Case Study Report FH Joanneum
Institute of Social Work (ISA)

Development of case study


In this case study the results of a desk-research and interviews are presented. In the desk-research information about FH JOANNEUM (FHJ), the website and printed publications such as “Hands on 2022” (Strategies for action) and the Annual Report 2017/2018 served as sources. For information regarding the Institute of Social Work (ISA), the institute’s website and folders of the Department of Building, Energy & Society as well as the folders of the Bachelor and Master Programme were used. For the interviews employees of ISA were interviewed in personal face-to-face settings in October and November 2019: one manager, one lecturer and one administrative staff; the interviews were conducted by Helga Moser from ISA and Sofia de Oliveira from IIB (Institute of International Management). Furthermore, a focus group (FG) was organised with faculty members of ISA and affiliated lecturers. Three ISA lecturers and one affiliated lecturer participated in the FG, which took place end of September 2019. The FG was facilitated by Helga Moser and Wolfgang Gulis. To consider viewpoints from different perspectives and include diversity of experiences also on different level, it was important to get staff from different areas and functions involved. For reasons of anonymity no further details regarding the interviewed persons are given here. In addition, Helga Moser consulted the Equality and Diversity Officer.

Description of the organisation


Institutional framework


The Institute of Social Work (ISA) is part of FH JOANNEUM – University of Applied Sciences (FHJ). FHJ consists of 6 departments with 26 institutes. It runs 27 bachelor degree programmes, 22 master degree programmes and 9 certificate programmes. 4.500 students attend the programmes, there are 1.300 graduates per year. FHJ has 680 employees and 950 external lecturers.

Mission statement of FH JOANNEUM: There is an official mission statement of FH JOANNEUM publicly available on the website. FHJ supports and promotes diversity and internationality as its values:

“FH JOANNEUM AS A SUSTAINABLE ORGANISATION Our university supports cultural diversity, an international outlook and an interdisciplinary approach – we believe diversity is enriching. We take responsibility for the common good and social development. We consider it our duty to use resources sustainably.”

The Institute of Social Work (ISA) is part of the Department of Building, Energy & Society. The Department consists of four institutes: Institute of Architecture & Management, Institute of Construction Design & Economics, Institute of Energy, Transport and Environmental Management and Institute of Social Work. The ISA runs different degree programmes, certificate programmes and research projects. The content of the teaching and research in itself focuses on issues related to social work, as expressed by the name of the institute.

The research projects at ISA cover different facets of social inclusion. Current research projects deal with the following topics (as of 2019-09): Diversity in Social Work organisations, Safety in organisations for the disabled, Digitalisation and work, Health care in rural areas, Social Work and Policing, and the project at hand DivCap. In the past, interdisciplinary projects with the other institutes of the Department were conducted. There is an interest in further interdisciplinary cooperations, and there are considerations and meetings for the initiation and planning of potential joint projects.

ISA Mission statement: In the presentation of ISA on the website, the connection of theory and practice is highlighted as an important aspect at ISA. The focus is summed up by the two key words “social inclusion” and “innovation”.

“Our teaching, studying and research revolve around social work in theory and in practice. The main focus is placed on social inclusion and innovation.” Head of the Institute Gertraud Pantucek

Inclusion is understood to support disadvantaged people in gaining access to social systems: “Inclusion means giving people at the margins of society, or in particularly precarious situations, access to relevant social systems such as education, work, homes, energy and mobility.” Here a structural or institutional perspective is apparent, by highlighting the need to support people gaining access to social systems.

Institutional in the migrant society


In the following the emphasis is on the analysis of the degree programmes (which are the main focus at ISA), but also the certificate programmes are covered, to show the spectrum of possibilities.

Composition of students

The Bachelor’s degree programme in Social Work (SAM) has 55 student placements available each year. The programme is a full-time programme and lasts for 6 semesters. The language of instruction is German; some selected lectures are in English. There is some diversity amongst the students. Regarding background, the majority of the students are from the province of Styria and other parts of Austria, very few of the local students (with an Austrian school leaving certificate) have a migration background (1-2 per cohort). Regarding international students, some students per cohort are from Germany. Regarding gender, there are more female students, in average in the cohorts 1/3 are male students. Most of the students are between 18 and 24 years old (most of them come directly from a secondary academic college or higher vocational education). Very few students have a visible disability. Regarding the educational background, the majority have a school leaving certificate, for a successful admission, applicants need to have some previous experience in social work and related fields.

