Our Identity and Values
Further education in the sense of lifelong learning is essential today if one is to participate successfully and play a role in shaping technological, economic and social change. Learning has become a way of expressing an approach to life, and has become necessary for the individual’s ability to deal with the future, regardless of age or profession.
Imparting this ability to deal with the future is the VHS’s mission, because publicly-maintained further education is an integral part of the provision of services at local level. The VHS’s view of itself is based on the unity of education principle, which is aimed at the mature individual who acts on his or her own responsibility. It encompasses political, religious and ideological independence as well as mutual tolerance.
Alongside the desire to acquire new knowledge and skills, the starting point for learning processes is often the individual’s experience of an inadequacy. The aim of successful learning is the individual’s personal ability to deal with the future, which is achieved by acquiring additional knowledge or compensating for inadequacies. This process opens up new horizons in life but also involves the experience of limitations. A change and improvement in the individual’s quality of life is the benchmark for successful learning here. Being able to apply what has been learned within his or her own areas of life is experienced by the individual as an increase in potential for accomplishment and as trust in his or her own abilities and skills.
This positive experience generates an appetite for learning and awakens interest in further learning. The result is an increase in independence and a sense of personal responsibility for organising assistance on one’s own initiative. The VHS as an institution contributes decisively to the success of the learning process by providing a perfectly-suited learning environment.
By providing further education with a lifelong, general, politicocultural and professional focus, the VHS constitutes a positive location factor for the town.
- a factor for the future in that it imparts foreign-language, intercultural, technological and media-related skills
- a socio-integrative centre of education where people of differing origins and in various life situations are given support and the opportunity for mutual understanding
- a politicocultural forum in that it encourages participants to play an active role in development and in that controversial subjects are discussed
- a place of individual knowledge and experience which facilitates orientation and the development of the individual’s personality.
The programme on offer at the VHS is dependable and in line with demand. It reacts flexibly to current requirements and furthers new educational needs. The VHS provides both an innovative programme and innovative forms of learning. It is a non-profit establishment whose socially-acceptable price structure and regulations for reductions make it accessible to all interested parties. In this way it guarantees equal opportunities. Beyond this, the VHS carries out contracts on an economic basis insofar as these are in accordance with its view of itself and of its responsibility.
In the future, lifelong learning will take place increasingly in co-operative contexts. The VHS co-operates with a wide variety of partners in order to facilitate the effective planning, organisation and imparting of knowledge, to employ existing resources in the best possible way and to achieve synergies through the exchange of know-how which are advantageous both to those offering education and those accepting this offer. Aachen’s regional location and view of itself as a European city mean that such co-operative measures operate across borders.
Service and Customer Orientation
Interested parties and participants in VHS courses and events are both customers and partners of the service institution which is the VHS.
- informs the public about its programme
- advises interested parties in accordance with their educational needs
- offers clear and customer-friendly terms of contract
- creates a pleasant learning atmosphere by providing appropriately-equipped rooms
- welcomes critical feedback
- involves participants and teaching personnel in the planning and running of courses so that these are in line with their needs
- differentiates in its evaluation of the successful learning process depending on the areas of the programme involved.
Men and women have equal rights as participants and personnel. The integral approach to education includes the aspect of gender as a matter of course. Gender is logically a cross-sectional task and this is realised by:
- the awakening of interest in educational content which is suitable for questioning the classic attribution of gender roles
- specific offers on the subject of gender
- gender-specific offers for men and women with regard to methods and/or content.
Consideration of the subject of gender constitutes a clear aspect of quality assurance.
Fundamentals of Quality
The quality of courses and events at the VHS is primarily guaranteed by the course instructors and speakers. The personnel at the VHS are professionally-qualified and receive clear direction and further training. The use of modern teaching methods and media as well as forms of learning organisation which take into account the learning interests and individual circumstances of the participants form the basis of instruction tailored to adult needs.
As a modern service institution, the VHS is itself a learning organisation which is concerned with quality assurance and which openly addresses the diversity of new demands in the areas of service, advisory support, programme planning and development.
Responsibility for its own budget, greater flexibility and new scope for acting on its own responsibility are the result of a far-reaching and self-critical restructuring process.
As specialists, experts and qualified personnel, those working at the VHS have both the freedom and duty to take appropriate decisions within their fields of responsibility and to account for these. Decisions which go beyond their immediate fields of responsibility are taken transparently and with due regard to time, those being affected also participating in the decision-making process or contributing their views. Internal co-operation or the creation of teams ensures that the specialist and personal abilities of personnel are used beyond their immediate fields of responsibility.
Personnel are chosen, deployed and given support in ac cordance with their abilities and aptitudes. Senior staff members view themselves as service providers for their staff.