Professor Hofsäss, what are the current plans for the winter semester at Leipzig University?
We plan to resume in-person teaching in the winter semester. This applies to all teaching. The corresponding seminar rooms and lecture halls, which we were previously only able to use with somewhat fewer students (if at all), have now been equipped and rearranged to accommodate the full number of participants. This is an important prerequisite for in-person teaching.
There will, however, be one small modification. In the case of lecture halls with over 200 seats, we will have to divide groups somewhat. The same applies to seminar rooms with more than 50 seats. A corresponding occupancy plan will be drawn up in August. This means that lecture halls with up to 200 seats, and seminar rooms with up to 50, can be fully occupied. First of all, this is good news for our plans to resume in-person teaching in the winter semester. The libraries can also be used to full capacity, the PC pools will be open, and the refectories and cafés will once again offer their full range of services.
However, we must also bear in mind that if the legal framework changes due to increasing public health risks, we will have to adapt accordingly. At worst, this may mean having to switch back to online teaching. With this in mind, I kindly ask teaching staff to consider the need for a “plan B” when preparing for the winter semester.
It is important for me to say to students: come to Leipzig! Ideally they should be fully vaccinated. However, lecturers who know that their courses will be attended by a high proportion of international students who cannot be in Leipzig should plan hybrid seminars. This will make it easier for international students to participate from abroad.
- “It is also very important to let new students – which, to a certain extent, even includes those now in their third semester who have yet to experience any in-person teaching at all – find their feet, and to pay attention to their needs on a personal level. Because they, too, have spent the past 18 months primarily learning online.”
Vice-Rector Professor Hofsäss
What should students and lecturers pay attention to when preparing for the winter semester?
First of all, students and lecturers should mentally prepare to return to in-person teaching after more than 18 months. It may sound strange, but completely reorganising daily study routines and spending the whole day with a variety of people in different settings is going to take some getting used to! It is particularly important that teaching staff are mindful of allowing more space than usual for social learning, for personal exchange. Students should be given even more opportunities to get to know each other, to form study groups, and so on. It is also very important to let new students – which, to a certain extent, even includes those now in their third semester who have yet to experience any in-person teaching at all – find their feet, and to pay attention to their needs on a personal level. Because they, too, have spent the past 18 months primarily learning online. In this respect, learning and the learning experience in seminars should be approached with a certain degree of sensitivity. We have set up tutorials especially for new students to help them get off to a good start in what is certainly a more difficult time than normal.
It is important to note that our plans to resume face-to-face teaching do not preclude the integration of digital components into courses; this was already the case before the pandemic. Now, though, it could be that more lecturers are keen to make use of more digital tools due to their positive experience in the last semesters. That’s good, too. We have equipped a whole host of seminar rooms and lecture halls with hybrid technology. This will help lecturers to adapt their teaching accordingly, especially in the case of large groups. To this end, teaching staff will be offered a variety of resources to help them prepare for hybrid teaching in September.
Students are advised to continue to use laptops and smartphones as study aids. So my request to students is that they have the necessary equipment ready for the upcoming semester. There will be special hygiene rules for our PC pools, all of which will be open again. Practical laboratory work will be subject to individual hygiene rules. These will be announced by the lecturers.
We are keen to continue full contact tracing for all teaching. A QR code will be placed at each seat so that students can register via the “Darfichrein” portal.
- “Leipzig University is working with the German Red Cross to offer more vaccinations for students in September and at the start of the semester, which may be especially important for international students.”
Vice-Rector Professor Hofsäss
Let us refrain from distinguishing between students who are vaccinated, tested, or have recovered, and those who are/have not. People who are vaccinated, tested or have recovered can also pass on the virus. Nor would it be feasible to implement the necessary checks before each lecture or seminar. We also have to respect people’s rights.
That is why it is all the more important, and here we trust our students, to get vaccinated if possible. Because only if virtually everyone is vaccinated can we ensure the best possible protection, but also a feeling of security. And that feeling of security will in turn be a good basis for relaxed learning in lecture halls, seminar rooms and the libraries. We therefore urge students who have not yet been vaccinated, or who have only been vaccinated once, to get vaccinated by the start of the semester. There are plenty of vaccination services in their home towns or here in Leipzig. Vaccination centres and doctor’s surgeries have spare vaccination slots. Protecting yourself also means protecting others. In the last few weeks in particular, more and more students have campaigned for the resumption of in-person teaching from the winter semester. In a community where teaching staff and students all bear a responsibility to each other, it is essential that we live up to our own responsibility in what is still a difficult situation.
Together with the DRK, Leipzig University has offered a total of 14 vaccination appointments on the Jahnallee campus in recent weeks. How are things looking for the vaccination campaign?
About 600 members of staff and 900 students have been vaccinated in the last few weeks, with around 2700 vaccine doses already administered.
Leipzig University is working with the German Red Cross to offer more vaccinations for students in September and at the start of the semester, which may be especially important for international students.
- Information about vaccination services from Leipzig University, the City of Leipzig and other institutions
- Pandemic updates on the University website