In demand and gladly employed
The image of Austrian UASs is not only apparent in the general population but also, and above all, on the labour market, which is keen to hire graduates from UASs. According to the current public survey of the Institute for Empirical Social Studies (IFES), UAS students are preferred primarily due to the high degree of practical relevance and the close cooperation with businesses as well as a particularly strong orientation in business.
The statement “UAS graduates are preferred over graduates from other universities” was agreed by 44 percent of the respondents. The opposite view is held by 37%.
Christina Draxler knows doubly from her own experience how in demand employees with a degree from a UAS truly are. Firstly, she already had a job waiting for her after completing her degree in “Entrepreneurship & E-Business” and “Management”, a master’s programme with a specialisation in Human Resources at the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems. On top of that, as current head of personnel of Kastner Großhandel GesmbH, she has another perspective on the good reputation of UAS degrees. “We appreciate the quality of graduates from the IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems here in the region”, says the human resources manager. And that really pays off for the newest employees: “In terms of salary, we don’t differentiate between graduates from UASs and traditional universities,” she reports.
Rather, the experiences of UAS graduates are particularly positive, since they are often more quickly able to begin work due to their practice-oriented education. “In addition, the close contact with private industry is really an advantage”, says the 26-year-old. And she is speaking from her own experience: “I found this job because I had already been introduced to a number of businesses through the UAS. That’s why I was lucky enough to be made an offer while I was still working on my master’s thesis, which I gladly accepted”, says Draxler.
On equal footing
According to a current study of the IFES 32 percent of Austrians rank the image of UASs higher than that of universities.
36 percent see them on the same level.
Sigrid Karan, personnel manager of Engel, knows exactly how close this contact is. Her employer, which has its registered office in Schwertberg, Upper Austria, but operates internationally, is a producer of injected moulding machinery and factory automation machinery. “We have a good network reaching to Steyr, already due to the geographical proximity of our facilities”, she says, referring to the campus of FH Upper Austria which is located there. This UAS is also her alma mater, as she studied in the bachelor’s programme “Production and Management” from 2009 to 2012 and then completed her master’s there in “Global Sales and Marketing”. Her studies have been beneficial to the present day through the resulting contacts that she made. This is even now helping the 29-year-old in her current position. “We are working on a number of projects together with UASs”, she reports. “In addition, we enjoy advising bachelor’s and master’s theses of the students.” This is an advantage for both parties, since, not only do the students get to know the reality of business, but also the businesses have the opportunity to form an opinion of potential future employees. And plenty of these are being sought: “We have 6900 employees worldwide, 3900 of whom work in Austria, and 2000 of whom work here in Schwertberg”, reports the HR officer, “and every year, about 100 new jobs are added.”
The reputation of UASs is one of the many reasons why their graduates are gladly hired: “We not only appreciate the close relationship between UASs and business, their graduates have more practical experience, for example in projects or teamwork”, Karan names a few. The fact that Universities of Applied Sciences support the extra-occupational form of studies is also a plus, as these graduates start jobs with a completely different treasure trove of experience. And which image do these degrees have – even after 25 years – compared to conventional university degrees? “A high one. The thought that a UAS degree is worth less no longer exists in business”, says the HR manager.