NORDAKADEMIE Non-profit Corporation University of Economics: Leveraging Business Study and Economics for Development

Life is nothing but the art of balancing important things on a multi-edged sword. As then popular quote goes, ‘Reality is different than fiction,’ it is certainly true in this case. The tilting balance of important things resides the genesis of the business, on which the entire world around systematically revolves.

With the genesis of the business decades past, the idea of the economy was brought into the world by the forerunners of thought leadership. Today, economics and businesses run the world, but economics and businesses are much more than that.

“Economics is too important to leave it to the economists.”

Quoting Steve Keen and his strong foreshadowing perception of economics, it was found necessary for the change drivers to introduce multiple collaborations with business, economics, humanity, and learning.

Many proficient thinkers realised the need for a unique collaborative structure when the world was on the verge of entering an era of significant changes in 1981. In his venture to set up a dual course study in ‘Industrial Engineering and Management’ at the Schleswig-Holstein University of Cooperative Education, Dr. Georg Plate deliberately laid the foundation of NORDAKADEMIE Gemeinnützige Aktiengesellschaft Hochschule der Wirtschaft (NORDAKADEMIE Non-profit Corporation University of Economics).

In its quest to find ‘The Most Prominent Business School in Germany, 2022′, The Knowledge Review magazine, came across NORDAKADEMIE, a prominent business school that is making economics and business studies future ready for the world.

Being a business school, which has always been a step ahead of its current age since its inception, there is always an imitative outlook on the future on how the world will look from behind the stage.

While talking about the school’s uniqueness and its educational pedagogies for instilling the art of balancing the ideologies, ethics and rules of economics and business in the students, Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiedmann, President and Diploma Industrial Engineer, Christoph Fülscher, Chancellor of the university, shares the story of underpinned success of one of the most prominent business schools of 21st century.

Laying the Foundation Stone of NORDAKADEMIE

The inception story of NORDAKADEMIE can date back to May 1981, when Dr. Georg Plate initiated a project manager at the Schleswig-Holstewig University of Cooperative Education on 1 April 1981. In his practical attempt to set a dual course study program in ‘Industrial Engineering and Management’, he started with a simple mailing campaign.

Amongst the 500 mails sent, it resulted in one positive response from Drägerwerk AG, which agreed to provide two study places for a completely new- yet visionary, training model. In the attempt to keep the project alive, Dr. Georg Plate also found the need to bring more investment from major industry players.

Showcasing the importance of Dr Georg Plate in the inception of the university and in setting up the university into what it is today, the current president of the university, Dr Stefan Wiedmann, says, “In addition to Dräger, companies such as Airbus, Fette, Hatlapa, Körber, Mobil Oil, Philips, Rotring and Telefunken were involved from the beginning and played a decisive role in the founding of the later NORDAKADEMIE.”

“It was probably, in particular, the success of the dual study programme which tipped the scales in favour of founding a university supported by business and industry: all those involved – employers and graduates alike – were satisfied with the quality of the three-and-a-half-year course at the vocational academy. The only criticism was the lack of a formal, internationally recognised university degree,” the Chancellor of the university, Christoph Fülscher, added.

Journey from Academy to University of Applied Sciences

Moving swiftly in the field of education, all founding members of NORDAKADEMIE felt the need to establish the Academy as a private University of Applied Sciences. They were being supported by NORDMETALL, an employers association of the metal and electrical industry, by promoting this idea to their member companies. Thereby more businesses joined, and a unique business model was created: a University of Applied Sciences 100% owned by private companies in Germany.

On 25th February 1992, 20 companies showed enthusiasm and agreed to the setup of a non-profit limited company, which was to be the sponsor of the future university.

With the support of member companies and a promising future for business academics, the state recognition of NORDAKADEMIE came on 22 October 1992 as a university of applied sciences with dual courses of study.

Dr. Stefan Wiedmann highlighted when the lectures began and how they have shaped themselves today: “Lectures began at the beginning of January 1993, and the university was officially opened on 19 February 1993. Today, around 1,500 Bachelor students live and learn on the NORDAKADEMIE Campus in Elmshon.

In 2013 NORDAKADEMIE opened the Graduate School in Hamburg, where part-time Master’s degrees can be obtained. Today, around 1,000 young professionals are studying for their Master’s degree there.” 

A University for Business and Industry

NORDAKADEMIE, as a university, was born from business and industry. While most universities focus on grooming economists in a business environment, NORDAKADEMIE always keeps an eye on the occupational profiles that are relevant to the current business world.

