In a real sense the establishment of Aalborg University in 1974 was an exiting experiment in higher education as important as for instance, the Open University concept in the United Kingdom. Real innovations in education of this importance are rare and Denmark can be justly proud to have taken a leadership role in formulating a novel project-centered higher education method.

International Evaluation Panel.

Twenty years ago Aalborg University's project-organized studies were introduced. The experience since then has proved this to be an important innovation in higher education.

The curriculum in engineering as well as in the natural science is project-organized from the day the freshmen arrive until their graduation.

The first year the freshmen learn to work in project-groups. The next two years in the undergraduate programmes the project work is mainly design-oriented. The last two years in the graduate programmes the project work is mainly problem-oriented.

In the design-oriented project work the students deal with know-how problems which can be solved by theories and knowledge they have acquired in their lectures. In the problem-oriented project work the students deal with unsolved problems within science and profession. The project-work has a know-why approach and is supported by relevant lectures.

The duration of each project is one semester. In the programme half of the time is distributed to project work, 25% to courses related to the project and 25% to courses related to the curriculum.

This educational system has proved to have great internal adaptability. It has not been difficult to adjust and change the educational programmes in accordance with developments in technology, society and economy. The system is innovative and has been able to cope with current problems in the professions and in society.

The system has also shown great external adaptability. The graduates are well prepared to solve the unknown problems of the future and to extend their professional work outside their major.

The project-organized education demands a high degree of supervision and office-space for the students. Each project-group requires the use of an office at the university and continual supervision by a member of the faculty. The ever changing perspective, initiated by the internal adaptability, demands lectures to be constantly changing, or renewed. This demands much preparation and affects the resource economy adversely. The internal adaptability and the free choice of the students create a demand for flexibility in the distribution of resources at the University.

But it is also an effective educational system. 80% of the students pass their examination at the prescribed time and the Danish Parliament's state audits assessed Aalborg University to have the most effective of the nine Danish engineering educational institutions.

The results and experience of the research which is carried out at the university is easily incorporated in the teaching programmes because of their close relationship to problem-solving, and because of their direct integration with the educational system and its programmes.

The graduates achieve great experience in interdisciplinary team work and they will normally possess the latest scientific and methodological knowledge, which is thus spread quickly and free of charge to both public bodies and industry, due to the employment of new graduates.

The engineering education in Aalborg has been evaluated and compared with traditional engineering education. This was done by two international panels, as well as by external examinators, graduate engineers and their employers and undergraduate and graduate students. Evaluation assessed that there were no differences in quality or level between engineers graduated from Aalborg University and the other Danish university engineering education in Copenhagen.

But the evaluation also assessed significant differences between the profiles of the graduates from the two Danish engineering universities.

The engineers from Aalborg were assessed to be stronger in problem-solving, communication, co-operation and general technical knowledge, while the traditional engineers were assessed to be stronger in specific technical knowledge and methodology.

The Aalborg engineering programme was assessed to be complementary to the traditional engineering programmes, serving slightly different needs for students and industry.

Most of the graduate engineers from Aalborg had no difficulties in their first job and felt confident after three months. A small number of the civil engineers had felt difficulties with practical experience in their first job, while a small number of the other engineers had felt some difficulties in the field of organization and industrial culture in their first job. There was convincing agreement between the composition of the knowledge and experience used in the project-oriented education and in the professional engineering practice. The only difference was slightly more emphasis on theoretical engineering and science at the university and on economics in industry. Surprisingly, computing and foreign languages were more important than theoretical science for the graduate engineers in their jobs.

After three years of employment, the main source of the applied professional knowledge still derived from their project work at the university, while only a minor part of the applied knowledge derived from taught courses, colleagues or postgraduate courses.

The students felt enthusiastic about the group work. They preferred the later problem-oriented semesters with their better possibilities to decide the content and organization of the project work and their better scientific and technological tools to solve the problems. But the formation of groups was found to be a difficult and sometimes painful process.

The balance with 50% project work, 25% project-oriented courses and 25% general courses was assessed as perfect.

Also the demands of the curriculum were assessed to be sufficient, but it was judged too diffuse by a minor part of the students. The students assessed the technical coherence in the programme as average.

There was a good overlap between the supervisors' qualifications and the qualifications the students wished them to possess, such as willingness to advise, engagement in and mastery of the subject, and the ability to provide precise and clear explanations. Only at the last point many of the supervisors failed the students grading.

Finally, the examination system with a written project report to be presented and defended by the project group, was judged good by the students as well as our graduate engineers, external examinators and the international panels.

To conclude, the combination of problem-oriented and project-organized education in Aalborg has proved to be an effective educational system, which produces readily adaptable graduates with strong qualities in problem-solving, communication and general technical knowledge. The weakness of the problem-based education is the students' lower load of textbook knowledge and methodology.