The universities of Freiburg, Heidelberg, Karlsruhe, and Mannheim want to work together on the development of an International Tele-University Germany (INTUG) where students from all over the world can gain internationally recognized qualifications. The four universities thus present a future-oriented model unparalleled in Germany, which opens up a world-wide market for different levels of education - a sphere in which the Federal Republic is at present still a developing country.
The hope is that the renown of the universities involved will lead foreign students to take up offers of studies in Germany to a greater extent than hitherto. The International Tele-University will also contribute towards advanced education and the transfer of technology. Its declared objective is to become a "global player" in the world market of tele-learning and to make "Know-How Made in Germany" into a trade mark once again.
Students or those who give them grants will have to cover the costs involved - allowing for financial support from industry and the profits from sales of teaching materials.
Studies at the International Tele-University are to be organized in such a way that the first more theoretical phase of training takes place in students' home areas, utilizing telecommunication and multi-media techniques. The second stage involves being present at university, and will be devoted to practical aspects of studies and the final phase. During both phases individual and group provision will be a central concern of the new university, constituting a great technical and organizational challenge for the tele-stage.
English is the scientific lingua franca and the English language opens up access to the world market, so it will be the language of the tele-phase. The period of presence at university will also be in English apart from arts subjects where German predominates. Care will be taken to prevent the German language becoming a barrier to studies at German universities. On the other hand, "German as a Foreign Language" will be on offer where culture and social studies will also be mediated. The new university will lead to internationally recognized university qualifications, providing generally accepted "credits" for participation in courses, seminars, etc. Complete study courses will only be developed as time passes since multi-media preparation is highly complex. Such courses will therefore be developed from above downwards: first individual "upper level" special courses which will gradually grow together to form general courses leading to Bachelors and Masters degrees. The universities involved will contribute the specializations where they are among the leaders in the field since only then will the idea of an International Tele-University have a chance of securing a place on the world education market. INTUG will start with German as a foreign language, informatics, forrestry, management, and medicine.
Universities in the target countries must be found as partners for implementation of the tele-phase. They are intended to provide support for the International Tele-University in looking after students and making available technical infrastructure. Such partnership can only function over the long term if based on mutuality and cooperation. Industrial enterprises should also become active partners in target countries. They would also be sources of software and the technical and media infrastructure for transmission of courses as well as taking on some responsibility for caring for students.
Dr. Michael Schwarz
Public Information Officer
University of Heidelberg
phone: +49 6221 542310, fax 542317