„ZOOM is not a hygiene concept“

Theses on the study of the future from the students‘ point of view – We draw an intermediate conclusion!


Universities are social experimentation, development and living space

<<ENGLISH>> After schools, students are now becoming the focus of the Corona debate. On April 12, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will also address students at German universities in a video speech, thus referring to their special study and life situation. For a year now, students have been interviewed for the podcast formats „NextNormal“ and „Studium im Shutdown“ and asked about their study experiences during the Corona Shutdown. Together with students from various European countries, the NextEducation working group at DHBW Karlsruhe discusses how they experience the current situation as students, what can be learned and taken away from it for the future of higher education, and what visions for ideal study in the future can be developed from it. In order to classify this scientifically, the interviews conducted have now been systematically analysed and evaluated for the first time. From the results, the research group derives the following theses for the design of the study of the future.

Students increasingly perceive that universities are a place of encounter, social exchange and social learning – in other words, a living space in which they develop as people. The pandemic study situation makes this particularly apparent as a discrepancy experience at the moment – because if universities focus on providing content in the pandemic situation, the developmental space of study narrows permanently instead of widening. Universities should now seize the opportunity and recognize the potential that lies in further developing themselves as a socially and individually significant development space for students that goes far beyond the imparting of knowledge. Universities will therefore have to develop new participation formats – including online.

Study between self-organization and being left behind

After a year of shutdown, students are more dependent than ever on developing learning autonomy and self-regulation. This means that resilience, self-organization and self-learning skills become more important. Students are challenged on an individual level to organize their learning processes independently. This represents both an opportunity and a threat: For example, after the shutdown, a generation of students will return to higher education with very different experiences. Some will have developed higher self-organization competencies and articulate new demands on teaching and learning environments – at the same time, the risk of not being able to meet these demands and being left behind increases. Students therefore expect to be supported and taken seriously in their individual learning and life situations, and to be able to participate in university teaching on an equal footing. Universities will therefore have to develop new participation formats – including online.

Ulf-Daniel Ehlers und Laura Eigbrecht

Students as partners for university development

After a year of studying from home, the view from a distance brings a new clarity and a critical awareness of students on their studies regarding their needs and the services offered. In a new pact between students and universities, students can be involved as strong, critical partners in strategy processes and quality development procedures in the future. However, this also means that universities must learn to allow for blurring: instead of transferring familiar teaching formats 1:1 to the digital space, they should develop an openness to how university teaching can also take place differently. Students expect universities to include their wishes and needs in the design of current and future teaching and perceive this as a quality factor.


Without exception, students now experience that studying also works differently. They are more aware of what constitutes good teaching for them. They organize their studies and their lives independently and demand individualized and easily accessible support services. After the pandemic, they will continue to articulate their demands. In addition to numerous challenges, the pandemic has also brought forth the potential of students to shape their learning processes in a self-determined and self-organized way, to reflect on them, and to contribute to shaping the study of the future as experts in good university teaching. This is a strong signal to include student voices in the debate about higher education in times of Covid-19 and in the future to provide quality education accessible to all.

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