Second-Tier Higher Education Institutions and the Diversity Challenge: Structural Components Adopted Through a Germanic Lens

  • Martina Gaisch
  • Regina Aichinger
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


This contribution seeks to elaborate on second-tier higher education institutions (HEIs) in the context of Europe, and more precisely in the Germanic world, with the aim to identify differences and communalities to US-specific Community Colleges. By drawing on the specific example of the higher education system in Austria, an in-depth analysis of the historical development of the sector of universities of applied sciences (UAS) is provided. In addition, it is sought to outline the profile and mandate of this 23-year-old sector and to discuss why it seems particularly suitable for addressing issues such as lifelong learning, third mission, and the social dimension. Finally, a dynamic student lifecycle management is introduced that takes account of an increasing demand for a diversity-sensitive orientation of institutions of higher learning. It is argued that in view of the growing individualization and the rising heterogeneity of the student population, student lifecycle services have to allow for a variety of different paths to meet the needs of professionally qualified students, students with family commitments or differing demographic diversity challenges. In sum, second-tier institutions not only differ with regard to their selectivity, prestige, curriculum, and practical orientation, they are also believed to adopt different approaches towards diversity management. This is all the more relevant since they appear more likely to act as gate-openers for nontraditional students and allow for vertical expansion to previously excluded social groups. This, among others, is certainly a common denominator between community colleges and the European UAS sector.


Second-tier higher education institutions University of applied sciences Diversity Diversity management Nontraditional students HEAD wheel Austria Germany 


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© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Applied Sciences Upper AustriaLinz, WelsAustria

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