“Universities are more than just educational institutions, they reach deep into many aspects of students’ lives. We meet our friends, participate in sports or other clubs, or use central services, such as mentoring programmes.” Jürgen Schiffer, President of the Student Council at Technical University of Munich stresses that student well-being is of extreme importance and should not be overlooked in handling the lockdown.
End of May, the student representations of all six EuroTech partners came together in a virtual exchange to share their experiences during times of complete lockdown and the current careful return to the universities. All partner campuses closed except for critical activities in March and April. The different institutions have adapted quickly and switched to online teaching formats, and so far experiences of students and teachers have been good. DTU and TU Eindhoven are the first partners to now move to a digital exam phase.
Addressing mental health in times of crisis
How to ensure student well-being in these fast-paced changes in university structures, when expectations and pressure on students are overall very high, has been the predominant topic of the EuroTech student council representatives. The crisis also has an impact on the students’ financial situation, which additionally causes stress. The goal of improving student mental health can only be achieved through an effective partnership between students and institutional actors. Seeking the dialogue with the respective groups, the student councils propose what services or structures students need to succeed, so that they feel as part of the university family even when restrictions will remain in place.
The EuroTech student representations plan to continue on the exchange and hope to have a physical meeting in the fall/winter, being optimistic that it becomes possible again.