Enhance IDM!

Enhanced Programme Leadership for Inclusion and Diversity Management in Higher Education.

“Enhance IDM!” will develop tools and trainings for study programme leader’s that will improve their diversity competence and help them to foster diversity awareness of their staff and within their higher education institution.

In line with the Austrian Strategy on the social dimension the project aims to further raise awareness among actors at higher education institutions for the importance of Diversity Management, enhance their corresponding competences and implement means to ensure sustainability of taken measures. Moreover, the project aims to improve study conditions and thus reduce drop out and foster student success.

The project’s target group are those actors who have direct influence on development and adjustment of new study programmes within their higher education institution and dispose of formal as well as informal power to find strong support for the implementation of diversity-sensitive practices on an institutional level. Hence, programme leader’s are the best match to ensure the project’s aims. Programme leader’s are the main decisionmakers in their own programmes and have the capacity to adapt their curricula to contemporary needs. They have influence on their subordinates (teaching staff, administrative support personnel) and can therefore easily communicate the benefits of an inclusive diversity management approach.

The raised diversity awareness of programme leader’s, administrative and academic staff, higher education management and students is subsequently expected

  • to support the vertical and horizontal permeability duo to enhanced awareness and support for student’s needs,
  • to enhance programme leadership,
  • to reduce student drop-out (especially related to non-traditional students) to a customised and diversity-sensitive student support structure and
  • to enhance the social competences of all students and enhance graduate employability (due to a broader understanding and appreciation of diversity in a complex world).

This project draws on a comprehensive governance frame called HEAD Wheel. It integrates the following 5 interconnected diversity segments:


  • DEMOGRAPHIC diversity refers to mostly stable and group-forming categories such as age, gender, sexual orientation, physical and psychological disabilities, ethnicity and race and religion and belief. This segment is increasingly regarded as a normative goal for higher education institutions (HEI) and requires support structures that promote educational equity and accountability. In the spirit of a permeable university policy, one additional aspect, namely social mobility with an eye on a non-traditional student body, was taken into account.


  • COGNITIVE diversity is a diversity lens that looks at differences as a resource upon which to develop a competence-focused mind-set. Differing knowledge and value structures shall be exploited to achieve more creative and innovative solutions. When looking at cognitive diversity from a tertiary level, it is to be enriched by educational and ethical aspects where skills development and competence orientation take centre stage.


  • DISCIPLINARY diversity refers to both targeted cooperation between different professional groups and to transdisciplinary border crossing. The exchange of disciplinary expertise and perspective may result in increased creativity and a higher degree of innovation.


  • FUNCTIONAL diversity places an institutional focus on internal processes of organisational learning, team cohesion and team performance. Working in functional groups may help to detect blind spots that typically impair an agent’s capacity to see beyond one’s department or discipline.


  • INSTITUTIONAL diversity points to the advantage of inter-organisational diversity. It refers to the collaboration with external stakeholders (in our project predominantly with different HEIs). While companies are predominantly driven by an economic strategic approach when interacting with each other, universities also promote mutual exchanges of experience for the sake of a societal contribution.