Vocational university

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Orebro University, Sweden Orebro University Primary Building.jpg
Örebro University, Sweden

A vocational university [lower-alpha 1] is an institution of higher education and sometimes research that provides vocational education and grants academic degrees.


In some countries, a vocational university more precisely grants professional degrees like professional bachelor's degree, professional master's degree and professional doctorates. The term is not officially used in many countries and an assignment to a certain type of university in a certain country's educational system is therefore difficult. The UK once had a very extensive vocational university sector with its polytechnic system dating back to the mid-19th century. Vocational universities are often regulated and funded differently (for example, by the local government rather than the state) from research-focused universities, and the degrees granted are not necessarily interchangeable.


The education at vocational universities combines teaching of both practical skills and theoretical expertise. It can be contrasted with education in a usually broader scientific field, which may concentrate on theory and abstract conceptual knowledge. There is also the historical background that an educational institution was called a university in the Middle Ages only if a certain classical canon of subjects was taught (typically including philosophy, medicine and theology). In modern times, other subjects, namely natural and engineering sciences, became more important, but institutions of tertiary education focusing on these subjects and not offering the classical canon have until recently or are still denied the prestigious denomination "university" in all countries. They had to use other, more general terms (which in many languages are false friends of the English term "high school", sometimes with modifiers), including Fachhochschule in German, Haute École in French (Belgium and Switzerland), Hogeschool in Dutch, Høyskole in Norwegian, Scuola universitaria professionale in Italian, etc.

There are different varieties, including vocational universities of applied sciences (also named polytechnics or institutes of technology), vocational universities of liberal arts, etc. In recent years, many vocational universities have received full university status, such as the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria (Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, formerly Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Wien), or the Örebro University, Sweden (formerly Örebro Högskola). There are also some establishments which now have full university status but continue to use their former names, such as the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden.

In Europe



Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Kuopio, North Savonia, Finland Savonia AMK - Opistotie 2 - Hatsala - Kuopio.jpg
Savonia University of Applied Sciences in Kuopio, North Savonia, Finland

In Finland, vocational universities are called Ammattikorkeakoulu (Yrkeshögskola in Swedish, translated "university of applied sciences", literally "vocational high school"). They focus on vocational education and do not grant licentiate or doctorate degrees.

Notice: certain universities are called korkeakoulu because they effectively have only one faculty, e.g. Teatterikorkeakoulu, the Theatre Academy, whereas universities with several faculties are called yliopisto. The term ammattikorkeakoulu (AMK) creates some confusion with korkeakoulu, because traditionally AMK's were not considered universities. A graduate of university of applied sciences (ammattikorkeakoulu) is generally not eligible for doctoral studies in Finnish universities without formally completing a master's degree from a university (yliopisto).


The term vocational university is not used. In contrast to traditional German universities, a Fachhochschule (translated "university of applied sciences") has a more practical profile. Universities of applied sciences grant bachelor's degrees and master's degrees. Some universities of applied sciences run doctoral programs where the degree itself is awarded by a partner institution. Furthermore, Berufsakademie is a college type strongly inspired by the dual education system. A Berufsakademie is called a university of cooperative education in English and only grants bachelor's degrees. This type of institution was first created in the German state of Baden-Württemberg and now exists in Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saarland, Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein, and Thuringia, but not in the other German states. In 2009, Baden-Württemberg transformed its Berufsakademie into a new type of institution, which until now only exists in that state, a "Duale Hochschule". In English, this type of institution is also called university of cooperative education, but a Duale Hochschule also offers master's degrees.


In Greece, comparable institutions to the vocational universities (or perhaps better to the universities of applied sciences) are the technological educational institutes (TEIs). These constitute part and parcel of the higher education in Greece and offer in their own capacity bachelor's and master's degrees, and soon doctorate degrees. [1]

On the other hand, the term college in Greece may refer, among others, to the institutions that are officially titled Centres of Post-lyceum (secondary) Education. These have a solely professional, i.e. non-academic, orientation according to existing Greek law, and are so far only private. However, they run in collaboration with foreign authorities, such as universities and accreditation organisations, that may recognise them academically. They may offer professional bachelor degrees of minimum three years, as well as master's and doctorate degrees.


