University of Bayreuth starts its 2020/21 winter semester successfully despite pandemic
Despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the University of Bayreuth (UBT) is starting its 2020/21 winter semester with a slight increase in student numbers. Overall, the University Governing Board sees the future in extremely positive terms: “Especially High-Tech Agenda Bavaria is giving the University a boost. We will already be able to welcome several new professors on board at the end of the semester. In this way, we will further raise our profile in the fields that are important to us”, University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible predicted at the annual press conference.
“The pandemic measures in spring 2020 certainly changed research activities on campus, but have not slowed them down in the long term”, reported Prof. Dr. Christian Laforsch, Vice President for Research and Junior Scholars at the University of Bayreuth. For example, four large research alliances were added to the existing 27 coordinated by University of Bayreuth scientists, and a Gateway Office linking Bayreuth to three university and research institutions was recently opened in Bordeaux. Further study programmes such as the bachelor’s degree in “Computational Mathematics” and the master’s degree in “Food Quality and Safety” were set up, while some major projects – the start of studies in Kulmbach and construction plans there – were also pushed ahead despite coronavirus.
Above all, however, teaching has been put on a completely new footing: “At times, as many as 33,000 registrations per day for the online formats, up to 4,400 Zoom meetings per week, around 12,300 uploaded Panopto presentations – all this shows that the University of Bayreuth can do online”, summarised Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann, Vice President Digitisation and Entrepreneurship. “As an institution, we have learnt to react with agility and to break new ground. For our staff, the possibility of a teleworking, for our students, the greater degree of independence of location and a self-determined pace of study in digital teaching, will remain as long-term benefits”, is the conclusion of Prof. Dr. Martin Huber, Vice President of Teaching and Learning at the University of Bayreuth.
Accordingly, the winter semester, now about to get under way, is sure to be a success for the (provisional) total of 12,688 students (last year: 12,413) and currently 249 professors, with its varying degrees of digital content. “Because we are convinced that studying also means meeting and exchanging ideas, we are striving to enable a maximum of face-to-face teaching under the current difficult conditions of physical distancing and hygiene rules”, University President Leible announced. “Our students are not to suffer any disadvantage in their academic progress as a result of the pandemic measures.” Didactically suitable, mixed forms of synchronous and asynchronous, digitally supported, and analogue teaching will be offered, adapted to the size and availability of rooms. If not otherwise feasible, some purely digital classes will still offered. A strict infection control and hygiene framework is currently binding for anyone coming on campus. As before, practical theses and practical events as well as exam preparations are foreseen to be possible on site. Above all, however, first-year and foreign students should be able to experience our campus first-hand as a place of study.
The University Governing Board of the University of Bayreuth is very positive about the State Government’s High-Tech Agenda. From Bayreuth’s point of view, it means 18 new research professorships, twelve new professorships in computer science, and just as many new professorships for BayBatt, plus three new professorships resulting from the AI competition, and seven new professorships for the Faculty of Life Sciences: Food, Nutrition and Health in Kulmbach. “In addition, some important construction projects will be fast-tracked”, reported Dr. Markus Zanner, Provost of the University of Bayreuth. “The new building of the ‘Centre for Business Start-ups’, the construction of a new building for the ‘Research Centre for African Studies’, the spatial planning for Kulmbach, and the Bavarian Centre for Battery Technology BayBatt – all of this can now be implemented much more quickly.” “This will enable us to develop new dynamics in fields that are very important to us”, said Leible and detailed: “In this way, Faculty VII in Kulmbach, with its approach to the life sciences that is unique in Germany, the internationally renowned Africa focus of the University of Bayreuth, BayBatt as an interdisciplinary research hub, and the attractiveness of GründerUni Bayreuth (Founders’ University of Bayreuth) will receive significant support.
Leible is looking forward to the upcoming Bavarian higher education law reform: “The tasks of the Bavarian state universities will in future be redefined by the higher education reform as a triad of research, teaching, and transfer”, the cabinet communication stated last week. “We are already well positioned in this respect”, comments Leible. Transfer in the form of “Third Mission” has long been anchored in the University of Bayreuth’s structural and development plan. Especially examples such as activities in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation, which are soon to be bundled in a separate institute, are proof of this. In addition, the University President explained: “The sustainability strategy which is currently being developed at the University of Bayreuth shows that we are already taking on our new responsibilities for society as a whole, for technical progress, for economy, ecology (...) in earnest.’ Indeed, for some time now, the University of Bayreuth has been contributing to the goal of disseminating more knowledge in society through further education formats such as Campus Academy.”
*Final figures will not be available until the official statistics deadline in December 2020.
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