Job and university in one - dual study courses provide this

Does combining a job and studying on a dual study course lead to too much stress, or is it the perfect start in the world of work? The model offers plenty of benefits for students and those setting out on their careers.

The dual study course model is becoming increasingly popular. Each year, more and more school leavers with the university entrance qualification are opting to combine a job with studying. But does it actually make sense to complete a dual study course, or is it too stressful? 

Dual study course - increasing numbers of offers

"Dual refers to a close link between job and degree," says Sigrun Nickel, head of the university research section at the Centre for Higher Education Development (CHE). Typically, learning occurs in at least two locations - at the university and in a company.

"It is mainly disciplines with a large practical component which are offered as dual study courses," explains Silvia Hofmann from the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB). Alongside the areas of engineering, business administration and information technology, increasing numbers of offers are also available in social services, nursing, education, and health.

Dual study course - a complicated application process

There are two stages to the application process and it begins with the search for a training position. The grade received in the higher-level school leaving certificate is not the most important factor. In most cases, who receives the position is determined by the assessment centre, recruitment tests and interviews at the companies cooperating in the programme.

Killian Hein also had to go through this process. In order to gain a university place to study Industry Management at the European University of Applied Sciences in Brühl, he first applied to one of the training companies cooperating in the programme with the university. He was not able to apply for a university place until he had approval from the company.

A packed timetable, not much free time

Most dual study courses follow a block model in which theory and practice alternate. There are benefits to this close integration. "By working in the company, it is easier for me to understand how everything comes together," says Hein.

But student life is different. When others have holidays at the end of the semester, dual students generally have to work. The timetable for the days spent at university also tends to be quite packed. "A dual study course is therefore mainly for those who are more practically oriented," says Sirikit Krone from the Institute of Work, Skills and Training at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Training salary and often no university costs

As compensation for their hard work, dual students receive a training salary throughout the entire duration of the degree. How much this is depends on the course, the sector, and the company. The salary is generally between €500 to €1,500.

If the company also covers the costs for the university, students are often required to stay on at the company for a specific period of time after completing the degree. And it is often the case that anybody dropping out of the degree is required to pay back the tuition fees.

Good employment opportunities as a result of the dual study course 

However, those making it through the degree are rewarded with good employment opportunities. "The company wants to train highly qualified skilled workers to meet their requirements and wants to commit them to the company at an early stage", says Hofmann from BIBB. Graduates, however, cannot expect a higher starting salary or more responsibility.

Kilian Hein paid for university himself and received a regular salary - even during his semester abroad in Seoul, South Korea. His period abroad was one of the conditions he made to the company. It is best to discuss requirements such as these in advance and have them recorded in a contract.

Different models of dual study courses

With a dual study course, the amount of time you spend at university and in the workplace, and what qualifications you have after this, all depend on the study model. The following provides an overview.

Training-integrated dual study course: Those opting for this model must have the university or university of applied sciences entrance qualification. In most cases the degree takes four to five years. Alongside the bachelor’s degree, students complete government approved training in the company. At the end of this, they have both a bachelor’s degree as well as the qualification from the Chamber of Trade/Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK/HWK).

Practice-integrated dual study course: The university or university of applied sciences entrance qualification are also needed for this. The practical phases generally take place during periods when there are no lectures–either in a permanent training company or in the form of placements–involving various companies. After studying for three to four years you receive the bachelor's qualification.

Occupation-integrated dual study course: The occupation-integrated dual study course is offered to employed persons who have completed their training. When studying at the university you are released by your employer. For the period of study, you generally work less, often on a part-time basis. It takes around three to four years to gain the higher education qualification.

Career-integrated dual study course: This provision is also aimed at employed persons with completed training. For around three to four years they study at the weekend or after work, in a similar way to distance learning, and continue to work on a full-time basis. In most cases you are released by your employer for the examinations.

Source: (German news website), revised by iMOVE, December 2020