The mission—100% YOUR FUTURE. Bachelor. Master. Career—of the university is developed on that ideation to train young, ambitious people in the business, technical and software development qualifications and understanding their needs, whether that be the dual Bachelor’s course or the part-time Masters’ Program.

“We see ourselves as an innovative, alert, creative, education-centred and entrepreneurial university. We fill this self-image with life every day – for the benefit of our students!” emphasises Prof. Dr. Stefan Wiedmann, President of NORDAKADEMIE.

Passing on the Torch

After 25 years the founding team passed on the torch to a tandem that now leads the University: Prof. Dr Stefan Wiedmann as president and Diploma Industrial Engineer Christoph Fülscher as Chancellor. Both are also the Managing Directors of the charitable public company. With new work processes and fresh study programmes, they are setting the course for the next successful 30 years. 

The Dual Study Program for High Career Opportunities

The inception of NORDAKADEMIE was based on the ideation of studying two integral programs, such as business and technology at the same time, becoming the industrial engineering degree. The particular high career opportunities relevant in this current world is based on the special business models that many industries have developed.

Talking about the intuitive academic programs started by the university, the university management says, “The particularly high career opportunities for NORDAKADEMIE students are based on the special business model: the dual study programme in the Bachelor’s degree and the part-time study programme in the Master’s degree. The students are thus connected to practice, to the companies, from the very beginning. In addition, it is a hiring requirement for every professor at NORDAKADEMIE that they come from practice, from industry, and therefore know what the young professionals need to become successful in professional practice.”

Futuristic Global Exposure

Being a university that has always been a step ahead of the current trends in the industry and business world, NORDAKADEMIE finds it necessary to provide its students with a holistic global exposure.

Emphasising on how the university achieves that, Christoph Fülscher, Chancellor of the university, says, “Our young Bachelor students can all spend a (voluntary) semester abroad in the 5th semester at one of our more than 40 partner universities around the world. In Europe, participation in the ERASMUS+ funding programme is also, possible.

A component of the Master’s programme is a so-called “Master’s Project” in which internationally positioned companies to give our students a concrete question as a 3-month project.”

Through this unique master’s program for students studying for MBA, international lectures in necessary languages such as English, Spanish, and French are introduced at the university.

Delivering Complete Learning Experience

The uniqueness of NORDAKADEMIE is in the courses that it offers. While most universities focus is one trait of business, the academic curriculum of both the 5 Bachelor’s and 6 Master’s Degree is based curated for attaining maximum engagement of students with learning.

“Bachelor’s students also have the opportunity to choose a specialisation from the 5th of 7 semesters. In addition, we offer an extensive Stadium Generale, i.e., a large selection of seminars with which students can educate themselves beyond their own horizons. Here are a few examples: Leadership Training, Conflict Management, Public Relations, Politics & Economics, Online Marketing, and many more. Analogously, Master’s students can take various certificate courses, for example, Business Analytics or Software Development,” Chancellor Christoph Fülscher added.

Adapting to the Means of Modern Education

Modern education has been spreading its wings in multiple ever since the introduction of technology in education. Explaining how the university is benefitting from it, Prof. Dr Stefan Wiedmann says, “Basically, we are a university that believes in the benefits of face-to-face teaching.

Nevertheless, we have naturally opened up to modern teaching methods: Online, hybrid, and similar. In addition, more and more edutainment modules are being incorporated into teaching.”

Envisioning the Future of NORDAKADEMIE 

“A university is a place of encounter where lifelong “nodes” are tied for the personal network. This strong network is just as important for the students as the academic degree: this is much easier to realise in presence. In addition, I am looking forward to the anniversary events for the 30th anniversary of the Nordakademie, and I am especially happy when we achieve our goals together.

In 10 years’, time, the NORDAKADEMIE will be playing to its strengths on the education market, which will have become much more professional by then. For example, the combination of the main content areas of business informatics, industrial engineering, business administration and psychology will be more in demand than ever. The dovetailing of these fields is the topic of digital transformation, i.e., what is currently driving all companies in their change processes. Becoming a strategic partner for people and companies here is a great opportunity. The strong partner network already offers an excellent basis for this. In addition, I envisage great flexibility on the part of the university in order to adapt to the time and space constraints of the (international) students. At the same time, events will also be didactically developed to meet the changing requirements.

But all this can be copied by competitors. What cannot be copied, however, will be the innovative, alert, creative, educational culture of an entrepreneurial university.”

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