Technical universities: A historical perspective

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This chapter provides an overview of the historical development of technical institutes and universities from their foundation in the late eighteenth century to the present time. Our account, which is focused on European experiences, shows that technical universities are characterized by their historical relations to the industrial revolution, and since that time their strong linkages to industry (from initially local to increasingly global). The chapter also highlights some persistent tensions and dilemmas related in part to this historical legacy, including the introduction of and relation to research, the balance between theory and application, and the ‘congestion’ in engineering programmes. Development over the last decades revolves around the profiles and scientific scope of technical universities. Over time, new areas have been introduced, mirroring their technical development and in some countries—as a consequence of external drivers and strategic agendas—eye-catching reorganisations and new initiatives have increased the portfolio way beyond the classical engineering subjects.




Geschwind, L., & Broström, A. (2020). Technical universities: A historical perspective. In Higher Education Dynamics (Vol. 56, pp. 15–26). Springer Science and Business Media B.V.

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