The HfH is a university of teacher education focusing on special needs education, with the goal of ‘Education for All’. It is science based, practice oriented, and broad based. The mandate and mission of the university is education, continuing education, research and development, and services. The University of Teacher Education in Special Needs is based in Zurich, Switzerland, and employs approximately 170 staff.
The HfH is a university of teacher education under the Federal Act on the Funding and Coordination of the Higher Education Sector (HEdA/HFKG). It has been federally accredited since 2017. With its unique knowledge on the education, development, and inclusion of people with special educational needs, it is a national reference. The university’s offerings aim for ‘Education for All’ and thus contribute towards an inclusive society.
Prof. Dr Barbara Fäh has headed the university as president since 2016; vice-president is Prof. Claudia Ziehbrunner. The president of the University Council since mid-2020 is Prof. Dr Dorothea Christ, who is also the director of the Office of Universities of the Canton of Zurich.
The Zurich Training College for Teachers in Special Needs (HPS), founded in 1924, became the Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik (HfH) in 2001 in the wake of the Bologna process. Today’s University of Teacher Education in Special Needs is sponsored by 13 Swiss cantons and the Principality of Liechtenstein. The basis is an intercantonal agreement. The university celebrates its 20th Anniversary in 2021. The mandate and mission of the HfH is education, continuing education, research and development, and services in the field of special needs education. The university employs approximately 170 staff.
Bachelor's and Master's programmes. The university offers unique science-based and practice-oriented degree programmes at the Bachelor’s and Master’s levels. Approximately 1200 persons are enrolled in the Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes, studying for various tasks and careers in special needs education. All degrees and certificates are recognized in Switzerland and thus nationally and internationally.
Continuing education. The continuing education programmes at the university are up-to-date, attractive, highly practice oriented, and known for scientific excellence. Building on the participants’ knowledge and experience, they contribute towards further professionalization of special needs education practice.
Research and development. Research and development at the university is application oriented and analyses current and future issues in special needs education practice, the profession, and policy. Research studies analyse, initiate, and support innovation processes, in cooperation and exchange with the people concerned and with partners in the world of practice.
Services. Customized service offerings support the professional field of special needs education as well as the responsible educators in developing sustainable solutions for today’s challenges.
Staff. The university staff are experts on all aspects of disability and impairment and framework conditions as well as on generating, evaluating, and communicating knowledge on the education, development, and inclusion of people with special educational needs. Professors head and supervise the work in specific fields in the university’s strategic areas of teaching, research, or development. (Link zu Personenverzeichis, Filter Professor*innen). The staff are the university’s most important resource.
Institutes. The five thematic institutes of the University of Teacher Education in Special Needs give concrete form to the university profile. They focus on education and continuing education, research and development, and services in their designated teaching and development areas.
- Institute for Special Learning Needs
- Institute for Educational Support for Behaviour, Social-Emotional, and Psychomotor Development
- Institute for Disabilities and Participation
- Institute for Professionalization and System Development
- Institute for Language and Communication Special Needs
Scientific centres. The institutes provide education and continuing education, research and development, and services; this ensures that teaching and research are systematically linked. The institutes are supported by the scientific centres: Centre for Education, Centre for Continuing Education and Services, and Centre for Research and Development.
Administrative and technical support. Providing high-level support to the university are the support units Administration, Digital Learning Centre, and Library.
Film portrait of the university: Education for All – Lifelong. As this film in German shows clearly, the HfH contributes towards an inclusive society, driven by the needs of countless people who still today experience disadvantages in everyday life, and supported by international and national conventions that seek to compensate for these disadvantages.