zfh at a glance
zfh - Zentrum für Fernstudien im Hochschulverbund: Since 12 September 2018, this has been the new name of the Zentralstelle für Fernstudien an Fachhochschulen (ZFH), which was founded in 1995 as an academic institution of the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Saarland and has its registered office at Koblenz University of Applied Sciences.
On the basis of the State Treaty on Distance Learning at Universities of Applied Sciences, the zfh promotes and supports the development and implementation of distance learning at state universities of applied sciences and now cooperates with 21 universities in eight German states in the zfh university network.
Since the founding of the zfh, the number of students has risen continuously. There are now over 6,700 students enrolled in distance learning at the participating universities of applied sciences. The trend is rising, because the distance learning programmes offered by the universities of applied sciences impart sought-after skills in a blended learning format - a varied mixture of guided self-study, online teaching and application-oriented attendance phases. In this way, they offer all those interested in studying the necessary flexibility to continue their education successfully alongside work and private commitments.
Historically, the range of distance learning courses offered by the zfh university network is linked to the continuing education initiative of the Rhineland-Palatinate Ministry of Science, which was based on the recommendations of the Science Council in 1992. The State Treaty on Distance Learning at Universities of Applied Sciences, ratified in 1998, forms the legal basis for the zfh as a cross-state university network.
The distance learning courses are aimed at university graduates as well as professionals who have acquired relevant professional experience for several years. But also for people who are re-entering the workforce or who would like to reorient themselves, a wide range of opportunities for subsequent and higher qualification open up here.
In addition to the continuing distance learning programmes, undergraduate distance learning programmes with a Bachelor's degree enable people with relevant professional experience and a university entrance qualification to acquire a first university degree while continuing to work.
The distance learning courses can be taken in the form of a complete course of study lasting four to six semesters, but also in the form of selected modules. The chosen course of study and the duration of study then also determine the degrees, which range from continuing education certificates and individual certificates to Bachelor's and Master's degrees. All zfh distance learning courses with the academic goal of a Bachelor's or Master's degree are certified by accreditation agencies and are thus internationally recognised.
The range of courses currently extends to over 100 distance learning programmes and includes social science, economics and technical subjects.
The distance learning courses are conducted by the professors of the participating universities in cooperation with the zfh. The study concept of distance learning in the zfh university network corresponds to the blended learning format - a flexible mixture of self-study and attendance phases in combination with digitally supported teaching-learning components, with the help of which the study content is taught largely independent of time and place. The professors act both as teachers and as authors of the academic study materials specially developed for distance learning. Together with the zfh, the teams of the universities' study programmes ensure close supervision of the distance learning students. The zfh is responsible for student administration and parts of the study organisation, provides support in public relations and marketing, and offers comprehensive initial counselling on distance learning to prospective students.
Administration and Organisation
Prof. Dr. Ralf Haderlein has been in charge of the zfh since 1 September 2008. As Vice President of Koblenz University of Applied Sciences and Professor of the Department of Social Sciences, Prof. Dr. Haderlein is also the course director of the Bachelor's distance learning course " Bildungs- und Sozialmanagement mit Schwerpunkt frühe Kindheit (B.A.)" as well as the Master's distance learning course "Kindheits- und Sozialwissenschaften (M.A.)" and, in addition to his interdisciplinary scientific background, has many years of practice in the field of developing and implementing distance learning at universities.
Mr Marc Bludau has been the ZFH managing director since 1 January 2011.
He gained his management and university experience at Fachhochschule Worms - University of Applied Sciences, where he held responsibility for the topics "reorganisation of administration-EDP", "student affairs", "international university marketing", as well as "studies and teaching".
The deputy management is in the hands of Dr. phil. Margot Klinkner, educational scientist with extensive professional experience in distance learning development, higher education marketing, quality management and academic continuing education at universities of applied sciences. Dr. Klinkner has been working for the zfh since 1 April 1997. As chair of the Landesgruppe Rheinland-Pfalz und Saarland, she has represented the zfh since February 2013 on an honorary basis at the state level and on the board of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung und Fernstudium (DGWF) e.V. (German Association for Continuing and Distance Education).
The " Staatsvertrag über Fernstudien an Fachhochschulen" (State Treaty on Distance Learning at Universities of Applied Sciences) forms the legal basis for the cross-state distance learning cooperation between the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Saarland as well as the framework for the structure and organisation of the zfh. The set-up and organisation of the Centre for Distance Learning in the University Network are based on its core competencies, which focus on the areas of distance learning development, distance learning administration and organisation, marketing, press and public relations work as well as quality management and evaluation.
