Permeability Between Technical College and University Systems

  Students in a lecture hall Copyright: © Mario Irrmischer  

System transitions to EQF level 6


Key Info

Basic Information

01.10.2021 to 31.03.2023
Research Area:
Education, Training and Apprenticeship Concepts for Technical Domains in Craft and Industry

Further Information



Martin Frenz

Head of Technical Vocational Education and Training Department


+49 241 80-99480




The project examines transitions between the academic and the vocational education system at EQF level 6. To this end, investigations will empirically survey individual initiatives and combine them in a concept in order to identify opportunities for expanding permeability between the technical college and higher education systems.


Issues of permeability and educational equality have a high priority in the context of lifelong learning. The project focuses on goals such as educational equality and equal opportunities, but also on the qualitative and quantitative effects of permeability. On the one hand, the transition of vocationally qualified skilled workers into the academic system is weak; on the other hand, university dropouts face almost insurmountable obstacles when switching to vocational training at EQF level 6. Nevertheless, individual transitions exist in various regions. The empirical approach will explore them. The intended outcome promotes the attractiveness of the vocational education and training system and attracts new target groups to the middle management level at EQF level 6.


The aim of the project is to investigate the mutual permeability between the vocational school and university systems. The following questions guide the research process:

  1. Which experiences exist for the mutual permeability between technical colleges and universities? Which models exist for the assessment of equivalence of achievements from the respective other system?
  2. What perspectives exist to expand further the permeability between the technical college and university systems? What opportunities and threads do the experts see for career path changers? How do they assess future prospects?
  3. What permeability imply for students? What does the study option imply for prospective technicians, and what prerequisites do they see for a successful transition? Are transitions into the continuing education system favourable for dropped out students? What approaches can support and promote them?


The subject of the research is the mutual permeability between technical colleges for engineering and engineering pedagogical university programs. The problem and theory specification as well as the empirically supported expansion of the state of knowledge are carried out according to the introductory phases of the design-based research approach. First, the project surveys and analyses existing individual approaches to the design of system transitions. Both, institutional and educational biographical perspectives are included. In particular, case studies of existing potentials from perspectives of experts and students offer chances for comparison studies. As a result, the project creates a concept for action in order to identify suitable models for the further development of reciprocal permeability between the vocational education and higher education systems.


The first of three working papers is now available.

The first working paper focuses on the experiences of technical colleges for engineering in designing reciprocal permeability between educational pathways at EQF level 6. It presents the results of a written survey in which 136 technical colleges for engineering in Germany provided information on their cooperation experiences with higher education institutions in designing transitions. A document analysis on the framework for action and the initial situation summarises the findings on access to educational areas, crediting of learning, organizational linking and dealing with heterogeneous needs. The focus is on reciprocal transitions of students leaving university and graduates of technical colleges for engineering between the technical college and higher education systems.

The working paper Reziproke Durchlässigkeit zwischen Bildungsgängen auf DQR-Niveau 6 is freely available via Open Access.


The project is funded by the Hans-Böckler-Stiftung, Forschungsschwerpunkt Bildung in der Arbeitswelt (project number: 2021-392-5).

Project Partners

Otto-von-Guericke-Universität Magdeburg Institut Bildung, Beruf und Medien Arbeitsbereich Gewerblich-technische Berufsbildung

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