“We’re doing everything in our power for an on-campus semester”

The summer break at German universities has only just begun and already the KU is looking to the approaching winter semester. “After three semesters ruled by the pandemic, we are doing everything to enable students and faculty to enjoy our usual community life of on-campus studying and teaching, “says Prof. Dr. Klaus Meier, Vice president of studies and teaching at the KU. Especially with the first-semester students in mind, who are just beginning this new journey, the KU wants to make it possible for students to really experience the University, to get to know new people and to acquire life skills.

Even if the KU has had an enormous digital surge due to the pandemic, and has adopted new and innovative concepts, personal encounters on campus are key to the character of a university: “We can impart knowledge digitally, but research-oriented learning, as we’re used to offering to our students, achieves insights through direct discourse.” Hence, according to Meier, the challenge now is to use the campus as the valuable resource it is, all the while fully benefitting from the networking resource of the digital world. "We are looking forward to the social interaction, the exchange on campus and the commitment of our new as well as our experienced students!"

Even though the number of infections and the spread of new virus variants in the fall cannot be predicted at this time, the general conditions show a positive trend: The KU has been able to offer vaccinations to its employees. Students not only keep getting information about the vaccination offers open to everyone, but also have the opportunity - for example, at the Eichstätt Vaccination Center - to get vaccinated without having to make an appointment and regardless of their place of residence. All they need is their confirmation of enrollment. "It is important to us that all students who wish to do so can get this protection as soon as possible. That's why we also support the Bavarian Ministry of Science's vaccination campaign for students," says Vice President Meier. Based on student feedback, he says, it can be assumed that a large proportion of students has already been vaccinated at least once. For those who are not willing or able to get vaccinated, regular testing is to be the basis for participation in classes.

Professor Meier stresses that "When taking the first steps towards relaxing hygiene rules, the safety of KU members has always had top priority in the past and will continue to do so in the future. Vaccination is a cornerstone of prevention, but not the only one. The hygiene measures we have become accustomed to will certainly stay with us well into the future - whether we have been vaccinated, have recovered from COVID-19 or have just been tested". According to Meier, KU members have kept showing a great deal of understanding and support.

However, in planning on-campus courses for the winter semester, the University now also needs government support. Above all, the regulation that is still in place concerning distance and space in classrooms considerably restricts the use of lecture halls and seminar rooms. "For a year and a half, universities and students were all too often overlooked or forgotten. Yet the whole University has proven time and again that we do act responsibly. The rigid state-wide rules must be taken back before the start of the winter semester and be replaced with more flexible in-house rules," demands Vice president Meier, referring to the intensive talks currently underway between the universities and the Bavarian state government. He goes on to say that at the KU, 90 percent of courses take place in small groups anyway. Lecturers are proactively planning large lectures in purely digital format or in hybrid format with on-campus elements anyway.

Update: Abolition of the distance rules
After numerous discussions between the universities and the Ministry of Science, the Bavarian Council of Ministers decided on July 27 that attendance events with a 7-day incidence of no more than 100 are possible even if the minimum distance of 1.5 m cannot be maintained between all students throughout. In all other respects, the existing regulations remain in place, in particular the FFP2 mask requirement. The elimination of the distance regulations is an important prerequisite for KU to be able to plan teaching in presence.

Anyone interested in studying at the KU can find out more about our award-winning degree programs online at https://www.ku.de/en/study-at-the-ku.

For information on the vaccination offers for KU students, please see http://www.ku.de/en/vaccinations