Ten years of master’s studies: Looking back, looking forward

26.09.2019 The master’s programme at BFH-HAFL was launched in 2009. Much has happened since then. At the master’s symposium, experts, sector representatives and alumni reviewed what has been achieved, discussed current challenges and expressed wishes for the future.

“Ten years may not sound very much,” commented Magdalena Schindler, Director of BFH-HAFL, in her welcoming address at the event marking the anniversary of the master’s programme at the university of applied sciences. “But before that you studied for three years and that was it. Anyone who wanted to continue their studies had to go abroad.” The introduction of the master’s degree at universities of applied sciences – made possible by the new degree structure promoted under the Bologna reform – marks a milestone in the Swiss university landscape.

Intercultural exchange is enriching

A milestone and at the same time the starting signal for the continuous development of the Master in Life Sciences at BFH-HAFL. “The rising student numbers and the labour market’s interest in our alumni show that we have got a lot of things right,” concluded Urs Scheidegger, Head of Programme at BFH-HAFL, in his address. Graduates benefit not only from the focus on methodological skills but also from the international mix of students. “These experiences of intercultural exchange can be very enriching.”

The international orientation was also touched on in the speech by Herbert Binggeli, President of Bern University of Applied Sciences. One in three students studying at BFH for a master’s degree comes from abroad. “We must definitely try to persuade more of our own students to work towards a master’s.” For in future it will be essential to recruit more lecturers and researchers from the university’s own ranks. “That is important in order to strengthen and enhance the profile of the universities of applied science,” said Herbert Binggeli in his summing up.

Different but equivalent

Honing the profile to distinguish the BFH master’s degree from a university one was a topic that was also addressed in the concluding podium discussion. The participants agreed that the university of applied sciences master’s still needs to become established – not least in the minds of employers. “The two master’s are different but equivalent. We may need to become better at communicating the difference,” commented Eva Reinhard, Head of Agroscope. There was far less agreement in the debate on the admission of graduates of universities of applied sciences to doctorate programmes at a university.


  Welcome by Dr Magdalena Schindler Stokar, Director BFH-HAFL and Dr Urs Scheidegger, Head of Master’s Studies BFH-HAFL  
  Key note: Different but equivalent – 10 years of master’s studies at Swiss universities of applied sciences
Prof Dr Herbert Binggeli, President BFH
  Panel discussion: Options and challenges in designing demand-driven master’s studies
With Dr Eva Reinhard, Head of Agroscope; Dr Peter Braun, CEO Swiss Food Research; Dr Jean-Nicolas Aebischer, Director, School of Engineering and Architecture of Fribourg; Dr Filippo Lechthaler, Designated Head Master Studies BFH-HAFL; Mélanie Feurer, MSc alumna and scientific collaborator BFH-HAFL.
Moderation: Robert Lehmann, BFH-HAFL

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Category: Research, Studies, University of applied sciences