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Concept

The idea for the program was born during a conversation of Bernd Heesen (at that time University of Applied Sciences Furtwangen) and Gustav Schlecht (City of Spaichingen) at a trade show in 2003 where Bernd Heesen presented a part-time “Executive MBA” program.  In the following conversation the idea was discussed to open up part-time programs for other target groups as well, e.g. top athletes. In the age when other young adults invest their time in academic or professional education, top athletes spend their time to advance their sports career. Some athletes with great potential conclude their sports career in order to advance their education. Some of these athletes could still pursue their sports career if they had the possibility to participate in a suitable part-time education program. In 2003 first meetings were held with career consultants of the Olympic centers in Tauberbischofsheim (Sven Ressel), Freiburg  (Jürgen Willrett), and Stuttgart (Herbert Wursthorn). These meetings confirmed the demand for a part-time program specifically designed to meet the needs of top athletes even though it remained unclear if enough students would enroll. In 2004 meetings with Axel Kuhlen (Olympic Center Bavaria) were held.

The conception of the program was developed together with the Olympic Centers to allow top athletes representing Germany in international competitions, to gain a professional perspective by participating in this part-time program.

Previous efforts by universities and Olympic Centers to improve conditions for top athletes had partially failed, because of a lack of flexibility in existing academic programs. A solution was to create a program specifically designed for the top athletes. Individual coaching, short-term enrollment in block courses, flexible examination dates, and on-going support during the phases of independent study via an E-Learning platform were considered as essential elements.

In our opinion, top athletes have the perseverance to accept the challenge of a part-time study program as long as it doesn’t hinder their sports career. The situation prior to the establishment of this program presented itself as follows:

  • Top athletes couldn’t easily participate in a conventional study program without risking negative consequences for their sports career.
  • Top athletes were often ill prepared for their professional career after finishing their sports career.
  • A part-time program specifically designed for top athletes didn’t exist in 2005.

For these reasons The University of Applied Sciences in Ansbach established the part-time program “Bachelor of Arts in International Management”  for top athletes who are member of the German national team. Some of the advantages of this program for the athletes and their supporting organizations, like the Olympic Centers, are:

  • Top athletes can stay focused on their sports carreer while still gaining a solid academic education.
  • Athletes who tried to combine a conventional study program with their sports career and had to make compromises (e.g. fixed exam schedules conflicting with competition or training schedules) benefit from an increased flexibility.
  • The fact that enrollment in the program is exclusively offered to athletes of the national team provides an environment where the students feel comfortable. They all face similar challenges.

Advisory Board

The responsibility of the advisory board is to contribute to the development of the academic program. The members of the advisory board hold annual meetings to exchange their recommendations with the program management at the University of Applied Sciences.

Its members comprise one representative each from of the 19 olympic centers in Germany, both student representatives and one representative of each sponsor.

Students council

Apart from the advisory board the interests of the athlete students are also represented by the students´ representatives at the University of Applied Sciences in Ansbach. Details can be found on the website of the students council.