This is how Berlin students think about their universities

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On Friday, it is decided which universities will receive additional millions. Students talk about the pressure to perform and where Berlin’s universities are top.

At 4 p.m. on Friday, the press conference at Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek will begin announcing which universities will be the winners in the billion-dollar federal-state competition.

Will the three major Berlin universities and the Charité manage to win the title of excellence together? We asked Berlin students what they thought of their universities, where they are excellent and where they are not so excellent.

Clemens Schumann, 21, studies physics at Freie Universität

What’s excellent now?

We sometimes have unbelievably competent professors. They also manage to get the students carried away by their way of lecturing. Sometimes there are people in theory events who only look at their notes once during a whole lecture and still write 24 boards full. They simply do this from what they can deduce in their minds.

That’s impressive and helps listeners to stay mentally in tune. At least it’s more exciting than a lecturer who just reads what he wrote down ages ago.

Where do you see problems?

My fellow students recently hung up a newspaper article in our student council room: It is said that physicists are the number one in depression, sleep disorders and burnout. We thought it was pretty funny. But some things in this subject really put unnecessary pressure on us. We have to fill in exercise sheets for our courses every week. That alone takes about 30 hours.

If you don’t answer the exercises well enough once, you may not be able to complete the course later. This is of course a problem for everyone who has to work. Therefore, it should be communicated more clearly how students can obtain financial means through scholarships.

Ayse Selin Güneytepe, 21, studies medicine at Charité

What makes your studies special?

Until two years ago, I lived in Istanbul and chose Berlin because my faculty always performs very well as a location in online rankings. Probably also because they invest a lot in research there.

Since I’ve been here, I’ve been particularly enthusiastic about how much the courses are based on student feedback. We have a portal that we can use to share our opinions on courses on offer. If we criticise something there, it will often actually be improved in the next semester. The management is extremely flexible.

What would you criticize?

Sometimes events are cancelled due to holidays. It is not my intention that we should also go to university on public holidays. It bothers me and many others that these dates are not made up. Instead, we plan as if there were no holidays to cancel the courses. Of course that doesn’t make sense. We have to learn the material independently in such cases. In some cases, however, this is not possible.

We have so-called examination courses. Here we go directly to the patients with the professional specialists. Or we learn in courses how to deal as friendly as possible with patients. These are fantastic offers, but I can’t teach myself this later at home alone.

Amin Al Khalili, 23 years old, studies energy and process technology at the Technical University of Vienna.

What do you like about your university?

The campus is big and beautiful and everyone tries to help each other as much as possible. But first and foremost for me is the excellent quality of my studies. At the moment I have almost no time left for a private life or to go to work – the courses are simply too demanding for that.

At the same time, however, I know that the degree will be worth the effort in the end. At least if I can make it through the extra semesters to the Master’s degree. My subject is quite common among students. Without additional specialisation, the whole thing is not worth so much.

Where do you see the biggest problems?

If I could change one thing immediately, it would definitely be the TU website. You almost get the feeling that it was deliberately designed to be complicated. Every piece of information we students have to fight for, it’s all so confusing. This is especially problematic when I need an official document.

And it doesn’t stop at one website. Usually I have to click my way through three or four different websites and portals, all of which belong to the university. Then I can collect what I need piece by piece. Very old-fashioned.

Jamil Zegrer, 22 years old, studies Cultural Studies at Humboldt University.

What’s excellent about your institute?

I don’t think much of the idea of Excellency and

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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