Small universities - international or provincial?

More and more students are understanding the global employments prospects that a small university can offer, says Oswin Maurer
March 7 2017

Nowadays, students seem to select their study programme, as well as their university, more carefully than in the past.

Big name universities or programs are certainly more aspired for, hoping that the big name will support shaping a future career.

That trend is still continuing, but surprisingly, a parallel trend has emerged over the last years.


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Smaller universities, with tailored study programmes, low professor to student ratios (below 1:25 in BSc programmes) are providing competencies beyond the mainstream. They are becoming increasingly popular in delivering programmes at a world-class standard and hence enabling students/graduates to be competitive at a global scale.

The Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, and particularly the Faculty of Economics and Management, is an example for such an excelling institution developing in parallel to the major trend.

Having been founded 20 years ago and located in the Dolomites (Italy), the common expectation would be skiing, the pleasures of the mountains and not much more.


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The reality is that students do have excellent global job prospects, with 80 per cent of graduates being employed in appropriate positions within one year (whereas the other 20 per cent are pursuing further studies), being ranked second among all Italian universities in management research (with the number one, Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies Pisa, not offering undergraduate programmes), achieving top 20 status in the Time Higher Education's global ranking of small universities, and being ranked among the top five in other rankings. Furthermore, there are three teaching languages (German, Italian and English), which opens up more opportunities for future jobs.

"Diamond in the Dolomites", as a colleague recently described the university, may describe Faculty of Economics and Management and the university appositely. Diamonds do need elaborate work and expertise to finally coruscate. Being part of this process the teaching, learning and research endeavours is the most beneficial gain for students in undergraduate programmes at small universities, since this does not rely on text book teaching, but involves experiential learning in close daily contact and exchange with their peers.

 Oswin Maurer is the dean of the Faculty of Economics and Management at the University of Bozen-Bolzano

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