Our foreign students attested to the excellent conditions for study at the University of Passau in the International Student Barometer (ISB) survey, co-funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK). In the questionnaire, students were asked about their level of satisfaction with the university’s facilities, the support given to students from abroad and the quality of life in the area. In comparison to the 238 other tertiary education providers which participated in the ISB study, of which 56 were located in Germany, the University of Passau received excellent marks for almost all aspects examined.
High marks for seminar rooms, sports facilities and libraries
The university’s infrastructure received particularly high marks, showing that students clearly feel at ease in the seminar rooms, sports facilities and libraries. More than 90 percent of respondents were satisfied or highly satisfied with the university’s environment. One aspect that was particularly appreciated was how easy it is to get to know fellow German students due to the manageable size of the university campus. Professor Wolfgang Hau, Vice President for International Relations, explains: “This is not an overgrown university where students are awash in a sea of anonymity; instead, foreign students who come to Passau to study find helpful professors, university staff and fellow students who take an active interest in them.”
Culture of hospitality
“We combine academic cosmopolitanism with a culture of hospitality, enabling our guests to quickly find their way around and get into the flow of things – helping them come to grips with the language and their coursework, but also engaging with them on a personal level. The upshot is that our incoming foreign students rapidly become true Passavian students, and later alumni, who hold the university dear and are keen to recommend it as a place of study.”
There is no denying that studying in a medium-sized town also has its drawbacks, particularly for students from abroad – a fact that is reflected in the sections of the ISB survey in which Passau did less well: a mere two-thirds consider the local public transport infrastructure adequate and only about half of the respondents are satisfied with the availability of student jobs.
Quality of teaching
But this is offset by the quality of teaching at the university: nearly 90 percent were satisfied or highly satisfied with their lecturers, the course curriculum and the help received when working through the learning materials. The International Office also received good marks for their efforts to integrate new arrivals: at the start of each academic term, International Office staff organise Orientation Weeks to welcome and prepare exchange students for life and study in Passau. This includes holding events to help international students get to know each other and provide an opportunity to connect with their fellow German students.
An attractive place to study
For Professor Burkhard Freitag, President of the University, the ISB results are at once confirmation and motivation: “The university obviously benefits greatly from word-of-mouth recommendations. Each and every happy exchange student is an important multiplier.” However, the university also plans to pay more attention to those target groups who are not usually reached in this way: “In order to raise our international visibility and attractiveness as a place to study, we have plans to expand our range of German courses for international students, and to offer more courses with English as the language of instruction. For all new Master’s degree programmes I would like to see the share of courses taught in English rise to at least 30 percent.” After all, that too is an expression of a culture of hospitality.
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