Lots of excited faces, laughing students crowded together, the first friendships being made – that what starting studies is usually like for all freshers at Landshut University of Applied Sciences. The corona pandemic makes this impossible this year.
Landshut University of Applied Sciences has accepted this challenge and taken the extraordinary situation as an opportunity to implement innovative concepts.
The ZBK (Zentrale Studienberatung und Karriereservice) organisation team, in cooperation with the six faculties, put together an exciting programme for the new students: online and, in some cases, on campus. Freshers for courses of study with open admission were therefore given the opportunity to exchange information in online meetings and to ask their questions digitally at the start of the course on 1 October.
Students get to know the key facilities online
In addition to numerous key contacts from the faculties, the first semester students got to know important service points such as the library, the Service Department for Students (SSZ), the ZBK, the International Office (IO) and the Studentenwerk Niederbayern/Oberpfalz (STWNO). They also found out how the mandatory general studies works and which language courses they can choose.
The separate "WS 20/21 Studienstart" course room on the Moodle learning platform also provided numerous Zoom links, information, videos and presentations that are also available for download. Questions could be answered all day at the "Virtual Infopoint". The digital event concept met with great approval. Nearly 100 percent of first semester students took part in the online events.
Study under exceptional conditions
Online services and digital learning platforms are particularly important in times of corona, which includes Moodle as well as the Landshut University of Applied Sciences SB portal. The first semester students learned how to use them securely right at the beginning of their studies. Even at the height of the pandemic, Moodle in particular was one of the most important communication channels, which is why the university invested a lot of time and resources in expanding the platform. The first semester students will also benefit from this in the future. "It's a great pity that we cannot arrange the start to studying as usual," emphasised University President Prof. Dr. Fritz Pörnbacher. "In the meantime though we have become very corona efficient and offer the best conditions for an online semester."
But the new students did not have to totally stay away from campus. By adhering to the distancing rules and on the basis of an intensively developed hygiene and safety concept, the first semester courses in some faculties could partly be held on campus on the second day, separated according to courses of study. The students were divided between several lecture halls and seminar rooms as well as the district gymnasium opposite the Schönbrunn vocational college to avoid large accumulations. The programme, which each faculty designed individually, included panel discussions, open Q&A sessions, introductions to basic subjects and campus tours.
Start to studying divided over several days
For first semester students, starting their studies was a totally exceptional situation. "Personal contacts and talking directly to lecturers and fellow students are the most important factors at the start of a university career," says Pörnbacher. "We will continue to try to hold as many face-to-face events on campus as possible, where the situation allows. This does of course also depends on how the infection rates develop." The University President assured that no risks will be taken, as the health of the entire university family and the population is the top priority.
The introductory events were divided over several days in order to not bring too many students to the campus at the same time during the corona pandemic. The Faculty of Business Administration's attendance dates and the Faculty of Interdisciplinary Studies' Sign Language Interpreting course of study with restricted admission have been set for Tuesday, 13 October. Social work studies will also not start until 12 October and then only online and without any attendance lectures.