As of January 29, 2008, a Dutch hogeschool(HBO) may call itself a "university of applied sciences" in English. [2] Just like the German Fachhochschule, these HBO institutes have a more practical profile and are focused on a profession. This in opposition to the research universities (Dutch "universiteiten"), who focus on how to do research and how to solve problems/challenges on a scientific level of thinking. [3]

Universities of applied sciences offer bachelor's degrees and master's degrees, but no doctorates. [4]

Hogescholen in the Netherlands have been provided with the right to conduct research by the revised Higher Education and Research Act (WHOO)2010. [5]


The main difference between universities (universitet) and vocational universities (högskola, official translation university college) is that only the former ones have the right to award doctorate degrees in all subjects they offer. Some vocational universities have been given such rights within limited areas of research.


In Asia


China is home to the largest vocational education system in the world. In 2018, China had a total of about 11,700 vocational schools in the country. [6]

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education IVE LeeWaiLee.jpg
Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education


While the terms vocational university and professional university do not have a clear legal definition in India, the University Grants Commission (UGC), which is the body that recognises universities in India, drawing its power from the University Grants Commission Act, 1956 , [7] shares power with 15 professional councils. [8] These councils are "responsible for recognition of courses, promotion of professional institutions and providing grants to undergraduate programmes and various awards" in the relevant areas. The bodies relevant for professional education are:


University of Applied Science and Technology

The University of Applied Science and Technology (UAST) is a public university administrated by Ministry of Science, Research and Technology with various branches all over the Provinces of Iran. This university helps to increase skill level of employed personnel in various sectors of economic field and graduates of higher education and professional skills that are lacking in administrative. It is an educational system inspired and derived from 'Community College' in the United States. With more than 1500 education center in all corner of Iran. UAST confers degrees in over 100 programs at the associate, bachelor's and master's degree levels.

Technical and Vocational University

The Technical and Vocational University (TVU) is one of Institutes of Higher Education under control of the Ministry of Science, Research and Technology. The university has more than 176 schools and colleges across the country and more than 220 thousand students is one of the largest universities in Iran.


There are five public vocational universities in Malaysia:

Sri Lanka

In 2009, the first University of Vocational Technology was established under the purview of the Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training. There are also nine College of Technology in Sri Lanka. [9]


In Taiwan, vocational university is called University of science and technology or University of technology.

See also


  1. Also known as a university of applied sciences (UAS), polytechnic university, technological educational institute, applied technological university, or college of higher vocational studies

Related Research Articles

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including bachelor's, master's and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries there are lower level higher education qualifications that are also titled degrees and higher level.

Education in the Netherlands Overview of education in the Netherlands

Education in the Netherlands is characterized by division: education is oriented toward the needs and background of the pupil. Education is divided over schools for different age groups, some of which are divided in streams for different educational levels. Schools are furthermore divided in public, special (religious), and general-special (neutral) schools, although there are also a few private schools. The Dutch grading scale runs from 1 to 10 (outstanding).

A Fachhochschule, abbreviated FH, or University of Applied Sciences (UAS) is a German tertiary education institution that specializes in a particular applied science or applied art, such as engineering, technology or business.

Vocational school Higher-level learning institution providing education needed for specific occupations

A vocational school is a type of educational institution, which, depending on the country, may refer to either secondary or post-secondary education designed to provide vocational education, or technical skills required to complete the tasks of a particular and specific job. In the case of secondary education, these schools differ from academic high schools which usually prepare students who aim to pursue tertiary education, rather than enter directly into the workforce. With regard to post-secondary education, vocational schools are traditionally distinguished from four-year colleges by their focus on job-specific training to students who are typically bound for one of the skilled trades, rather than providing academic training for students pursuing careers in a professional discipline. While many schools have largely adhered to this convention, the purely vocational focus of other trade schools began to shift in the 1990s "toward a broader preparation that develops the academic" as well as technical skills of their students.

Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery, is the primary medical degree awarded by medical schools in countries that follow the tradition of the United Kingdom. The historical degree nomenclature states that they are two separate undergraduate degrees. In practice, however, they are usually combined as one and conferred together, and may also be awarded at graduate-level medical schools.

An institute of technology is an institution of tertiary education that specializes in engineering, technology, applied science, and natural sciences.