The Master’s degree programme in Social Work (SOA) has 28 student placements available each year. The programme is part-time and lasts for 4 semesters. The language of instruction is German; some selected lectures are in English. There is some diversity amongst the students. The majority of the students are local students, most of them from Styria and other parts of Austria, very few with a migration background (1-2 per cohort). There are more female students, about 1/4 to 1/3 are male students. The cohorts are heterogeneous regarding age, ranging from BA graduates to social workers that attended “Sozialakademie” (social academy, a predecessor of programmes at FH) and who are 30 or 40+. There are no students with a visible disability. The educational background is diverse, there are graduated from the BA programme Social Work, social academy graduates, and from other disciplines (sociology, science of education, cultural anthropology, etc.)

Certificate programmes: Currently, there are two certificate programmes running under the head of ISA. The Certificate programme “Academic Peer counselling” (PEER, Akademische Peer-Berater*in) has 20 placements for the cohort 2018-2019. The programme lasts for 3 semesters, it is work-friendly. The target group are persons with physical or sensory disabilities. They are qualified to connect their own experiences with competences in counselling as basis for successful Peer Counseling. The certificate programme “Academic Youth and Community Worker” (INJUG, Akademische Jugend- und Gemeinwesenarbeiter*in) has 21 placements. The target group are persons working in youth work and child and youth welfare services. The programme lasts for 3 semesters. The programme is workfriendly. The language of instruction is German. The certificate programmes PEER and INJUG have a more diverse composition, reflecting the aim and purpose of the programmes.

Admission requirements and procedures

SAM: Formal requirement for the admission to the bachelor programme SAM programme is a general qualification for university entrance, a university admissions equivalency test or relevant professional qualification with additional examinations. Regarding language skills, German is the language of instruction and its knowledge (at least at level B2) is required. Basically, the same requirements apply to international applicants as to domestic students. They have the same chances of gaining a place. However, there are a few special requirements they must meet. Regarding language skills, a proof of sufficient knowledge of the teaching language German is required (this applies only to applicants with a non-German first language). Furthermore, there are special rules for non-Austrian documents. Applicants must comply with these rules in order for their application to be accepted. Regarding fees, students from third countries have to pay a fee of 727 Euro per semester. There is no fee for students from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland. The admissions procedure for SAM consists of three parts: the application, a written assessment test and a personal interview. The test consists of two parts: The general part tests the intellectual skills required for studying and the subject-specific part tests the skills specifically required for studying Social Work.

SOA: Formal requirement for the admission to the master programme SOA is a relevant Bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification. Applicants must provide evidence of proficiency in German at level B2. Regarding requirements for international students, see SAM. The admissions process consists of a full set of application documents, an assessment of the concept for your Master’s thesis, an interview with the admissions committee, an overall assessment of relevant previous qualifications, and an assessment of professional experience in the field of social work. The form of the application will also be taken into consideration.

Certificate programmes: For the certificate programmes “PEER” and “INJUG” the admission requirements diverge from the degree programmes. For the peer counselling, no formal admission requirements (e.g. school leaving certificate) are required for participation in the course. For admission to INJUG a school leaving certificate or relevant qualification are required, e.g. 2-year college for social pedagogy or vocational training and three years of relevant work experience in the field of open youth work or child and youth welfare services.

Equal opportunity strategies & barriers: For applicants with disabilities to the degree programmes, the Equality and Diversity Office at FHJ offers support to participate equally in the admission process and studies. Applicants can contact the office which will try to implement support measures and provisions. For applicants which a migration background and whose first language is not German, there is the possibility to have some extra points.

