07.09.2020

Campus Life at Last

Some 150 students are starting a new “hybrid” semester at Reutlingen University’s ESB Business School.

This week, the ESB Business School welcomes nearly 150 students in its BSc International Management Double Degree (IMX) programme. Following intense preparations, this programme is the first to begin this all-new, faculty-specific hybrid semester. Other degree programmes will be phased in over the coming weeks. Special focus is on those students who have not yet been able to study at the Reutlingen campus; they in particular will be able to attend lectures in person. A comprehensive catalogue of measures – including staggered lecture times, detailed room plans with minimum distances, a comprehensive infection prevention plan and other measures – will ensure the greatest possible protection for students and teachers.

The International Management Double Degree (IMX) programme is welcoming back its fifth-semester students to the campus this week. For them, these are their first lectures in Reutlingen, as they have spent their first two years abroad at one of our respected partner institutions in the International Partnership of Business Schools (IPBS). The division into several attendance groups makes it easier to comply with the respective hygiene and distance regulations. Students who cannot or do not want to come to Reutlingen due to the Covid-19 pandemic (e.g. students from China and Mexico) may fully attend their lectures online.

For first-year students at the ESB Business School, lectures begin on October 19. Prior to that, there will be a phased-in start for the second semesters of all ESB Bachelor's programmes and for ESB Master's students. In this way, students who have not been able to study at the campus so far can familiarise themselves with our excellent teaching environment, benefit from the many activities offered by the Student Network, and can establish the personal contacts that are so important for their studies.

Lectures for higher semesters are mostly held online due to limited room availability. Exceptions are laboratories and courses in Werk150, which cannot be conducted online in any meaningful way. We have systematically evaluated our experience from the past online semester, and that now contributes significantly to ensuring the continued high quality of teaching in this area as well.

In order to keep the risk of infection as low as possible for everyone involved, the ESB Business School made use of the summer break to develop a comprehensive catalogue of measures for safe studies. At the start of semester, the students on campus are made aware of the measures in place to prevent the spread of the virus and are required to sign a declaration. Anyone who develops symptoms relevant to the virus may not enter the campus until the situation has been clarified. This applies also to campus members who have had contact with infected persons or suspected cases.

Students who arrive in Reutlingen from a risk area must present a negative corona test – recognized by the Robert Koch Institute – before the start of the lecture period. A two-week quarantine in Germany is not sufficient. All persons are strictly obliged to wear a cloth covering for the mouth and nose in all university buildings; this is recommended for the entire outdoor area of the campus as well. The mouth-and-nose covering may only be removed once the wearer has taken a seat in the lecture rooms or at her/his workplace. A security company will support the observance of these measures during this semester.

In order to prevent too many people from crowding the corridors, the Learning Centre and the cafeteria, the start and end times of lectures will be staggered. This is to ensure that not too many people come together at once during the breaks or at the end of lectures. Each lecture room is allocated exclusively to a specific semester of a study programme in order to counteract a possible spread of the virus. Comprehensive hygiene measures include more frequent cleaning cycles, options for students to clean contact surfaces themselves, and set times to air out the rooms. Based on the experience gained in the first few weeks, the overall plan may be subsequently adapted as more and more courses are phased in to the semester.

The Dean, Professor Christoph Binder, says the regulations represent a sensible approach. “Our hybrid concept allows for a responsible winter semester with a significant proportion of in-person events while complying with the necessary regulations. We have done all we can to make use of our experience – and the feedback of our students – from the previous semester to implement the measures as part of regular studies,” he says.

The management of ESB Business School currently assumes that end-of-semester examinations will be able to take place on campus as planned. As in the previous semester, students who attend only online courses can be examined via take-home exams or by video conference. This offer is particularly important for degree programmes with a high proportion of international students. In addition, solutions are being developed for students who cannot complete their planned stays abroad this winter semester due to the Covid-19 pandemic. “This semester, too, we hope to enable all students to complete their semester or their studies as planned,” says Dean of Studies, Professor Julia Brüggemann.