„Corona-Declaration“ of the Universities of Applied Sciences in Baden-Württemberg

Experiences and conclusions of an exceptional summer term 2020

Press release of the 27th of July. Universities of Applied Sciences are important places of education and research, of knowledge transfer and knowledge production as well as the future organisation. All of that is of extraordinary significance for the industrial state of Baden-Württemberg. About 50 % of an age group decides to study nowadays.

But universities are much more than that: they are places of encounter, of exchange, of debate about the best solutions, of developing and strengthening professional, social and intercultural skills of predominantly young people, and they are also sources of inspiration for society and the region. This applies in particular to the Universities of Applied Sciences (HAW).

The universities have adapted remarkably quickly and well to the challenges posed by Corona. They have benefited from their preparatory work in digitisation and have been able to rely on the commitment of the teaching staff as well as on the participation and willingness to learn of their students. Thus, with extraordinary effort and joint action, it was possible to offer a quite different, but still fully-fledged summer semester and to complete it successfully in these days.

And yet this "online semester" showed in a special way that there is much more to a complete course of study than just teaching and learning: the challenge of self-organisation, working in groups, the (often first) own household, independent research, experience, comprehension in the literal and figurative sense, encounters and discourses with people who think differently, with people from other cultures and social backgrounds, contacts with practice, insights into research and the ability to form an argumentative opinion - and not to forget the building of friendships, which often last a lifetime.

Some of these aspects could also be taught well in digital teaching formats. Others necessarily require the simultaneous presence of teachers and students, working together on the object and in the universities.

 

For this reason, the rectors and presidents of HAW in Baden-Württemberg emphasize with regard to the upcoming winter semester 2020 / 2021

1 The universities are and will remain presence institutions.

They have neither the goal nor the ambition to become digital learning places. Presence, exchange, meeting, experiencing, experiencing and understanding are important elements of learning and studying at a HAW. This should and will remain so.

2. ensure good experiences.

Nevertheless, the experience gained in the digital phase of this summer semester is of great value for future teaching at HAW. Following a thorough analysis, they are intended to flank, support and supplement the proven teaching formats. They will increase the flexibility of the teaching at HAW and can make teaching more individual and target group specific. Digital formats are to be maintained and further developed especially where they lead to didactic improvements and represent important additions.

3. create planning security. Maintain flexibility.

However, planning security is also very important for professors, lecturers, university management, administrators and, above all, students. In contrast to the exceptional situation at the end of the summer semester, which placed high demands on the flexibility and mobility of all those involved, the universities are therefore striving to create a reliable perspective for the winter semester, which provides for as many binding attendance phases as possible for all students, while at the same time relying once again on digital courses: as much attendance as possible, sensibly paired with online offerings. This would also allow the universities to react at short notice to increased infection levels on site and still continue teaching in high quality and without interruption.

4. experience university life. Getting to know university locations.

When determining the attendance phases, special attention is paid to students who began their studies in March - for the "Corona Semester" - and to first-year students* in the coming winter semester.

These beginners should be given early and sufficient opportunity to get to know their universities, their offers, the lecturers, the study locations and each other, to organize themselves and to meet in learning groups. In this way, it can be avoided that an entire generation of students is insufficiently introduced to their studies and, above all, that technically and financially disadvantaged and less independent students are lost on their way into and through their studies.

5. enable encounters and exchanges.

Students from other countries should also come to the universities and be supervised as often as possible. For them, it is also a matter of gaining an insight into the university and scientific culture as well as social coexistence in our country. We will make this possible.

6. out of responsibility for health.

In addition to a wise balance between attendance offerings and digital studies, this provision also takes into account the fact that students, unlike pupils* or children in day care, for example, do not study in fixed groups, but often commute between home and place of study, so that they are exposed to particular infection risks and could at the same time cause them themselves.

7. make internships and practical semesters possible.

For HAW students, insights and experiences in and from the practice and application of their scientific discipline are of particular importance. Contacts with representatives from professional practice, visits to companies and other application facilities are therefore important didactic elements of teaching at HAW. This also and in particular applies to internships and practical semesters. The aim is to provide excellent training for young people in order to effectively counter the shortage of skilled workers in many areas of employment in our society. It is about the employees* of tomorrow! We appeal to our companies, authorities, associations and institutions to offer internships and places for practical semesters even in these difficult and uncertain times. You are not doing it primarily for the universities and students, but also for your own future!

 

HAW has come through the first phase of the pandemic well and, thanks to their planning and arrangements, they are well prepared for the coming semester - under all circumstances.

They guarantee their students, the society and economy of their graduates*, their partners and thus the state of Baden-Württemberg an undiminished high quality of education with a high degree of planning security.

To this end, the 24 member universities work closely and well together, coordinate their activities and support each other. That is what distinguishes us.

 

Now more than ever.

Press contact HAW BW e.V.: Benjamin Peschke Managing Director Universities of Applied Sciences Baden-Württemberg e. V. + (49) 711 995 281-60 peschke@haw-bw.de

Publish date: 28. July 2020