The admission commissions for SAM and SOA are composed of faculty members of ISA. In the personal admission interviews, guidelines are used. There is a list of questions that shouldn’t be asked (e.g. family situation, religion, sexual orientation), this list is used throughout the whole of FHJ for admission interviews. Criteria for successful applicants are amongst others, openness, high dedication, previous experiences and an interest in the field of social work and an understanding of what social work means, as well as commitment and motivation for further academic studies. Furthermore, reflection capacities are deemed as essential. A further quality named was being brave, since as future social workers they will work with people in exceptional circumstances. The final decision regarding admission is taken by the Head of the Institute, taking into account all parts of the admission process, aspiring for a transparent procedure with no preferential treatment and disadvantage. Applicants can inspect the documents.

Currently about 300 persons apply for the 55 places per year at the Bachelor’s programme. Hence the competition is high. There is also completion for the Master’s programme, but at a lower level, about 60 -70 persons apply for the 28 places per year. Furthermore, for specific programmes such as the certificate programmes, the requirements for admission are more flexible and correspond with the target group that should be attracted to join the programmes.

If there would not be enough applicants for all the available places, the requirements would be obsolete and no selection procedure necessary. This would set free resources that are now bound for the procedure. But on the other hand, students with very different motivations would follow the programme.

Human Resource Management


Composition of staff

The staff of ISA consists of 21 permanent staff (head, teaching (BA, MA), research, administration) and 59 affiliated lecturers (teaching BA, MA). Most of permanent staff members are Austrian citizens, 4 have a migration background from another EU-country (Croatia, Germany, Italy, UK). The majority of the staff is female (16 are female and 5 male). Staff is heterogeneous regarding age, ranging from end 20s to 60+. And also regarding “professional age”, staff is diverse. There are no visible disabilities present (except in external teaching staff for the PEER certificate programme). The professional and educational background is diverse, ranging from social workers (social academy and FH) with work experience in different fields of social work to higher education institutions. The academic background is diverse as well, ranging from sociology, science of education, cultural anthropology, language studies to law. The affiliated staff are professionals with work experience in different fields of social work and higher education institutions.

Admission of staff & equal opportunity strategies and barriers

For the manager, diversity of composition of staff is desirable. Since it would bring lived experience of diversity in the day-to-day work environment. The admission process for staff is standardised by FHJ, therefore also the admission procedure for ISA staff is embedded in a system according to the standards. Here a specific awareness on different levels would be necessary: in the admission commissions, the Division of Personnel and at the level of the institutes. For all new staff members, a support strategy mentioned in an interview was the implementation of a mentoring system, to support the connection to the team. Furthermore, staff have the possibility for supervision or coaching. Moreover, staff can attend further education seminars. Staff involved in 82 teaching has to attend the Continuing Education in University Didactics (where in the current curriculum diversity is not a topic, but a revision of the curriculum is planned). Regarding awareness raising in relation to diversity, in the winter term of 2016 a Diversity Training was offered for all FHJ staff, organised by the Equality and Diversity Officer. The training consisted of four half day modules on different aspects (Introduction to diversity research, technology and diversity; economy and diversity, disability). Currently, no workshops are offered.

Procedures for complaints: There are regulations how to deal with sexual harassment and discrimination based on gender that are laid down in the statutes by the University of Applied Sciences Board. For employees and external teachers, the contact points are the direct superior, the Equality and Diversity Office, the Human Resources Department, the Works Council and the competent Ombud for Equal Treatment. For affected students, the Representation of students’ interests at FH JOANNEUM (ÖH JOANNEUM) is the primary point of contact. Furthermore, for the support and promotion of female employees, the concept of the “Empowerment-Circle: Career“ was developed by the Equality and Diversity Office. Currently, no offers are provided.



Currently, there is no strategy to network with migrant organisations to attract more students with a migration background. For the sustainable development of a network, long-term and repeated contacts are essential. Therefore, due to a lack of resources, it is not envisaged to establish a network with migrant organisations or engage in further recruitment campaigns.

The Educational Process


At FHJ which is a University of Applied Sciences, and at SAM and SOA specifically, there is more support for the individual students, compared to the situation in other tertiary educational institutions such as the universities. An open door policy is apparent at ISA. There are no written guidelines regarding diversity and equal treatment. But the interviewed persons assume that there is a high awareness for these issues amongst staff and respectful interactions are part of the working and teaching culture at ISA.