Management of the zfh
A professor of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, responsible to the competent ministry, represents the state of Rhineland-Palatinate in and out of court in the affairs of the zfh, informs the public about the fulfilment of the tasks and ensures a prosperous cooperation between the organs of the zfh and the participating universities of applied sciences. The head is elected by the central committee for 4 years.
The central committee
In addition to the administrator of zfh, the central committee members include the presidents and principals of the universities of applied sciences that participate in developing or conducting distance learning studies. Students and other employees are also members. This committee is to decide on the setting up, amending and withdrawing distance learning studies in consultation with the supervisory board.
The subject commissions
The subject commissions are responsible for examination and study regulations, concept development for teaching materials, coordination of classroom events, selection of authors and professional support for the creation of study materials.
The supervisory board
The supervisory board represents the involved German states, supports the zfh – Zentrum für Fernstudien im Hochschulverbund in honouring its tasks, decides on the legal regulations to be issued (in particular fees) and the budget proposal, and elects the zfh management. Introducing new study courses and issuing examination and course regulations are subject to consultation with the supervisory board.
The managing director deals with the ongoing legal and administrative matters. He is the authorised representative for the budget in accordance with section 9 of the State Budget Regulation of the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz, and acts as deputy for the director.
Our guiding principle
The zfh - Zentrum für Fernstudien im Hochschulverbund (Centre for Distance Learning in Higher Education) is a central academic institution of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate based at Koblenz University of Applied Sciences. Since its founding in 1995, the zfh has promoted and supported the development and implementation of distance learning at universities of applied sciences on the basis of a state treaty between the states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse and Saarland. Together with the 20 universities of applied sciences in the three participating states, the zfh forms the zfh network and cooperates with other universities in Bavaria, Berlin, Brandenburg and North Rhine-Westphalia. In its function as an administrative office, the zfh is the link in the network.
The zfh contributes its expertise to the conception, implementation and further development of new and existing distance learning courses offered by the universities in the network. The universities draw on the experience of the zfh team and benefit from synergy effects within the network of the zfh association.
The zfh - Zentrum für Fernstudien im Hochschulverbund is a service-oriented, academic institution. It is characterised by its competences in the field of distance learning and by its flexibility and creativity. As a higher state authority, the zfh always adheres to the legal framework of the three federal states and ensures sustainability, reliability and legal conformity. By supporting the distance learning programmes offered by the universities, the zfh makes an important contribution to the compatibility of education, family and work and thus supports lifelong learning. In doing so, the services of the zfh are oriented towards the needs of prospective students and current students as well as the interests of the labour market and partner universities and the federal states in the network.
The zfh aims to further develop the distance learning offer by providing continuous advice and support to the cooperating universities and thus makes an important contribution to greater permeability, openness and better interlinking between the education systems. In this way, it contributes to meeting the growing demand for higher qualification. To this end, the zfh offers a discussion platform that serves as a think tank for good academic teaching in distance learning programmes and thus paves the way for higher education institutions to develop and implement new, innovative study programmes.
In addition to supporting the universities, we at the zfh aim to inform and advise prospective students about the courses offered in the distance learning network in cooperation with the universities and on the basis of the agreements concluded with them. In consultation with the universities, we accompany students on their study and career paths by providing professional and organisational support before and during their studies. A prompt and competent response to enquiries as well as friendliness and appreciation in dealing with our customers and cooperation partners are the goal and expression of our service orientation.
On the one hand, our analysis of the further education needs and qualification requirements of the labour market are an essential basis for advising higher education institutions on the further development of distance learning programmes. On the other hand, employers are potential customers of distance learning courses. In this sense, the zfh sees itself as a mediator of needs and contacts from practitioners to the universities and, in cooperation with the universities, as a mediator of the offers of the zfh network to the labour market.
Quality assurance is carried out in all areas of the zfh, which includes the continuous improvement/adjustment of processes in terms of sustainability and resource-oriented use of funds, and offers support to the universities in ensuring the quality of the distance learning offers.
We are an institution where a positive working atmosphere and respectful cooperation prevail. We promote a working atmosphere characterised by a constructive, solution-oriented approach and team orientation. Responsible, cooperative and networked action on the part of both staff and individual organisational units characterise our working style - trust and mutual appreciation form the central basis for this. Continuous staff development is important to us as a means of promoting the motivation and identification of our staff with the zfh.
We want to contribute to ensuring that the zfh distance learning network continues to offer the largest repertoire of state distance learning courses with academic degrees in Germany. In addition, we see cooperation with the universities in the internationalisation of the courses offered and in networking with universities abroad as an important task for the future.