Dear colleagues and students,
The 2020 summer semester will begin on 1 April, so on Wednesday next week. It will be a semester like none we have experienced before. Face-to-face lectures have been cancelled until 19 April. Digital formats should enable us, however, to still start teaching on 6 April - perhaps in two stages, with preparatory and continuing formats.
Many of you will be asking yourselves how this can work: completely reorganising all our teaching in such a short space of time? No longer being able to use standard formats in which you can directly speak to others, in which you can see the students’ reactions and the lecturers’ movements and gestures, in which you can learn and practice your scientific tools in labs or libraries? What does it mean to have to study alone at home, instead of together with others at the library, in the canteen or in the lecture hall?
It is not just us facing this challenge. Universities of Applied Sciences had exactly one weekend between the decree being issued and the start of the semester to reorganise everything. Schools have been closed for more than a week, pupils have been learning from home - which is a major task for a lot of them - and probably also for many of you, who are now trying to manage family, home schooling and your own jobs all at once.
The CAU is facing particular challenges, with 27,000 students, around 1,800 teachers and approximately 2,000 modules in over 180 degree programmes. But we have the chance to accept and tackle these challenges together. We are receiving quite concerned queries from colleagues who are unfamiliar with the digital formats and who have little opportunity to learn something new at the moment because they are also taking care of their children at the same time, for example. But we are also hearing from several others who are already thinking about how they can use digital teaching formats in their degree programmes. People are sending us suggestions for programmes and learning environments that we can share with you via an OLAT forum. The staff at elK.Medien and PerLe have already compiled a selection of information for you, and will continue to do so. This week, they will start offering their daily training courses and consultation sessions. The University Board has prepared rapid decisions to recognise digital formats and to set up a comprehensive support budget to enable you to continue or digitally reorganise your teaching and learning. If lecturers and students can do this together, then not only will everyone profit from the various digital skills in your modules, but it will probably also help us to overcome other difficulties, such as compensating for a lost student job with an alternative job as a student assistant, or restructuring lost everyday lives and typical student life.
We know that you are all worried about one thing in particular: examinations and qualifications. We are working hard to find solutions for this together with the ministry, which in turn is busy finding regulations across the country with the remaining states. These solutions will include alternative formats and resit regulations which will continue into the next semester. We are especially focussing on solutions for those individuals who are aiming to complete their studies this summer. We will do everything in our power to make this possible for you, and we are also in close contact with the ministry for further questions, such as those related to the transition to teacher training placements for prospective teachers.
We are convinced that we will succeed in organising this extraordinary semester together. Despite all these legitimate concerns, none of our colleagues need to worry about their jobs, and we hope that we can reduce the burden on our students with BAföG regulations, by postponing deadlines, etc.
If we can slow down or curb the spread of the virus by sticking to the precautionary measures, sooner or later we will get back to a different kind of semester. This will most likely contain both digital and attendance formats. And we look forward to seeing everyone in person again!
Thank you very much for your efforts, and we sincerely hope that everyone stays healthy and well!
Your University Board of the CAU and everyone helping to support you with implementing this semester