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student representatives discuss with Bremen's science senator


Student representatives discuss with Bremen's science senator

A life below the poverty line, a lack of job opportunities and an unattractive cultural programme: Lina Hagedorn and Fabian Lignitz, who head the General Student Committee (AStA) at Bremerhaven University of Applied Sciences, as well as Jule Petersen and Thao Berthy from the executive committee of the Student Council (StuRa) brought serious problems of their fellow students to the table. Sitting across from them was Bremen's Senator for Science, Dr. Claudia Schilling (SPD), who had come to the university to exchange views with the students ahead of the parliamentary elections on 14 May. "I would like to know what moves you, what you want," the politician explained and received a clear picture of the situation from the student representatives. Fabian Lignitz explained that the financial situation is difficult for many students, using the example of the late payment of the energy allowance. It was announced as a "Christmas present". But students have only been able to apply for the flat rate since mid-March. "But before it was paid out, the semester fee was due," the AStA chair added. Many have to work alongside their studies, which is often difficult to reconcile with the prescribed standard period of study. "Many students live below the poverty line, but have no access to the citizen's allowance and in some cases have to pay for health insurance themselves." It is not uncommon for students to be faced with the choice of suing their parents for maintenance, as they are unable to pay the Bafög maximum of 870 euros, on which the parents' maintenance is based, out of their own pockets. "Some have to take out a loan and then start their professional life with debts," the AStA chair summed up.

Lina Hagedorn, also a member of the AStA board, added that at the same time, the housing situation in Bremerhaven is challenging for students: "Cheap housing is currently limited, a room in a shared flat costs around 300 euros, and that's only possible with a part-time job." This poses the next problem - there are few jobs for students in the maritime city that can be easily combined with their studies. "If you're lucky, you can get a job in the port," says Hagedorn. "Many waitress, but a lot of that has fallen away because of the pandemic." Those who take a job at the university as student assistants to support teaching get their money late. "I have to work up to two and a half months before I get my first payment," Lignitz calculated. "We can do something about that," the senator promised and suggested improving the situation with advance payments.

The students took this up immediately and suggested to Schilling that student jobs should also be created in the cultural and leisure sector, which would improve the financial situation of prospective academics and at the same time make studying in Bremerhaven more attractive. "Currently, when we as AStA organise parties, we are reported every time, despite having permission," Hagedorn explained. In addition, many students leave Bremerhaven after finishing their studies, which in turn is clearly felt in the city. University rector Prof. Dr. Dr. Alexis Papathanassis, who also took part in the discussion, promoted a leisure campus in this context: "There is something besides seminars and lectures. We need housing and leisure facilities, events and parties and a creative scene, students can then also work there." This is a clear win-win situation for the students and for the city: "It is important to combine the possibility of a social and cultural life with extra income for students. A leisure campus as a place for learning and events increases the attractiveness of Bremerhaven as a place to study and also leads to a revitalisation of the city centre." Papathanassis proposes to revitalise the well-known Alfred Wegener Institute building, reminiscent of a ship, not far from the university, with student activities. Bremen's science senator was very taken with the idea. "We will tackle the issue of the leisure campus after the election," promised Schilling and thanked the students for the "important insight" into their situation. (Translated on behalf of deepL)