At the bachelor programme SAM, there is a small group size (55 students per cohort) and in some courses, the cohort is subdivided into smaller seminar groups of around 15-18 students. These conditions result in a more personal relationship between lecturers and students and therefore also more individual support. If individual students need more support, this becomes quickly apparent. Furthermore, there are “practice groups” (Praxisgruppen), running from the first to the fifth semester, operating as supervision groups and the lecturers of those groups are important contact persons for students. It was observed, that students who were not socialised in the Austrian schooling system need more support to succeed in their studies. At SAM, in the new curriculum a course is dedicated to “Gender and Diversity”, since it was deemed as important that social workers deal with the subject and have knowledge about it. Furthermore, the issue of diversity and discrimination (racism, etc.) is dealt with in other courses, such as the course “Social work with Asylum Seekers and Migrants”. The SOA is part-time Master programme, so the needs of working students are taken into consideration; e.g. parts of the courses consist of online learning and the courses take place on Friday afternoons and Saturdays. Nevertheless, for some of the students, it is difficult to balance work and studies as well as private and family life. In particular overload because of the professional life and its demands is a challenge and reason for drop outs. Since one of the emphasis of the SOA curriculum is on international and intercultural social work, in several courses, issues of interculturality as well as 83 diversity are covered. When understanding social work as a critical reflexive profession, dealing with this issues is seen as an important skill for social workers, and therefore part of the curriculum. In particular, in the certificate programmes the curriculum and conditions are tailored to the needs of the students to make it accessible for students with diverse background; for example the methods of teaching, but also when it comes to physical equipment, e.g. wheel chair friendly desks were purchased for PEER.

There are few complaints by students. Most of the complaints concern grades. Each course and the lecturer are evaluated by the students through a standardised online evaluation form. If there is a big dissatisfaction, a face-to-face evaluation dialogue with student’s representatives and the lecturer concerned are conducted.

Personal Impressions of interviewed people


The Institution

Positive Negative
Beneficial conditions regarding diversity at ISA

Mission statement FHJ

  • There is a FHJ mission statement regarding diversity.

Admission of students

  • For SOA and the certificate programmes, there is more flexibility regarding admission procedure
  • No tuition fee for students (note: except international students and for the INJUG programme)
  • Special consideration of German as a second language in the SAM admission procedure

During studies

  • At the University of Applied Sciences (UAS), there are better general conditions regarding individual supervision and support in comparison to other tertiary educational institutions such as the universities.
  • Small group size: cohort of 55 students per year, many courses in smaller groups
  • Support of the students by the lecturers
  • Most students complete their studies (compared to the university, UAS is more inclusive).
  • Leave of absence (Karenzierung) is possible.
  • SOA is a part-time programme, which allows more flexibility · Attendance of events and activities by students beyond the actual courses at SAM/SOA is institutionally possible.
Hindering conditions regarding diversity at ISA

Mission statement FHJ

  • Lack of concrete implementation of the mission statement

Pre-admission conditions

  • The job description and occupational profile of social work is not attractive (e.g. for people from migrant backgrounds, social work might not be known or attractive)
  • There would be qualified migrants (graduating from high school), but they are more likely to study e.g. natural sciences or economics.
  • In other degree programmes (at FHJ) there is a higher proportion of migrants. In some degree programmes there are fewer applicants, however, these are more diverse

Admission of students

Many applications for SAM compared to the places available, there is selection process – questioning of the process is necessary

  • the usefulness of the written assessment test should be questioned
  • furthermore, the composition of the admission commission should be scrutinised (composition of employed staff, which form the commission, is not very diverse)
  • there are barriers for nostrification (formal recognition) of academic degrees and schoolleaving certificates from abroad

Composition of students

  • The composition of students is not diverse regarding age, gender, migration background, disability, socio-cultural background (of parents)

