Optimizing higher education for the professional student. The example of Computer Science education at the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien

During the last years the number of job vacancies in computer science in Austria and Germany is constantly increasing. In Germany the estimated number presently is around 41000 vacant jobs (Streim, Pfisterer, 2014). As a result of that situation, companies start seeking employees among Computer Science students, thus creating a pressure on students to start to work with companies while they are still studying.

At the same time many companies say, they need computer science education to be oriented more on practical needs instead of theoretical knowledge. This fact is well known in Computer Science education. Students who are perfect in answering theoretical questions in an exam not necessarily are able to apply the knowledge in real world projects. In many cases this is the reason why students from traditional programs in Computer Science show a rather poor performance when starting to work (Pucher, Schmöllebeck, 2007).

At the University of Applied Sciences Technikum Wien the authors developed a concept for the Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science and for the Master’s Degree in Software Engineering to combine theoretical knowledge with application of that knowledge in real world projects. Furthermore the programs are optimized for students who just finished high school and guide them smoothly into full time work in the last semester of their study. The most important features include:

  • Bachelor´s Program in Computer Science
    • The first contact to real world problems is made early in the study, usually in the third semester, in selected cases even in the first semester.
    • BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and mobile teaching. Most projects are realized using the own lap top computer or own mobile device of the student. This saves costs for the university and adds flexibility (Pucher et al., 2007).
    • Carefully selection of allowed projects. A match has to be done between company needs and educational needs. This issue proved to be crucial for the success of the projects (Pucher et al., 2010).
    • The study program Computer Science is a traditional face to face program, but includes elements of distant education in series of lessons to allow students to transform theoretical knowledge into practical skills.
  • Master´s program in Software Engineering
    • The master´s program Software Engineering is especially designed for students who work beside their studies.
    • In the Master’s Program much care is taken to help students to gain theoretical knowledge needed for their practical work, but also to teach specific subjects in a project based learning environment.

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