Trinational continuing education programs: Interview with working group leader Romina Junk

One of the main topics of KTUR is scientific continuing education. Within the framework of the project, the team will create trinational offers, which suit the immediate needs of companies from the Upper Rhine region and consider the different legal aspects in the involved countries. We spoke with Romina Junk, leader of the KTUR working group and head of the Insitute for Scientific Continuing Education at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, about the current state and challenges in designing trinational continuing education programs. 

Prof. Franz Quint
Romina Junk

Leader of the KTUR-work package „Continuing education“ are Professor Franz Quint, Vice Rector for Research, Cooperation and Quality Management at  Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (UAS), and Romina Junk, Head of the Institute and our interview partner.

Other involved institutions in the work package are the University of Strasbourg, UAS Offenburg and UAS Kaiserslautern. Needs related to Switzerland are naturally taken into account for the further development of the offer, even if no partner from Switzerland is currently part of the working group.

Ms. Junk, please give us a little more information about the work package.

In order to offer the companies of the Upper Rhine region continuing education courses, which suit the immediate needs and consider the different legal aspects in the involved countries, we identified in the definition phase of the offers the needs of companies in the Upper Rhine region with special emphasis to the “hot” topics: Digitization, Artificial Intelligence, Agile and Digital Leadership and Industry 4.0. Our current focus is on the latter topic: Industry 4.0.

As well, the different formats of continuing education courses like lectures, workshops, coaching have been taken into consideration and analysed, which of them best suit to the intended audience.

The cross-border particularities like different management culture, the importance of continuing education in the professional life and the different legal framework played a crucial role in defining courses at which professionals from all countries of the Upper Rhine region can participate.

Finally, the length of the courses, the importance of accreditation and of granting ECTS-credits as well as other didactic details had to be defined.

As a result we created a document in which the format fulfilling best all the aforementioned aspects is described. This document can also serve as a blueprint for future development of offerings. At the moment we work hard to develop a concrete course offer. The quality of the offer will be ensured by a committee to be founded with participants from the participating universities, which will also define the framework plan described above once again.


What challenges does a cross-national working group face when it comes to designing concrete continuing education programs?

First of all, coordinating the organizational framework conditions and finding a common denominator for several participating countries entails an increased effort. In addition to country-specific vacation periods, the concrete requirements for the training courses must also be specified: Should offers take place in the course of the week or at the weekends? What are the wishes for the offer: should it run over several weeks or be held as a block event? Are online or face-to-face courses preferred? Is the focus on certificates, ECTS points or rather on application orientation and practical relevance?

The needs identified on the basis of the experience of the participating continuing education institutions were found to be quite the same in the countries concerned: the offering should tend to be bundled, with a lot of practical relevance. The possibility of acquiring ECTS, on the other hand, is seen as rather secondary. University certificates appear to be important primarily with a view to quality assurance, less so because they can be credited to a course of study.


Have you already developed key content areas for the continuing education program?

As said before our focus is on the topic of Industry 4.0. The further intensification of the topics covered will take place in a further work step. This is also provided for in the project plan, which we are fortunately able to adhere to despite the imponderables caused by the global pandemic.


In your opinion, what benefits are emerging and motivate people to “look beyond the border”?

There are topics, such as Industry 4.0, that need to be considered internationally. A look at neighboring countries is a good first step. With a view to the organization of processes and also with regard to the level of skilled labor, companies that have locations in different countries naturally have a great interest in taking advantage of certain offers across borders.


What would you like to see in the field of cross-border cooperation especially in the field of continuing education?

I would like to see us succeed in creating sustainable offerings that remain established on the market in the long term. The companies involved in the first round of offers should remember us as good partners for cross-border continuing education and actively ask us when it comes to designing new offers and generating innovative offers for new subject areas.


Thank you very much!


Author: Dr. Kathrin Jörg / Romina Junk, Copyright Pictures: Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences 

The Institute for Scientific Continuing Education at Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences (UAS Karlsruhe)

The Institute for Scientific Continuing Education at the UAS Karlsruhe has been promoting and organizing interdisciplinary, international and high-quality continuing education programs for more than 20 years. Application orientation, closeness to business and practical relevance are just as much a focus of the courses as the scientific basis. Renowned professors and experts from business and industry train the participants and pass on their knowledge and experience to the students. In addition to part-time master’s degree programs, the UAS Karlsruhe also offers a variety of certificate programs and seminars in the fields of business, engineering, computer science, media management, and architecture. The institute develops – also together with companies – high-quality continuing education programs and conducts in-house seminars. Through close cooperation with companies, the institute achieves the link between scientific research and its implementation in industry.