During studies

  • Attendance of events and activities by students beyond the actual courses at SAM/SOA is possible, but higher need of explanations and bureaucracy
  • Social inclusion of diverse students (amongst the students group) is a challenge
  • “High speed” – is a challenge for students with a disability or who speak German as a second language
  • Low flexibility regarding adaptable criteria and methods for assessment to take into account the different background of students. Since FHJ is a higher education institution, certain standards must be observed (e.g. for BA thesis)

Composition of staff

  • The composition of employees (both employed and external) is not diverse in terms of some characteristics, the representativeness is questioned (e.g. when it comes to migration background)

Commitment with mission statement and diversity policy


Amongst staff, there are different levels of awareness regarding the mission statement and diversity
policy. Some of the staff has a lower consciousness regarding diversity and concrete policy at FHJ and
ISA. But there is also staff that has a high awareness about diversity and equal treatment issues.

What should be changed?


Based on the analysis of the written documents, interviews and the focus group, the following aspects are important to highlight.

MANAGER – FH level

FH mission statement

  • In terms of implementing the mission statement of the FH, the diversity orientation needs to be seen as a task that has to be implemented by the Head of the Institutes as well as at the departmental level in order to focus more on diversity as a cross-sectional matter.
  • Since the area of responsibility and study courses of the FH are very broad, it would be suggested that the degree programmes develop their own mission statements to be able to refer to the specific requirements.
  • Upgrading of the Equality and Diversity Office and allocation of sufficient resources

Collaboration between the Departments

  • The openness to diversity and inclusion also applies to the Department of Building, Energy and Society. The self-image is also expressed in the basic positioning of the department which focuses on networked and interdisciplinary cooperation and diversity-oriented planning for the future. In practice, however, there are few points of contact between the institutes, in terms of content, interdisciplinary as well as organizational. A common cooperative exchange structure within the department is suggested to identify the manifold points of intersections of the different research and teaching areas, to promote exchange and focus as well as cooperation.

Admission of staff

  • Deepened awareness about diversity issues and equality in the selection procedure amongst the different stakeholders dealing with the procedure (e.g. admission commission, Division of Personnel), e.g. implementation for instruments for transparent and plausible recruitment and appointment policy, participation of the Equality and Diversity Office

MANAGER – institute level

Profile of social work

  • There is a considerable need for explanation regarding the job description and profile of social work. For many people it is not easy to understand what a social worker is trained for and what his/her tasks are. This is all the more important when it comes to wanting to attract people with migration history. It would be advisable to have an internal discussion to raise the profile of social workers and to sharpen and differentiate it, and to be aware of the diversity of the job descriptions from other countries and systems.

STUDENTS: Recruitment and admission

  • Address targeted communities: There is no need for more applications. For SAM, there are many applicants per year (300), and 55 students are accepted per year. And also for SOA, there are more applications than can be accepted (about 70 applications, 28 students per cohort). However, there is a need to address targeted communities and institutions that could serve as multipliers to attract people with diverse backgrounds to the profession.
  • Data and quality assurance: There is only few data available, for example on the sociodemographic and -economic background of the students who have applied for the degree programmes and those accepted to the programme. Only perceptions and assumptions can be made. The management thus lacks essential data in order to be able to undertake control-policy measures in order to be able to answer, for example, the representativeness or accuracy of the selection procedures.
  • Admission procedures: There is a selection procedure for students, which has been used for years. This procedure is determined by the FHJ, but can be adapted by the institute. It is important to ensure, in the context of quality assurance in the selection process, that the requirements that are placed on the prospective students are harmonized with the actual requirements for the studies and further on, for the profession (social work). Different aspects of the selection procedure could be improved: First of all, the high importance of the written assessment test should be questioned. Currently, the test makes up 50 % of the total rating (as specified in the current programme application (Studiengangsantrag)). If the test makes up less of the total rating, the other components of the procedure would need to me redeveloped. As a further critical aspect, it should be noted that the test is strongly attached to the competences acquired in the Austrian school system and a barrier for applicants socialised in a different system. Second, regarding the admission interview, the admission commission should have a diverse composition, here one measure could be the extension by external experts. Furthermore, the questionnaire could be supplemented with diversity-oriented questions and by taking into account diversity dimensions and categories. In addition to the individual selection of applicants, an overall 86 review of the degree programmes in terms of heterogeneity of students could be made and taken into account when doing the final selection.
  • Complaints: So far there is no known possibility to file a complaint against the selection procedure itself. For these cases, a separate complaint management should be set up.

