Lectures in front of the laptop, learning without direct exchange and closed libraries: Corona has made studying more difficult. In order to accommodate students, the state of Berlin has extended deadlines for final theses and term papers for four semesters. The regulation applied until the end of the winter semester. A new statutory ordinance for the summer semester is still being discussed in the House of Representatives.
In the meantime, however, decisions are already being made at the universities. What is in the Corona Ordinance in the Higher Education Act applies: that “the processing period (…) must be extended appropriately, taking into account the pandemic situation”. But what is “appropriate”? The individual universities decide on this.
Not always without conflict, as a case at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences (HTW) shows. There, the Asta demanded four weeks more time for students. The student representatives in the Commission for Studies and Teaching wanted to discuss this in advance – and according to Asta, did not get the opportunity to do so for weeks.
The students vented their anger on Twitter. “The way we deal with student representatives at our university sucks. That has to change!” The commission is the only one in which the representatives have half the votes to actually be able to make a difference, explains Stefanie Döring from the Asta of the HTW at the request of the Tagesspiegel. You felt left out.
In the Academic Senate (AS), the students then had to bow to the professorial majority. The extension of the deadline requested by the students was halved – to just two weeks. Have they now been wronged? The university management doesn’t see it that way: In the AS, “the students were able to present and discuss their application in detail,” explains a HTW spokeswoman.
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Ultimately, Stefanie Döring also confirms this. Right at the beginning, the Vice President emphasized that the opinion of the student representatives had to be heard in detail. After all, in the end you still managed to prevail against the university administration to some extent, says Döring. According to their application, the extension period should only be one week.
The example of the Alice Salomon Hochschule shows that things can be done differently. Processing times for bachelor’s and master’s theses are extended there by a flat rate of four weeks for the summer semester. For students with children, it increases by another two weeks. Deadlines for written examinations are extended after consultation with the lecturers – without specifications from the university management.
Shouldn’t there be a uniform regulation that sets clear lines? The science administration denied this on request: “In the absence of a necessary authorization basis in the Berlin Higher Education Act, the deadlines cannot be extended by ordinance.” It is therefore left to the discretion of the universities to what extent they want to accommodate students who are struggling with different consequences of the pandemic.