Message from the Dean: 02-2021
“Quo usque tandem abutere, Corona, patientia nostra? Quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet?”
The (slightly adjusted) opening lines of Cicero’s Catilinaria have been on my mind a lot recently. Because, like many, I often wonder how long this pandemic will abuse our patience, how long it is still to “mock” us? Still, though we have been through another set of hard months, with restrictions and depressing infection numbers, I feel there is a silver lining.
In terms of university life, as far as I can see everyone has adapted well to the virtual teaching formats. Although I am still really sorry about the missed out campus experience for our “Erstis” in particular, I am confident we will complete this semester even more successfully than the last one.
One thing that certainly weighs on your minds is exams. This exam season, there will be no on-site exams, instead we will make use of the now well-established online formats.
In that respect, I can reassure you. While there may have been some, in the scope of things, minor quibbles with the exams in the summer, our ISC and the faculty have made good use of the lessons learned from the summer’s experience. This time we are even better prepared!
In December, we held a few mid-term exams, and the improved platforms worked perfectly smoothly. The ISC offers detailed information regarding the rules and regulations, explanatory videos, and exemplary exams to highlight the technical procedures on its website. Go over these materials, so you don’t lose sleep worrying over technical challenges, but can focus on exam preparation.
Another thing you shouldn’t lose sleep on is thinking about how to game the system. A thing that considerably disturbed my colleagues and me in the summer-exam season was that a fair number of students cheated on the exam – and were caught.
Let this be a word of warning. Be fair to the vast majority of your fellow students who play by the rules. We are not turning a blind eye to cheating. We are very good - by experience and by acquiring additional IT tools – at detecting attempts to cheat, and there are consequences: validated attempts to cheat will be noted on your transfer records and in severe cases, repeat offenders will be expelled from their program (“exmatrikuliert”).
As you may have heard, the Bavarian parliament has passed legislation to stop the clock for the semester count for this winter semester, too. So the time limit to pass your required exams has been extended by two semesters.
As this is somewhat formally relevant, here the German formulation:
„Neben der in der jeweiligen Prüfungs- und Studienordnung festgelegten Regelstudienzeit gilt für die im Sommersemester 2020 und/ oder Wintersemester 2020/21 immatrikulierten und nicht beurlaubten Studierenden eine um ein bzw. zwei Semester verlängerte individuelle Regelstudienzeit.“
This also extends the maximum duration for which you can receive BAföG funding.
Unfortunately, the current statistics do not give me much hope for on-site teaching in the summer term, either. While I am confident many cherished aspects of our daily life will come back, many people crammed together in a confined space – like in a lecture hall – will remain a bad idea for at least another couple of months. Hence, this summer will see our third “virtual” semester.
We deeply regret this! The close interaction among scholars and students is the essence of university life, for most of us, it ranks among the chief reasons to pursue academic careers. Hence, we are already very much looking forward to returning to regular on-site interactions. But this time is yet to come.
Not only on-site classes and lectures will remain suspended, this also holds for all sorts of other events and celebrations. While last year, these events were scrapped, for this year we are committed to adopt formats that allow us to preserve the purpose of the original event. So be on the outlook for e-vites to academic ceremonies and graduation festivities in the weeks and months to come.
Before I conclude, let me raise my “ceterum censeo”: I am acutely aware that the tense situation, confinement, and sometimes also material concerns may have led to considerable stress and anxiety. Prioritize your psychological safety and take good care of yourself. In case you feel overwhelmed by the situation, do not hesitate to reach out. For example, the Studentenwerk offers counselling services.
But this is also a time where we have to watch out for one another. Be mindful, offer help, and support your friends and fellow students and colleagues. Look out for signs of stress and foster psychological safety.
Let’s make sure we take good care of each other. Some help with that might be gleaned from the “Happy New Year”-newsletter which we sent around recently.
“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more (Henry V; Shakespeare)”
So far, we have fared reasonably well, during a very challenging time. I hope, by continued efforts paired with good will and a mutual understanding of shared interests, we will continue to do well.
I sincerely look forward to the day when the state of affairs allows us to revive the aspects of university live that we all appreciate so much - to generate and share knowledge via personal exchange and constructive discussion. I, we, very much look forward to seeing all of you! Until then, stay safe.
Florian Englmaier, Dean of the Faculty of Economics