Is engineering degree good

The "graduate engineer" still has a hard time

Jörg Biesler: The designated rector of the Technical University of Dresden, Hans Müller-Steinhagen, campaigned very aggressively in an inaugural lecture for the diploma as a degree, that was about two weeks ago, and we reported on it at "Campus & Karriere". It followed a declaration of intent by the TU9 Association of Technical Universities, which wanted the diploma as an additional degree in addition to a Bachelor's and Master's degree. At the weekend, Federal Education Minister Annette Schavan took a very proactive approach to the diploma - a number of universities still offer diploma courses, especially the technical universities, including the one in Dresden. Ernst Schmachtenberg is the President of the Alliance of Technical Universities TU9 and Rector of RWTH Aachen University. Good afternoon, Mr. Schmachtenberg!

Ernst Schmachtenberg: Yes, good afternoon, Mr. Biesler!

Biesler: At the RWTH in Aachen there are currently no diploma courses, you have completely switched to Bachelor and Master. Will that change now in the future, perhaps in concert with all technical universities?

Schmachtenberg: Ah, not quite right. We are still in the process of completing the existing diploma courses ...

Biesler: But you can no longer register?

Schmachtenberg: Today you can only enroll in the Bachelor / Master system. What I wanted to try to explain is: We have changed the process, but we are trying to get the same result in this new, two-cycle process. That means that someone who first studies the bachelor's and then the master's in engineering with us will be just as well trained as the graduate engineer. And that's why we want - and that is the real core - to be able to award these graduates the academic degree of Diplomingenieur again. That's actually what the argument is about.

Biesler: This means that the TU9 would like to keep the study system with Bachelor and Master as it is at the moment - no separate diploma courses set up - but the title, Diplomingenieur, for example, should come out at the back so that you can rely on it, that what was previously offered under this title is still there today?

Schmachtenberg: Yes exactly. I'll just say we have improved the process, just like Daimler-Benz is introducing new welding processes in production, if you like, but of course it is still a Mercedes-Benz in terms of rating. With us, it's still a well-trained engineer, and that's called a graduate engineer.

Biesler: In Dresden they go a little further, in the computer science faculty, for example, they wish that this division would also be abolished, i.e. a three-year bachelor's degree and then a two-year master's degree, that is too inflexible. But you can't imagine such a basic regulation?

Schmachtenberg: Yes and no, we discussed this and we are of the opinion that the transition from Bachelor to Master must be made more flexible and better. You said just now, we have introduced the courses, we are in the process of introducing them, with the introduction we also see the difficulties, and we see a very important difficulty in this transition. And that's why we at TU9 have made the demand on the flags: Those who do their bachelor's with us have the right to study the master's in order to take the pressure off the students, who already believe they have to test the math with a 1.0 in the first semester so that you can continue studying afterwards, which is of course nonsense. Rather, we have to ensure that the good bachelor's degrees also have the right to complete their engineering training and do a master's.

Biesler: So you could say, reduced to the formal, that the master’s title leads to a diploma?

Schmachtenberg: Incidentally, this is also what the Austrian University Act says. The arrangements were very clever, the graduate engineer is a master’s degree. That means, if you study engineering in Austria in the modern Bachelor-Master-System, for example at the TU-Wien, you will end up with the academic degree Master ... the academic degree Diplomingenieur - you see, now I'm starting ... .

Biesler: Yes, don't you think that this confusion will also be carried over to the students, who at the moment are perhaps just happy to have come to terms with the Bachelor and Master?

Schmachtenberg: I can give you two answers: One is, when I talk to my students about engineering, they are sad that they can no longer achieve the academic degree that their parents and grandfathers obtained - and there is no good reason to explain that either. And the second answer about the variety of academic degrees comes to mind: When I go to the supermarket to shop at the weekend, I find 100 types of yoghurt on the shelf, and the consumer can handle it, and the HR directors of our corporations claim they cannot handle more than two degrees. That's impossible.

Biesler: But the North Rhine-Westphalian University Act no longer provides for a diploma at all. How do you want to achieve, there must be a change in the law, so that you can award the title again in the future?

Schmachtenberg: It is very interesting that if you look through the last resolutions of the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, it was clearly formulated a little softer that, so to speak, academic traditions with their academic degrees will be incorporated into the new system, and I also think that the ministers, in their reform frenzy, should be allowed to do so have gone far. We got rid of things that shouldn't have been eliminated because of Bologna. Austria shows us how. I just have to give the ball back and say, please stop this regulation mania, and rightly give back the right to universities to award their degrees as they deem appropriate.