STUDENTS: support measures during studies

  • The already existing support for students by lecturers could be supplemented by a buddy system.
  • It is recommended that more time flexibility should be introduced as part of the study process to enable students with special challenges (such as employment, children, German as a second language, dyslexia, etc.) to achieve their goals.
  • Furthermore, it should be considered how more flexibility can be achieved within the timetable. This serves to initiate visits or interdisciplinary projects.

STAFF: composition of staff & recruitment

  • The composition of staff is currently not very heterogeneous. This statement concerns both the full-time staff and the external lecturers. It has also been stated that there are few applications from social workers for placement and teaching.
  • Especially in the staff that are mainly intended for teaching, possibilities should be found that in addition to the scientific qualifications and formal criteria, for example practical knowledge, comprehensive educational experience, connectivity between theory and practice, are included in the application procedure. Diversity competences and migration biographical expertise should be given a higher priority in the selection criteria. This would also be particularly important when appointing external lecturers.

STAFF: Exchange about the work culture at the institute

  • It would also be necessary to investigate the question which modes of action operate at ISA, such as how to establish a culture of failure management, how to deal with the opposite pair “competition and cooperation” and how to teach at ISA. And which significance and value is given to diversity and inclusion at the level of the institute and in the study programes.


Suggestions for further support

  • Employees meet the topic of diversity orientation and equal treatment with favour. Some of the lecturers are dealing with these issues in their research and teaching. However, the time resources are scarce and organizational structures are not conducive for an exchange about the content and a necessary deepening of the subject matter. Therefore, resources and spaces for exchange should be made available. To make this realistic, ideas could be collected, how these could be integrated in already existing structures and formats.
  • In terms of concrete implementation steps there are several ideas, e.g.
    • more teamwork and team-teaching o the establishment of regular discourse spaces
    • further training opportunities (e.g. Continuing Education in University Didactics /HDW and in seminars of the Summer Business School)
    • joint development and agreements regarding common rules of conduct and content guidelines within staff
    • discussion of diversity-oriented contents and issues of the international scientific community


Suggestions for further support

  • Administrative staff should be involved in joint development and agreements regarding common rules of conduct and content guidelines

What should not be changed?


Based on the analysis of the written documents, interviews and the focus group, the following aspects are important to highlight.

MANAGER – FH level

Mission statement

  • It is positive, that there is a mission statement that endorses diversity and equality. · There are structural measures in place that support equality, e.g. the “Working Group on Equal Treatment Issues” of the USA Board and the “Equality and Diversity Office”.

STUDENTS: framework conditions

  • There are no tuition fees for students (from the EU, the EEA and Switzerland).
  • The small group size of the cohorts is a big plus during the studies. Support for students is therefore much better compared to other tertiary institutions.
  • This is also expressed by the fact that most of the students at FHJ and ISA complete their studies.
  • It is possible to take leave during studies

MANAGER – institute level


  • Open door policy and individual support for students
  • The certificate programmes could be used as good practice examples for open and inclusive programmes aiming at attracting students with diverse backgrounds and enabling them to study at a higher education institution.


  • Commitment for diverse staff by the manager
  • Open door policy


Support to students

  • Support for students by appointed lecturers and also by other lecturers that have an open door policy

Support for staff

  • Staff can approach the head of the institute
  • Peer support: staff is supporting each other, when questions arise


the following support is there for admin staff:

  • support from head
  • support from colleagues

Analysis, interpretations


The language regarding diversity within the organisation


There is an awareness about diversity at ISA, considering different aspects of diversity.

Significant differences in the way people are looking at and thinking about the diversity in the organisation


At ISA, there are different levels of awareness regarding diversity. Amongst the interviewed, there is a wide range of understanding and knowledge regarding FHJ mission statement, diversity and diversity policies. On one side, amongst some there is low consciousness regarding diversity and concrete policy at FHJ and ISA. On the other side, there is staff that has a high awareness about diversity and equal treatment issues in their teaching. Some are also dealing with these issues in their research.

