Research project


Universities of applied sciences in Switzerland have been facing a far-reaching process of internationalisation since their establishment. In teaching and research, they are increasingly creating space for international academic staff, and for students with different backgrounds and/or educational backgrounds. The increasing internationality of the universities of applied sciences is embedded in internationalization strategies, which, in addition to cooperation in the field of scientific research, also facilitate participation in international education and exchange programs in research and teaching or the counselling and support of foreign students.

The internationalisation of higher education institutions is not only accompanied by new forms of control and benchmarks for success, but also by discourses on justice and gender equality policy measures, which include other dimensions of social inequality in addition to gender. In recent years, the existing action plans for gender equality at Swiss universities of applied sciences have been supplemented by ' diversity policies', which are designed to take into account the increasing socio-cultural diversity at universities.

However, the dynamics of internationalisation at universities is still barely explored in terms of its significance for gender relations. To date, there is little evidence of the impact of the internationalisation of academic careers and workforces on gender relations and gender segregation at universities. Also largely unknown are the effects of internationalisation at the student level. Moreover, the significance of the interweaving of the gender category with other difference categories in the context of the changed organizational forms, rationalities and social practices of internationalised training pathways, programs and contexts, is unclear.


The aim of the study is to put the study orientations and practices of students with different social and educational backgrounds into the context of current internationalisation strategies of Swiss universities of applied sciences. With a focus on the field of higher education, the question of how far universities of applied sciences can offer equal study opportunities to women and men with different backgrounds of origin/migration, as a result of the dynamics of internationalisation, is of interest. What institutional and organizational requirements can this entail for the university? To what extent does the internationalisation of universities of applied sciences create new equality potentials or new inequality conditions? Which institutional hurdles or options can be observed in the context of different training courses for students with a migration background? What strategies  do students develop in dealing with institutional requirements? And in what contexts can migration experience and gender possibly become cultural or social capital?

These questions will be investigated in the context of the study using the example of bachelor students in the fields of technology and IT, social work and education, as well as economics and services at universities of applied sciences in German-speaking and French-speaking Switzerland. The study is based on a' mixed-method-design', in which qualitative and quantitative methods are applied and the participating universities of applied sciences in German- and French-speaking Switzerland are included in a comparative perspective.

The results - and the recommendations derived from them - should provide a basis for universities of applied sciences to adequately design gender- and migration-friendly study conditions in the various training courses. The project is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and runs from 2016 to 2019