As the Landesastenkonferenz (LAK) Hamburg we currently see massive social and financial problems affecting students due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students live under precarious conditions and are therefore particularly hard hit by the crisis. We call on the city of Hamburg, and thus especially the Bürgerschaft and the Senate, as well as the universities, to contain these effects and also to explicitly provide financial means for the livelihood of students.
Financial consequences of the general order to contain the COVID-19 pandemic for students at Hamburg's universities.
Many students are currently in a difficult financial situation, as they often earn their living through mini-jobs and employment in sectors that are particularly affected by the Allgemeinverfügung. The comprehensive shutdown of many small businesses, catering establishments and recreational enterprises is leading to a loss of earnings for students across the board, while at the same time the measures taken at the federal level, such as the short-time work regulations, are not taking effect. Tutor jobs are also not secure due to the unclear handling of the coming semester. In addition, financial cushions are not available in the majority of cases. As a result, many students are unable to pay their rent, semester fees or other running costs.
Consequences for the course of studies
Colleges and universities are currently forced to adapt their regular teaching to the situation created by Covid-19. However, this usually means that the teaching cannot meet the usual quality standards. In addition, it is not yet foreseeable that the teaching content, which must necessarily take place in physical form, can still take place this semester. It will not be possible to work on final theses at the same speed, especially if laboratory access is necessary for this purpose and access to literature is also more difficult. For these reasons, many students will be forced to extend their studies. Benefits, such as BAföG, which are dependent on the duration of studies, will be negatively affected as a result. International students will also face a variety of problems.
We also want to point out that digital alternatives cannot replace a semester with attendance. There are many problems, such as the lack of necessary end devices or software licenses, which in turn are associated with cost-intensive purchases. In this case, people who are financially worse off are massively disadvantaged. In addition, there are further uncertainties, e.g. to what extent access to laboratories or other stationary research equipment can be guaranteed.
Libraries and access to literature
The closure of libraries is currently a problem for the entire scientific community that should not be underestimated. Both students and academic staffand professorsare absolutely dependent on access to literature for their academic work. Digital access in the libraries should be significantly expanded. Students and all other members of the university must be enabled to advance their research, scientific papers and homework from home as well.
Social consequences due to a change in semester schedule.
First-year students in particular, who start their studies particularly insecure and who can hardly receive any help in getting started due to the lack of contact with other students, must be supported. This also applies to international students.
Support of the Studierendenwerk
The Studierendenwerk is an important social provider for the needs of students. Both the provision of affordable housing in student dormitories and the provision of affordable meals in the dining halls are indispensable measures to make studying possible for all people. The Studierendenwerk in particular is also in a difficult situation due to the loss of income in the dining halls caused by the closure. In order to relieve the financial burden on students on the one hand and to ensure the continued existence of the Studierendenwerk on the other, financial support for the Studierendenwerk by the city is therefore absolutely necessary.
Proposed solutions and demands for the social relief of students by the LAK
The LandesAstenKonferenz therefore calls for rapid emergency measures for all affected students and long-term solutions to ensure the financial existence of students and qualitatively appropriate teaching. We propose the following points in this context:
- An emergency fund for students, modeled on the rescue fund for the self-employed, will be established to safeguard students' livelihoods.
- Students are forgiven significant living expenses, especially if an emergency fund is not established:
- The universities waive administrative cost contributions for re-registration for the SoSe 2020.
- The HVV waives or significantly moderates the costs for the semester ticket. The use of the ticket must continue to be enabled.
- The Studierendenwerk waives rental costs for students. The same is conceivable for SAGA and other landlords.
- Exmatriculations due to non-payment of semester fees are waived.
- The universities are requested to continue to pay student employees of all types and tutors, even if the activity cannot currently be performed. The faculties are to find appropriate solutions for the starting weeks with the OE teams.
- The BAföG entitlement must be extended by one semester for all recipients without exception. If courses are only offered once a year, the extension must be adjusted accordingly by another semester.
- For international students, it must be ensured that the upcoming semester is not included in the ten-year maximum duration for study purposes. If courses are only offered once a year, the extension must be adjusted accordingly by an additional semester.
- In the case of an online Summer Term 2020, the necessary infrastructure will be provided for all students to participate:
- Suitable computing devices are made available to students, for example through loans from the universities.
- Necessary software licenses that are normally only accessible from university computers are provided.
- Necessary literature is made available online, for example, upon request to libraries for specific literature.
- The ability to pick up pre-ordered literature from the university libraries is being explored.
- The negative consequences for the course of studies are mitigated as comprehensively as possible:
- Digital teaching-learning offerings can only replace classroom seminars and lectures to a limited extent. There are no disadvantages for students who are unable to attend compulsory courses under these conditions.
- Students will not be disadvantaged by the elimination or postponement of examinations.
- Non mandatory pre-exam requirements are waived.
- Application deadlines for all degree programs and collegiate programs are extended.
- Deadlines for submission of coursework and theses will be extended as circumstances require.
- The social isolation of students, especially for freshmen and international students, is counteracted by suitable formats on the part of the Studierendenwerk and the universities.
the Hamburg LandesAstenKonferenz (LAK)
- University of Hamburg (email@example.com)
- Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hamburg University of Technology (email@example.com)
- HafenCityUniversity Hamburg (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Hamburg University of Fine Arts (email@example.com)
- Hamburg University of Music and Theatre (firstname.lastname@example.org)