Arrangements and power relations


The institute is part of FH JOANNEUM, a big higher education provider. The shareholders’ agreement of FH JOANNEUM Gesellschaft mbH stipulates the following governing bodies: Scientific Managing Director, Financial Managing Director, General Assembly, and the Supervisory Board. The governing bodies also include the heads of the individual degree programmes and the University of Applied Sciences (UAS) Board. There are different departments and units with different responsibilities. For the admission process of new students, in particular the administrative side, the responsible unit is the Division of Continuing Education, Study Administration and Study Law. For the recruitment of new staff, the Division of Personnel and Legal Services is the responsible unit.

The Federal Act on Programmes of Universities of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschul-Studiengesetz, FHStG) is the relevant law regulating the policies and principles. For accreditation of degree programmes, the “Agentur für Qualitätssicherung und Akkreditierung Austria (AQ Austria)” (Agency for Quality Assurance and Accreditation Austria) is responsible. For the approval of new curricula for degree programmes and courses, the “innovation committee” (“Innovationsausschuss”, a committee composed of members of the UAS Board) is the responsible unit.

Regarding quality management, FHJ is certified with different quality labels and certificates. Regarding equality of women and men, a big commitment prevails. In the Statutes of the UAS board, measures for the Equality of Women and Men and Provisions on the Advancement of Women at FHJ are determined. In the Statues a “Working Group on Equal Treatment Issues” is stipulated. Furthermore, in the Statutes of the board on measures for the Equality of Women and Men, the “Equality and Diversity Office” is stipulated. The Office promotes diversity management in relation to different diversity categories of students, employees, and lecturers. It has initiated measures and offers support for applicants or students with disabilities. And it also endorses equal treatment when it comes to migration, religion and ethnicity.

From the description of the structures it becomes evident, that laws regulate the work environment and formal requirements prevail. A lot of different entities are involved in the running of FHJ. But there is also scope for flexibility responding to the needs of diverse students and staff, promoted by e.g. the Equality and Diversity Office.

Motives and motivations to work on diversity policy in the organisation


Since the awareness varies, there are also different motives and motivations amongst staff. Amongst most, there is an awareness, that there is a need to be more inclusive. But there is a lack of resources perceived to develop towards a more inclusiveness. In particular time and financial resources are highlighted. Furthermore, formal requirements and regulated processes in a higher education institution in general and at FHJ are seen as barriers as well.

Possible benefits for the learners


Promoting diversity at ISA and at FHJ in general, would have a more inclusive organisation as its goal. This would be beneficial for applicants from diverse backgrounds, who were at a disadvantage in the past to gain access to ISA. Furthermore, it also would improve the experience of students during the educational process, leading to a successful completion of their studies and contribute to equal opportunity.

Stage of the organisation


7. intercultural organisation
6. intercultural diversity management
5. cross-cultural HRM policy
4. inflow of migrant workers
3. intercultural service management
2. service to migrants
1. monocultural organization

Scroll over then names of the stages to get a definition of them

  1. My organisation has migrants among its clients: yes, there are students with a migration background, but only very few each cohort.
  2. In my organization an intercultural training has been done aimed at improving sales to migrants. Currently, no concrete trainings in relation to diversity for staff are provided (e.g. as part of Continuing Education in University Didactics / HDW). But a Diversity Training for staff took place in 2016. Also as part of the Didactics day 2019 one of the lectures covered the issue of racism.
  3. My organisation has a policy aimed at improving sales or services to migrants. Yes, e.g. in the admission procedure of ISA, there are extra points for applicants with German as a second language.
  4. My organisation employs (a) migrant worker(s): few staff with a migration background, mainly from other EU countries.
  5. My organisation has a policy aimed at the influx of migrant workers: FHJ has a mission statement promoting diversity. Commitment for implementation could be improved.
  6. In my organisation there has been an intercultural training on how to improve intercultural cooperation or leadership. The focus of the trainings is on diversity, not only interculturality (see question 2).
  7. My organisation has an intercultural personnel policy: In the mission statement, diversity is part of the selfimage. A reference to this self-image is part of the job advertisement and people with diverse personal backgrounds are specifically invited to apply.
  8. In my organisation, intercultural policy is a natural part of diversity policy. FHJ has a broad definition of diversity, including different dimensions such as gender, disability and migration. Regarding gender, in the statues of USA board, a lot of equal treatment measures are taken. Also when it comes to disability, support for students is available. Regarding migration, the aspect language skills is taken into account when it comes to admission procedures at ISA (but the written test remains a barrier).
  9. In my organisation, intercultural policy is a natural part of general quality policy with regard to sales/service provision and personnel. Partly, as far as know. There is an awareness regarding diversity, but how far this is reflected in quality policies and quality management (tools), needs further research.

