Switching from “Fachhochschule” to “Universität”

Switching from “Fachhochschule” to “Universität”

The german education system offers a huge variety of universities for students. Two of them are very well-known: Universität (University) and Fachhochschule/Hochschule (University of Applied Sciences, short: UAS). I have the honor to experience both since I studied my Bachelor’s degree at an UAS, the Hochschule Konstanz.
In this short article I will share my experiences with this change.

Difference between University and UAS

The german “Fachhochschule” wants to increase the practical parts of the studies. You often have a mandatory internship which lasts up to six months. You have the opportunity to have a first look at some kind of job which is related to you field of study. But in general you will have to study 3,5 years for your Bachelor’s degree instead of 3 years at an university.

Furthermore, the groups are quite small. You have classes of approximately 50 students which yields a better learning experience for each of them. This also makes it possible to have projects in which you present in front of the whole class.

The classical “Universität” tries to provide deep theoretical and basic knowledge in a very broad field. You will have labs and exercises but not as much as in most of the UAS.

The lectures at the universities can be extremely crowded which makes it really hard for students to get the same support from the chair as at the UAS. It can also be hard to have a smooth transition in to the first job, since you probably lack working experience.

My experience (so far)

I recently started to study at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) which is a “Universität” as I described before. Here, I am studying in my Master’s so obviously some things are supposed to change between Bachelor and Master. I have made following experiences:

More effort

I have had semesters at the HTWG in which I earned 40 ECTS (30 ECTS is the average per semester). Of course, I had to work more than usual but it was still manageable.

For my first semester at the TUM I decided to take 30 ECTS which I thought will be ok and easy to handle …


Current Situation

One credit at the university seems to result in much more effort than at the “Fachhochschule”. The speed in which you have to learn and work is higher and the taught content is (often) complex.

Very practical

I think it is a prejudice that universities can not provide you with the necessary practical experiences. Especially the TUM is offering dozens of labs and almost every course has exercises which relate to the lecture. There are also mandatory programming seminars where you will work in a team to develop and design different kinds of applications (shout out to Viktor and Lukas!).

Internationality

Some Universities of Applied Sciences (especially the HTWG) do not offer many courses in english. However, I realized that good english skills are actually expected from you if you work in the IT sector. The universities have at least in their Master Programs a whole bunch of english courses.

Anonymity

The saddest difference is probably that you don’t see the same people every day. You are to a certain extent anonymous in the lectures. The TUM has 8 times more students than the HTWG and this gives you the feeling of being one in many. The individual setup of each students schedule makes it even harder here.

TL;DR

Studying at the “Fachhochschule” was fun and you had a great connection to other students, professors and employees. But it was lacking international courses and the ECTS credits were “easier to get”.

At the “Universität” in Munich I’m working much harder to get my credits together and you are one out of 40 000 students. On the other hand, I’m learning in an international environment with a lot of practical use cases for the content from the lectures.