An engineer's degree is an advanced academic degree in engineering which is conferred in Europe, some countries of Latin America, North Africa and a few institutions in the United States. The degree may require a graduate thesis or dissertation at the level of a research doctorate such as a PhD.

University of applied sciences (Finland)

An ammattikorkeakoulu, abbreviated AMK, is a Finnish institution of higher education.

Universiti Putra Malaysia

University Putra Malaysia is recognised by the independent government assessments as one of Malaysia's leading research universities offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses with a focus on agricultural sciences and its related fields.

Education in Belgium Overview of education in Belgium

Education in Belgium is regulated and for the most part financed by one of the three communities: Flemish, French and German-speaking. Each community has its own school system, with small differences among them. The federal government plays a very small role: it decides directly the age for mandatory schooling and indirectly the financing of the communities.

Savonia University of Applied Sciences is a local municipality-owned Finnish institution of higher education based in the cities of Kuopio, Iisalmi and Varkaus.

The Master of Public Health or Master of Philosophy in Public Health (M.P.H.), Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH), Master of Medical Science in Public Health (MMSPH) and the Doctor of Public Health (Dr.P.H.), International Masters for Health Leadership (IMHL) are interdisciplinary professional degrees awarded for studies in areas related to public health. The MPH degree focuses on public health practice, as opposed to research or teaching. Master of Public Health programs are available throughout the world in Schools of Public Health, Programs in Public Health, Medical Schools, and Schools of Public Affairs. MPH degrees, in addition to including a core curriculum, will usually also let students pursue a specialization in a specific field, such as epidemiology, ophthalmology, biostatistics, or health management.

Tun Hussein Onn University of Malaysia

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia is a public university in Parit Raja, Batu Pahat District, Johor, Malaysia. It was formerly known as Institut Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (ITTHO) and Kolej Universiti Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (KUiTTHO). Along with other public university colleges, KUiTTHO was promoted to full university status since year 2007. The name UTHM was officially launched by the then education minister, Dato' Seri Hishammuddin Bin Tun Hussein.

Engineering education is the activity of teaching knowledge and principles to the professional practice of engineering. It includes an initial education, and any advanced education and specializations that follow. Engineering education is typically accompanied by additional postgraduate examinations and supervised training as the requirements for a professional engineering license. The length of education, and training to qualify as a basic professional engineer, is typically 8–12 years, with 15–20 years for an engineer who takes responsibility for major projects.

University of Kuala Lumpur University in Malaysia

Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) is a multi-campus technical university with its main campus based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Rated as a Tier-5 "Excellent University" by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia in 2009, 2011, and 2013 UniKL has 14 institutes spread across 12 campuses throughout Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Gombak, Cheras, Bangi, Kajang, Sepang, Taboh Naning, Pasir Gudang, Ipoh, Lumut and Kulim.

HAN University of Applied Sciences

The HAN University of Applied Sciences, mostly referred to as HAN, is one of the largest universities of applied sciences in the Netherlands. It offers bachelor and master degree programs to over 36,000 students. HAN is a knowledge institute for higher education in the Dutch province of Gelderland, with campuses in Arnhem and Nijmegen and a research center in Doetinchem.

Metropolia University of Applied Sciences

Metropolia University of Applied Sciences is the largest University of Applied Sciences in Finland situated in Helsinki metropolitan area. The university has four fields of study: culture, business, health care and social services, and technology. Teaching is also provided in English.

Centria University of Applied Sciences is a private-recognized higher education institution in Finland.

Universiti Teknologi MARA Malaysian public university

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) is a public university based primarily in Shah Alam, Malaysia, that accepts only bumiputera. It was established to help rural Malays in 1956 as the RIDA Training Centre, and opened with around 50 students. It has since grown into the largest institution of higher education in Malaysia as measured by physical infrastructure, faculty and staff, and student enrollment.


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  5. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-04-06. Retrieved 2013-02-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. "Statistical report on China's vocational education in 2018 - Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China". en.moe.gov.cn. Retrieved 2020-09-26.
  7. "University Grants Commission Act, 1956" (PDF). Union Human Resource Development Ministry . Retrieved 3 September 2011.[ permanent dead link ]
  8. "::: Professional Councils-Inside H E - University Grants Commission :::". ugc.ac.in. Retrieved 18 December 2011.
  9. University of Vocational Technology