It is apparent, that the institution is on an advanced level in their intercultural and diversity management. Formally there is an advanced diversity policy at FHJ. In the mission statement there is a commitment to diversity. For example, measures when it comes to equal treatment for women are taken, in relation to the USA board’s commitment to the Advancement of Women. Or also a training to raise awareness and knowledge about diversity was organised for staff by the Equality and Diversity Office. But for a concrete level and for further implementation, improvement on the level of FHJ and ISA could be made.

Change and consequences


What is change here actually?

  • As seen in the chapter on arrangements, ISA is part of a big organisation. The implementation of measures for improvement will need to consider the structures of FHJ, formal requirements, the different entities and key players.
  • Since there is high performance pressure and lack of time in the daily work, new measures, ideas for improvement and change need to be linked with already existing routines and structures.

What does it mean for the education process?

  • Increase of equality regarding the admission of diverse students to FHJ.
  • Increase of equality regarding studying in an environment that considers diverse needs.

What does it mean for the management at ISA level?

  • Clear positioning for the advantages of diversity.
  • Looking for resources to support the process (human, financial, intellectual, time)
  • Finding ways to integrate the improvements in the daily routines, but also make time and space for new routines.

What does it mean for the staff?

  • Increase of equality regarding the admission of diverse staff to FHJ
  • Being better prepared to work with diverse students
  • Finding ways to integrate the improvements in the daily routines, but also make time and space for new routines

What does it means for the organisation?

Needed resources

  • Clear positioning for the advantages of diversity
  • Resources for the implementation of measures for improvement (time, financial resources)
    • Time for reflection and refining of the mission statement
    • Adequate allocation of resources for staff for training and exchange


  • Getting better qualified and diverse staff
  • Having more diverse students
  • Better performance in the public



Our recommendations are:

  1. Reviving, further spreading, mainstreaming, or strengthening of already / once existing measures to promote diversity at FHJ and ISA
    Make the FHJ mission statement more lively and specific for ISA

    • Concrete short term measure: workshop with staff on diversity and inclusive Institute of Social work, development of a diversity mission statement (including topics of point 2 and 3)
  2. Diversification of the composition of students
    Setting up networks with migrant organisations to target applicants with a migration background

    • Concrete short term measure: establish contacts with migrants organisations
    • Long term measure: maintain the network

    Making the admission process more inclusive

    • Concrete short term measure: workshop with staff that forms the admission commission for the personal interviews to raise awareness about diversity
    • Long term measure: revision of the application procedure in the next programme application for SAM and SOA
  3. Supportive conditions for diverse students & staff dealing with diverse students
    1. Teaching methods
    2. Assessment of students
      • Concrete short term measure: exchange amongst staff in a workshop about existing and already used strategies and approaches for inclusive teaching and assessing to promote equality amongst diverse students.
    3. Diversification of the composition of staff


What is the right approach for this way of changing?


For FHJ, according to the colour model of De Caluwe & Vermaak (2018) the yellow print approach could be interesting. To bring different stakeholders together that are interested in promoting a move towards more equality and diversity at FHJ in a process of negotiating to come to viable solutions and to create a win-win situation and to form new coalitions. This process of change is a top structuring process, which need the full support and initiating and activating attitude of the management.

Commitment with Management and Staff


Management and staff are open towards diversity issues and interested in developing towards a more inclusive institute.

  • Concrete short term measure: keeping diversity in mind during the next recruitment
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