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Universities of applied sciences are held in high esteem by the general public

08.05.2019 | General
In the representative IFES public survey, UAS received the best image values among all educational institutes.

On the occasion of the 25-year anniversary of Austrian universities of applied sciences, the UAS Conference (FHK) commissioned a large-scale image study. 3,200 Austrians were polled by means of an online survey on the general image of the educational sector and specifically on the characteristics profiles of UAS and universities.

Excellent Image

Universities of applied sciences have a very good image among the general public. UAS were generally perceived as the best among the surveyed educational institutes in Austria. 69% of respondents had a (very) good impression of UAS, followed by universities (65%, very good and good impression) and secondary vocational colleges (64%). New secondary vocational schools (32%) and polytechnic schools (26%) came in last.

Specifically the stricter organization of studies, supervision and service, practical relevance and proximity to industry and potential employers are regarded as the strengths of universities of applied sciences.

Günther Platter, Governor of Tirol:“The decentralization of university education in Tirol is advancing, which is personally very important to me. The universities of applied sciences in Innsbruck, Kufstein, Landeck and Lienz provide a significant contribution to the regional education offer and strengthen Tirol as a science and business location. Universities of applied sciences are held in high esteem – justifiably so: Since the combination of practice and theory ideally prepares and complements the personal professional career path of students.”

The organization of studies at UAS (admission procedure, completion in the stipulated time frame, limitation of study places) is regarded as (very) good by a total of 86% of respondents. UAS graduates evaluate the organization of their studies as significantly better than university graduates (94% vs. 68%). The information and general framework conditions of studies are also evaluated as very good. 66% felt (very) well informed. UAS graduates evaluate this aspect as significantly better than university graduates (82% vs. 60%).

Walter Draxl (FH Gesundheit), Andreas Altmann (MCI) and Thomas Madritsch (FH Kufstein Tirol) see this as a confirmation of their many years of hard work: “For 25 years, Austria’s universities of applied sciences have represented the link between the scientific approach and practical relevance, internationalism, service orientation, innovation, entrepreneurial dynamism and not least excellent career opportunities for graduates. This is expressed in the excellent image values and reputation of UAS in the industry as well as in the social and health care sector.”


UAS are regarded as modern and innovative. The surveyed characteristics profile of both educational institutes significantly favors UAS. Approximately 7 of 10 respondents (between 68% and 73%) stated that UAS are useful, expedient, offer good career opportunities and are important. Only 53% to 66% of respondents ascribe these attributes to universities. Furthermore, 6 of 10 respondents (between 61% and 66%) attribute the characteristics of contemporariness, labor-market relevance, industry proximity, modernity, efficiency, practice-orientation, innovation, good reputation and solution-orientation to universities of applied sciences. Only 41% to 45% ascribe these values to universities. Universities receive a better evaluation with respect to openness toward new ideas (63% UAS vs. 69% university).

Scientific Member of Parliament Bernhard Tilg: “This survey confirms the tremendous importance of universities of applied sciences in the Tirolean university landscape. The offer of scientifically based education tailored to a specific occupational field is an important complement to the varied scientific pre-vocational training of universities.”


The survey queried various study aspects. UAS graduates and UAS students were significantly more satisfied than university graduates and university students. With regard to practical-relevance (UAS: 76%, university: 38%, very and somewhat satisfied), currentness of content (79% vs. 65%), technical equipment (70% vs. 41%), supervision and services (70% vs. 47%), commitment and supervision of teaching staff (71% vs. 55%) as well as availability of learning materials (73% vs. 60%), the universities of applied sciences received significantly better evaluations. Especially the service quality and modernity of equipment are clear strengths of UAS.

Due to the framework conditions of UAS, students for the most part assume that they will complete their studies in the minimum time period and that sufficient study places will be available for all students. Approximately 7 of 10 UAS students (71%) assume that they will complete their studies in the minimum time period, 40% among university students. Approximately six of 10 UAS students (62%) regard the available places for courses as sufficient (university: 51%).

Students generally evaluate the study conditions as very good although UAS students are more satisfied than university student


A clear strength of UAS is the practical relevance and proximity to industry and the professional world. The prospects for finding employment are regarded as better for UAS than for universities. More than two thirds of UAS students and UAS graduates perceive the following advantages compared to universities:

  • Study completion within the minimum time period (UAS: 72% vs. university: 24%)
  • High practical relevance (69% vs. 28%)
  • Good reputation in the industry (67% vs. 46%)
  • Modern and innovative (68% vs. 39%)
  • Close cooperation with companies (63% vs. 29%)
  • Conveyance of contemporary content (70% vs. 49%)
  • Innovative study models for employed students (62% vs. 34%)
  • Taking the requirements of industry into account (62% vs. 33%)
  • Strong industry orientation (48% vs. 24%)

There are no noteworthy differences between the educational institutes with respect to offered study disciplines and the quality of education – both rank equally high.


The importance of university education remains indisputably high. 84% of the population believe that UAS are (very) important in the Austrian education system. In a direct comparison of UAS and universities, both educational institutes are tied: 32% regard the importance of UAS as greater, and the same percentage regard universities as more important while 36% ascribe the same (high) importance to both.

The study can be downloaded on the FHK homepage: www.fhk.ac.at

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