• Student carrying books, Brian City Berlin

    Good Prerequisites: Semester Start 2021/22

The winter semester has started. For three semesters, teaching and studying in the Brain City Berlin took place predominantly online. The lecture halls, seminar rooms, laboratories and libraries of the Berlin universities are now open again for attendance-based events. The “VRT” rule applies here: Only those who have been Vaccinated, who have Recovered and who have Tested negative may take part in courses or examinations on site. According to a recent survey, however, the vast majority of Berlin students are vaccinated. 

83.2 percent of Berlin students are already fully vaccinated against the corona virus. This is the result of a non-representative survey which was carried out by the State Conference of Rectors and Presidents of Berlin Universities (LKRP) from mid-August to early September. A total of 42,015 students from ten Berlin universities took part. At the time of the survey, 972 (2.3 percent) of the respondents had been vaccinated with only one dose, and 5,696 (13.6 percent) of the participants were still unvaccinated. 393 students (0.9 percent) belonged to the group of those who had recovered. When asked whether they would take advantage of a vaccination offer from their university, 58.2 percent of those who had been vaccinated once answered yes. Around 16 percent of the students who had not yet been vaccinated stated that they would like to consider such an offer. The ten universities participating in the survey:  Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin, Berlin University of the Arts, Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin, The Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin, Katholische Hochschule für Sozialwesen Berlin, Evangelische Hochschule Berlin, Berliner Hochschule für Technik.

Even if the number of respondents is only about a fifth of the roughly 200,000 Berlin students, the result bodes well for the winter semester 2021/22. According to a key points paper adopted by the Berlin Senate Chancellery – Science and Research and the Berlin universities at the end of July, on-site events such as lectures or seminars should be possible again. The main requirement is that students and teachers adhere to the “VRT” rule. In addition, wearing a mask in university buildings is mandatory.

Mobile vaccination teams at Berlin universities

To ensure that as many students as possible can take part in attendance-based events safely in the winter semester, the Berlin universities have also started a joint vaccination campaign under the motto “Ideas are the only things that should be contagious”. Employees and students at Berlin universities and research institutes have been able to get vaccinated since June. Mobile vaccination teams are currently offering  students the opportunity to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the university before the official start of lectures (Universities of applied sciences: 1 October; Universities and art schools: 18 October 2021). First-semester students are particularly addressed. However, the offer is also open to students in higher semesters, university employees and interested citizens. 

Vaccination dates and the stops for the vaccination buses and mobile teams are listed on the websites of the Berlin universities. Core vaccination phase: 4 to 15 October 2021, weekdays between 10:00 and 16:00.

Combination of attendance-based and online offers

The LKRP survey also confirms that the exchange in seminars and lecture halls is very important, especially at the beginning of a degree. Also for students who have to look after children or elderly and sick relatives, the past three semesters, which were almost exclusively digital, were a heavy burden. Loneliness and isolation in the course of the lockdown also burdened other respondents. In comments made by students at the Freie Universität Berlin (FU Berlin) as part of the survey, many wished that they will soon be able to study in an attendance-based way again. However, digital offers have become established during the pandemic. Online teaching as a supplement to attendance-based studies will therefore certainly continue to be part of the curriculum at all Berlin universities – not just in the transition semester 2021/22.

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