What will the winter semester be like? This is what Cara Coetzee wanted to ask TUM President Thomas F. Hofmann personally. Therefore, she attended the first TUM Presidential Student Lunch – and she received answers.
Cara, you were in the first round of students who met with President Thomas Hofmann for lunch. How was that?
Cara Coetzee: It was quite successful, I guess. At first, the atmosphere was a bit formal – but that is normal, of course. The atmosphere quickly became really relaxed, as our President was laid-back and very approachable. We soon had an animated conversation going.
Why did you apply to participate?
Above all, I wanted to know how things would continue next semester. It was a good opportunity to discuss this directly with the President and his staff.
What topics did you bring along yourself?
The question we are all interested in the most is how things will be in the winter semester. Will teaching continue in digital form only? I, for example, just completed a semester abroad at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, which ended at the end of May. From mid-March onwards, all courses and exams of the semester took place virtually.
How did that work?
As I had already been in Valencia a few weeks before, I knew my fellow students personally – which made the group work, only online, a lot easier. Direct exchange with others is really important. Any student will confirm this. That's why the most important question for me was how the winter semester will be organized at TUM.
And how will it be in the winter semester?
The President described the coming semester as a "hybrid semester". He explained to us that, although the large lectures with many listeners will (have to) be held digitally, smaller seminars and tutorials will take place as face-to-face events again, if possible. The university is a place of exchange, and direct exchange is so important!
Large lectures do not only mean many people, but also a passive role for the individual.
That's absolutely right. Tutorials in small groups, where active participation is required, are much more important. To me, this is when I learn the most.
Large lecture halls are less suitable for active participation.
The president informed us that many new formats and forms are being worked on. For example, one of the lecture halls at Main Campus is being converted into the "lecture hall of the future": instead of ascending rows of chairs, a kind of terrace is to be built, and there will be group tables. That sounds very interesting.
Another topic at the Presidential Lunch was the recognition of study achievements abroad.
During my semester abroad in Valencia, the recognition of achievements was not a problem, as there are containers for modules from abroad. President Hofmann told us about the EuroTech Alliance, which I had never heard of before. TUM is cooperating with its European partner universities to ensure that individual modules can soon be attended digitally and recognized by other universities. That sounds great.
What else would you personally wish for with regard to your studies?
For example, I think that we need more teaching on research methods in the Bachelor's program. Right now, it is optional, but giving some fundamentals to all students would be really beneficial.
Would you recommend participating in the Presidential Student Lunch to your fellow students?
Absolutely! It was a great event. A direct conversation with the university president… when do you have the opportunity to do that?
(Interview: Verena Meinecke)
Cara Coetzee (22) is from Pretoria in South Africa, where she took the German Abitur at the German International School in Pretoria. She has been living in Munich for four years. She has just completed her Bachelor's degree in Environmental Engineering and will start working towards her Master's degree in Transportation Systems in the fall.
- The first TUM Presidential Student Lunch took place on July 2, 2020. Further Student Lunch events are in preparation. A short application with suggested topics and ideas for the interview is required. All information: TUM Presidential Student Lunch