Berufsakademie / University of Cooperative Education

Berufsakademien in Baden-Württemberg can call themselves universities by German legislation (see earlier entry). Foreign authorities will have to decide whether they are universities by foreign standards. But who lays down their English name, what language advice did they have and what are the consequences?

Following the realization that the strange term University of Cooperative Education was not Baden-Württemberg’s answer to Monty Python, Paul Thomas wrote to the Berufsakademie Stuttgart to see what they had to say for themselves. Paul was complaining about the use of the word university rather than cooperative education. The reply said there was a decision of the Conference of the Ministers for Cultural Affairs and Education of the Länder in 1995 which proclaimed that these Berufsakademien were equivalent to universities. To quote the email from the Berufsakademie Stuttgart to Paul:

bq. Mit dem KMK-Beschluss von 1995 ist der Abschluss an Berufsakademien dem Abschluss an Fachhochschulen gleichgestellt worden. Dies ist in Baden-Württemberg auch gesetzlich verankert worden. Siehe hierzu Berufsakademiegesetz § 1, Abs. 2. Im Zuge der internationalen Namensgebung der Fachhochschulen 1998 / 99 haben auch die Berufsakademien die internationale Bezeichnung University erhalten.

More on next page:The Berufsakademiegesetz does indeed say that Berufsakademien are the equivalent of Fachhochschulen:

bq. (2) Berufsakademien gehören dem tertiären Bildungsbereich an; sie bieten eine Alternative zum Studium an Fachhochschulen und Universitäten. Sie arbeiten mit Hochschulen und anderen Einrichtungen des Bildungswesens zusammen. Das nach drei Jahren erfolgreich abgeschlossene Studium und die Ausbildung an der Berufsakademie Baden-Württemberg ist dem Studium in der entsprechenden Fachrichtung an einer Fachhochschule des Landes Baden-Württemberg gleichwertig und vermittelt dieselben Berechtigungen wie ein erfolgreich abgeschlossenes Studium an einer Fachhochschule des Landes Baden-Württemberg.

bq. (2) Berufsakademien (vocational academies) are part of the tertiary education system; they offer an alternative to studies at polytechnics and universities. They work in cooperation with universities and other educational institutions. A course passed after three years’ study together with training at the Baden-Württemberg vocational academy is of equal value to a course in the corresponding faculty at a Fachhochschule (polytechnic) in the Land of Baden-Württemberg and confers the same entitlement as a successful course at a polytechnic in the Land of Baden-Württemberg.

Note the word Studium, which is normally used only in connection with universities.

We are back with the problem of ‘translating’ proper names. The original German term should appear at least once. The label ‘University of Cooperative Education’ is not transparent: who would guess it meant Berufsakademie?

But what about the final sentence of the letter: ‘In the course of international naming / giving international names to the Fachhochschule in 1998/99, the Berufsakademien too were given the international name University. Interesting: it doesn’t say they were given the words ‘cooperative education’, and it doesn’t say where the name was given. Probably not even delegated legislation, but one of those pieces of paper the principal at Erlangen used to have in the desk drawer.

Fachhochschulen have been termed Universities of Applied Science. My real problem is with the term ‘Applied Science’. After all, these are not technical universities. Wissenschaft in German means scholarship or academia, but in English science means Naturwissenschaft: physics, chemistry, biology, maths.

Anyway, I could probably live with FHs being called universities, and if the statute says a BS is at the same level, I’ll have to call that a university too. But who decides what English is to be used, and in what way is this binding?

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