University of Bayreuth, Press Release No 141/2021 - 11 Oktober 2021
University of Bayreuth well prepared for a successful new start after three coronavirus semesters
On 18 October, largely normal study operations will begin once again at the University of Bayreuth for the 2021/22 winter semester. The University of Bayreuth (UBT) has prepared intensively for renewed in-person instruction on campus and at satellite campuses with well thought-out teaching and hygiene concepts. According to projections, the number of students will remain stable at around 13,440 compared to this time last year, and is thus very slightly above the number of the last pre-coronavirus semester. The coronavirus-related dip in the number of students from abroad is also slowly levelling out.
A few days before the start of lectures, the UBT University Governing Board presented projections for the coming semester. According to these, 13,440 students are expected in Bayreuth, Kulmbach, and Thurnau for the 2021/22 winter semester, 2,030 of whom in their first semester at university. This means that the number of students and first-year students has increased very slightly. "We are levelling off at this level and have thus reached exactly the size that allows our university to remain familiar and gives us enough freedom for experimentation, excellence, and exclusivity," says University President Prof. Dr. Stefan Leible. Also pleasing are the numbers of international students, which slumped due to worldwide travel restrictions, but are slowly recovering. Twelve percent of UBT's students come from abroad.
"In this special year, we are actually also welcoming second and third semester students like first semester students, since their start of studies fell through due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they can now gain their first real experience of being at university," explains Prof. Dr. Martin Huber, Vice President for Teaching & Learning at the University of Bayreuth, "albeit with restrictions. Out of responsibility for everyone's health, we have decided on a room occupancy rate of only 50 percent, which means that every second seat may be occupied. Where more students need to attend than a room would hold, alternatives such as digital formats will be offered. We are convinced that we will manage a re-launch very well this way." Huber also explained the lessons learned from past semesters: "Digitally supported teaching - such as blended learning and hybrid forms - will be continued where it has proven successful. However, in-person studying remains valuable, synchronous time reserved for working together."
Future-oriented: Sustainable University
Even during the coronavirus restrictions, UBT launched one of its currently most important projects, the adoption of a sustainability strategy.
Prof. Dr. Susanne Tittlbach, Vice President for Digitisation, Innovation & - this is new - also for Sustainability since 1.9.2021, explained the measures taken by UBT in all areas, i.e. governance, infrastructure, research, teaching, and third mission: "The big goal is climate neutrality, and both students and teachers are working towards this across all subjects and departments. This makes us one of the pioneers in Bavaria's university landscape." The measures include not only the reporting of environmental data and the saving of CO2 through modern, combined heat and power generation, but also the newly launched supplementary course in sustainability, which is open to all students, and specialised new courses of study such as the master's programme in Environmental & Resource Technology.
Research at UBT traditionally revolves around sustainability. Prof. Dr. Britta Planer-Friedrich, the new Vice-President for Research & Junior Scholars since 1 October 2021, cites research on energy as an example. Research at UBT includes high-temperature electrolysis, power-to-gas and fuel cells, and special fields such as the research area of microplastics and work on biomaterials also make a contribution to the field of sustainability, as does the work in degree programmes such as Biodiversity & Ecology and Geoecology. Prof. Dr. Planer Friedrich explains: "The opportunity to do research is a privilege and at the same time a great responsibility towards society. The importance of research has become increasingly clear to government and society during the pandemic. We would therefore like to continue to preserve our university freedom in which creative ideas can flourish for our researchers."
Globally networked: International University
Research thrives on international exchange, which Prof. Dr. Thomas Scheibel, Vice President for Internationalisation, Gender Equity & Diversity, is responsible for, and wishes to intensify on the University Governing Board. University President Prof. Stefan Leible announces that the internationalisation of UBT will be further promoted - for example, through another foreign office in Boston and the networking of research bases. Hybrid types of research cooperation, teaching, and mobility are to be intensively expanded. To this end, the digitalisation of UBT will be further developed. To this end, the University has had a Chief Information Officer (CIO) since 1 October 2021: Prof. Dr. Torsten Eymann, Chair of Business Administration VII - Business & Information Systems Management and previously Vice President. He controls and prioritises projects at UBT, and will significantly advance the use of artificial intelligence at the University of Bayreuth.
The University is on the home stretch in implementing the Free State's high-tech agenda: "Of the resulting 52 new professorships - seven of them for the Kulmbach campus alone - appointment negotiations are already underway for 35," reports Dr Nicole Kaiser, Provost of the University of Bayreuth since April 2021. Professorships are being and have been filled that will further hone the profile of UBT. For example, a junior professorship for social entrepreneurship in the field of GründerUni Bayreuth and professorships at the Bavarian Centre for Battery Technology BayBATT in the field of energy storage research. This will result in heightened demand for new premises. Negotiations are in the final stages for the purchase of land in Kulmbach to build the new faculty there, as well as for tender processes for the construction of the Africa Research Building and the Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. "This requires flexibility and motivation on the part of everyone involved - a challenge we are happy to accept," says University Provost Kaiser. University President Leible sums up: "We are on a gratifying and, above all, successful course."