Dear students of the Free University of Berlin,
In the current time of crisis, we as the General Students' Committee (AStA) would like to address three concerns.
The most obvious issue is the impact of Corona/Covid-19 on FU students. We would like to inform you about the problems that affect students, what information and help is available, what we as the AStA are doing to help directly and how we are politically committed to social and solidary solutions.
One political project that affects all students in Berlin and on which we have been working for some time, even during the contact restrictions, is the revision of the Berlin Higher Education Act (Berliner Hochschulgesetz - BerlHG) by the Berlin government. In the second section of our mail you will find important information about this and a call to share your ideas and wishes, but also your difficulties in studying.
In the third section, we give you a small insight into the past year and how you can keep up to date on topics that are important to FU students. In the future we want to to inform you more about the political work of the AStA FU as the official student representation in various ways.
The effects of the Corona crisis on students are far-reaching and affect virtually all areas of study and student life. Many are facing considerable financial problems, for example because they have lost their jobs or have been supported by relatives up to now and can no longer be supported due to job losses in the family. University sports are cancelled, as well as almost all social interactions during studies. The places of learning, living and physical social interaction are in many cases closed indefinitely.
The building of the AStA FU is also closed at the moment. We try to keep up the counselling service by email and applications for a semester ticket grant or exemption are still being processed, but there is currently no financial plenary or cash hours. At certain times we are also available by telephone and, by arrangement, necessary documents (e.g. certificate for student council work) can be picked up or sent by mail.
You can find the latest information on how to reach us on our Corona Info page, besides the specific situation of the AStA FU we also inform about developments at the FU that influence our studies. For state and national information, e.g. on BAföG, we recommend the information page of the LandesAstenKonferenz Berlin (LAK). There are also useful links and tips for students, including a collection of counselling and support services, e.g. for psychological problems or those affected by domestic violence.
Together with many other student committees, we are calling for a summer of solidarity at the universities, in which teachers and students will jointly tackle the challenges of the crisis, provide structural relief and relieve the pressure to perform - from all sides. If you are organised in a FSI or university group and you also support the solidarity semester, write to us to be listed as a supporter on this page. The complete list of demands can be read here.
We unfortunately see that in Berlin many decisions concerning studies during Corona, are made without the participation of student representatives and information is sometimes announced late. We think that it is important to have confidence in a democratic constitution of the universities and we wish that committed student representatives are better integrated at all levels.
But there are also other issues in Berlin's higher education policy other than the coronavirus pandemic. Together with the other AStAs in Berlin, we have been working for one and a half years on the new version of the Berlin Higher Education Act and last summer we presented a list of demands from the perspective of the students. This is how we have been trying to bring our topics and our perspective to the political arena.
The Berlin Higher Education Act (BerlHG) currently regulates almost all the basic principles on which the university is organized - e.g. university admission, study conditions, examination rights, but also democratic participation and protection against discrimination. Now there is a chance to improve our life at the university.
This legislative process, which will influence all of our studies, should not go unnoticed while everyone is busy with something else. Therefore we will draw attention to it in the social media using #unserBerlHG from April 15th and invite you to inform yourself and post your own ideas. You can find the demands we have worked out so far at.
Read the complete call online.
What does the AStA FU actually do? This is the question most students ask themselves when they hear about the General Student Committee for the first time. And even people interested in higher education policy often lack an overview of the manifold activities of the AStA. By using social media, for example, it is possible to stay up to date. Events are regularly advertised on Facebook (@astafuberlin), current university policy issues are discussed on Twitter (@astafu), and our Instagram profile (@astafuberlin) has been filled with a couple of photos from everyday AStA life since summer 2018. All these means of communication come together on our website (astafu.de), where we invite to events and publish press releases.
But even so, it is not always easy to keep an overview, which is why we would like to take the opportunity today to inform all students about what has happened in the months since the publication of the last annual review in January 2019.
To read the yearly review online, with a table of contents and with working URLs, please follow this link below. Unfortunately it is currently available only in german.
We wish everyone a good start to this unusual semester and will keep you informed. We are looking forward to your contributions using #unserBerlHG and invite you to have a look at the detailed information on the website if you want to know more.
The representatives of AStA FU