverse than ever before with regard to their individual prior knowledge and formal educational background, their social background, their motivation for studying and their future living situation.

...And Yet a Problem?
This opening of the universities is basically accompanied by a certain amount of skepticism in academic circles since the diversity of students is often considered the antithesis of an “elite education”: The heterogeneity of students means more a loss in quality and not as an enrichment from this perspective.

Where Do These Reservations Come From?
The organization academy despite all its openness has its system-related limits, which means that it is oriented towards performance and already selective in its approach. Whoever does not conform to the prescribed requirements is excluded. Performance that must be certified in a definite way is the legitimate disqualifier in the educational system.

Universities still assume the idea of a traditional student that would like to acquire an “education through science” in the Humboltian sense at university. The student has the appropriate motivation, resources, and educational background in order to be able to adapt to the academic studying conditions (lectures, seminars, preparations, and follow-ups, giving presentations and writing papers). The traditional student is not married, has no kids, is not a foreigner, not from a low socio-economic background, went directly from high school to university, studies full-time, and is not handicapped.

As a rule, the classes as well as the study and service opportunities are designed for these “normal students”. Thus, an adjustment to the study system and the cultural norms of the university is expected from the students. The universities can ignore deviations from the norm or they can screen them using the appropriate measures. Diversity-sensitive changes in the curriculum are hard to implement since it could give established solutions like “testing-out“, characterized by complexity and over-stressing, in everyday university life as well safety and perceived security. On the other hand, universities have little influence on the actions of their teachers. Good teaching practices in the science system, in contrast to good research, do not bring a good reputation. And most of the university teachers are also primarily researchers. Thus the willingness to an individual instruction can only be reached through intrinsic motivation.

Course of Action of the Universities.
Universities have little external incentive mechanisms in order to influence its employees. They could, however, take up the concrete questions and problems of the university professors and, therefore, give perfectly fitting answers, for example, with the aid of the university didactics. If universities want to sensitize and train their employees in how to deal with diversity, then they have to offer them solutions that function under real conditions (and not thought-up ideals).

If the students lack the ability for independent learning, then the university must contribute with its academic organization so that the necessary autonomous learning can be enforced even when the student must take care of his/her family aside of work, and whose mother tongue is not the national language and is taking evening classes.

This is also about the progression from a one-sided adaption (the students at university) to a mutual adaption with which the universities can continually orientate their offers and structures for a new generation of students.

Diversity Management at Universities – Good Practices:

- good practices:
- the survey tool CHE QUEST that illustrates how students adapt differently to their study conditions: Study related diversity CHE Consult Briefing 1 1 english.pdf
- the Competence Center KomDiM supports the implementation of Diversity Management in academic teaching and learning. See more:
- HET LSA – a cooperation project between various educational institutes in the federal state of Saxony-Anhalt, dealing with increasing heterogeneity in student populations. See more:
- Online-Services for First generation students