In the OECD’s annual Education at a Glance report for 2014, researchers found that it is becoming more common for students to attain at least a secondary education across most regions of the globe, but they also found it’s becoming ever more common for students to then pursue a tertiary higher education.
The publication collects data from 34 OECD countries, as well as some non-OECD regions, including Brazil, Russia, Argentina, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Latvia, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
The report showed that roughly eight out of 10 young adults (aged 25-34) within the surveyed countries had completed upper secondary education. As for practical education and experience, attainment levels were comparatively lower, with roughly three in every 10 adults having attained it. But the report points out that these levels have risen 10 percent across all OECD countries since the year 2000, demonstrating the sharp rise in not only practical education, but a modern, blended education – where students are able to develop a well-rounded skill set of academic knowledge and practical experience.
The debate on practical skills versus theoretical knowledge is one that has been progressing almost as long as taught education itself. Whilst the benefits of a theoretical, academic education can be seen through the successes of the scholars of history, it is also the practical and applied education that has changed our society & culture in so many ways and influenced how we live today.
Historically one may have had to choose which school of thought to belong to, but the more society progresses it is becoming increasingly important to realise that education does not have to be purely theoretical, or purely practical, but that a mixture of the two is the most beneficial for the young people of today, and in turn society itself.
“Bias against [any particular type of] education is dysfunctional,” writes Mark Phillips, professor emeritus of secondary education at San Francisco State University. “[Our children] should have the opportunity to be trained in whatever skills their natural gifts and preferences lead them to.”
More and more, employers across the globe are seeking qualified employees with a good balance of academic prowess, practical knowledge and specialised skills, such as those gained from universities of applied sciences. The practical, applicable guidance students at these institutions receive, paired with the rigour of the academic curriculum they study, not only increases participation in a highly skilled workforce, it also allows companies to take advantage of new technologies, and pushes improvements in productivity across the whole nation’s economy.
Many universities across the world, especially applied science institutions in Europe, are heavily investing in practical training alongside ironclad academia – a method that has been shown to greatly improve rates of youth employment, and in turn improve a country’s economic and social status.
The Netherlands alone is home to 41 institutions of Applied Science, and all of them vary in terms of both size and specialisation. Some are focused and inclusive, honing in on particular fields such as engineering, business or travel & tourism. Courses at these universities tend to last three to four years, and all programmes incorporate an industry based placement which is an invaluable opportunity in the modern world.
“I’ve met managers, even directors, who began with their companies on work experience,” says Nick Green, head of community access programmes at Nuffield Health, which partners with Barclays on a LifeSkills programme.
According to a survey by City & Guilds, 80 percent of employers think experience in a workplace is essential, and two thirds reported they would be more likely to hire someone with experience over someone who has none at all. “Finding work these days is so competitive, so it gives young people an obvious advantage,” adds Green. For applied science institutions and economies that capitalize on this training and utilise industry networks to provide relevant work opportunities for students, the benefits are broad and all-encompassing.
Sebastian Vasile studied Mathematical Engineering at Inholland University of Applied Sciences, one of the most popular Universities of its kind due to its unique and culturally diverse location in central Amsterdam. The University also offers undergraduate programmes in Aeronautical Engineering, International Business Innovation Studies, International Music Management, Media and Entertainment Management and Tourism Management. Sebastian claims the work placement opportunities hugely swayed him in the process of deciding which university he should go to as he knew the experience could see him into a career virtually anywhere in the world.
“I am currently doing my individual project internship,” says Sebastian, “which requires me to work at a company as part of the programme curriculum. The job revolves around mobile development. Besides that, I did have a part-time job during my third year of studies, where I worked as a web developer.
“Although at times it was a challenging, it did not hinder my school activities and performance as I always aimed to put school as my main objective. Overall, I can state that because of information gained in school, as well as some extra work experience, I was able to find a job and an internship rather easily.”
With the benefits of a well-rounded education clear for not only the students as individuals, but also to the nations and economies offering these learning experiences, it is a model that is worth taking note of. As a society there is a lot to gain from giving students the mix of practical and academic skills they need to ensure the success of a country’s future. As for students themselves, aside from the increased chance of employability, it is also the opportunity to make use of one’s individual strengths and talents, wherever they may lie on the practical/academic spectrum, that bring the real value to this type of education.
If all nations were to place much higher value on a workforce that possesses the practical technique as well as academic ability, they could greatly reduce the gap in supply and demand for specific tertiary skills. When this form of education becomes integral to the curriculum – as it has in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands – not only does it greatly improve rates of youth employment, it also ensures a much smoother and successful transition from the classroom into the workforce.
Read on to learn more about some of best Universities of Applied Sciences that Europe has to offer, providing students with the highest quality academics and industry standard experience…
INHOLLAND UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES – NETHERLANDS
Inholland University of Applied Sciences is an ambitious institution with over 29,000 students, 26 research groups, more than 110 nationalities, and approximately 1,800 employees. Those who study at Inholland University of Applied Sciences can be assured of a top-quality professional education, both in content and norms and values. Over several campuses across the Netherlands, Inholland offers a wide variety of programmes, with 6 bachelor programmes taught in English, in all fields of study from mathematic engineering to tourism management. Courses are geared towards the needs of the professional field, resulting in top-quality degrees and in-demand graduation tracks. The majority of the English taught programmes are located at the Amsterdam campus, the perfect place to study due to its central location in Europe, cultural diversity, thriving social scene, unique character and student-friendly community atmosphere.
MUNICH UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES – GERMANY
Munich University of Applied Sciences is a modern, service-orientated University in one of the most liveable cities in the world. It is also the largest applied sciences institution in the whole of Germany. With over 17,800 students, around 500 professors, 750 lecturers and 660 staff, the School is committed to its own guiding principle, to transform “knowledge into know-how and learners into leaders.” Course offerings are multifaceted: 14 departments in the areas of technology, economy, social studies and design provide teaching in over 70 study courses. Study courses can also be individually designed, providing a multifaceted approach that guarantees you individuality as you maximise your strengths and implement your ideas.
HELSINKI METROPOLIA UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES – FINLAND
Helsinki Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, Finland’s largest university of its kind, educates the professionals of tomorrow in the fields of culture, business, health care and social services, and technology. The School is home to 16,500 students, 1,080 members of staff and 67 degree programmes – 15 of which are in English. The School is the most popular University of Applied Sciences in Finland in terms of applicants and the second most popular in terms of attractiveness, with 6.3 first-choice applicants per study place for the year 2014. Metropolia aims to be Finland’s best ranked university of applied sciences.
IMC UNIVERSITY OF APPLIED SCIENCES KREMS – AUSTRIA
Over the past few years the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems has built up a strong international reputation and now has over 2,500 students from all over the world. Through a combination of academic and business expertise, IMC opens up excellent domestic and international career opportunities for all of its graduate students. An international approach and practical focus are the School’s leading priorities. University level education tailored to professional requirements demands a solid academic background, and in order to equip them for the challenges of working life, IMC Krems students have the opportunity to study abroad or complete an internship with one of its 1,000 partner businesses worldwide.