Munich: Discussion on higher education law at TU and LMU – Munich

Information often trickles into the home office slowly. Even if it is as important as the upcoming reform of the Bavarian Higher Education Act. Not all professors and lecturers at the two Munich universities of excellence seem to be aware of the status of developments. You and the administrative staff have been busy for weeks preparing for the winter semester including online teaching. Lectures at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) and the Technical University (TU) begin in November.

Meanwhile, they were not inactive elsewhere: on Wednesday last week there was an expert hearing in the Bavarian state parliament on the planned reform of university law. According to inquiries from various faculties, one hears about it only from the media. This may also be due to the fact that the hygiene rules at universities barely allow an exchange about it, for example at a coffee machine. Those who can avoid contact. Key issues papers are not passed on either.

Such a paper on reform was mentioned again and again at the hearing. Even of the invited experts, only a few knew its content. It can now be found on the website of the Ministry of Science. It is 21 pages long and very detailed. The new law should be a “signal for a new departure” with the “model of the greatest possible freedom”, can be read there, for example, often also the word “personal responsibility” for example with regard to self-determination and development. To finance this, the universities should be given a “comprehensive fee collection option”, for example for non-EU foreigners, and thus an incentive to “fundraise” and start up companies.

I thought it was at most a three-page paper, admits a research associate at LMU who does not want to admit his statements by name. He is rather critical of President Bernd Huber. “I think they want the big hit,” he says. That means, among other things, much more power for the university management, which restricted the increased say in the various bodies. “I find benevolent contradiction important – from the professor to the student.”

“I don’t think everyone is aware of what’s coming,” says Margit Weber, canon lawyer and LMU women’s representative for 14 years. In this role, Weber sat as an expert at the hearing in the state parliament. A week later, she is dismayed that the paper only “insufficiently addresses” equality. It must be felt in all areas, she says, not just an appeal is enough. “In Bavaria we have had around 50 percent female students for 30 years, and at LMU even 60 percent.” Overall, there are only 20 percent women professors, one president and only a few vice-presidents. She has long advocated equal appointments in praesidia. Equality must be clearly specified in the new higher education law as an overriding task and as a guiding principle, because that’s the only way something can move, she says. “That would make Munich and Bavaria much more attractive.” For companies, success has long depended on whether they have mixed teams. “How do we want to attract top women from all over the world?”

A professor from her house, whose name should also not appear here, fears a further dismantling of “collegial leadership” at the universities. He also thinks of company structures. “University presidents are made as powerful today as they were at VW under Martin Winterkorn, which led to the emissions scandal at the time.” Today, however, power is more likely to be shared in successful companies. He feels growing frustration among his colleagues because changes have always been in the same direction so far.

No scientist today can have a sufficient overview of research in his field alone. The best are therefore the humble ones who rely on the opinion of their colleagues. Unfortunately, the office of the president all too often attracts people who have a thirst for recognition and are not among the best scientists. In more than 20 years as a professor, he himself was never asked by the management or administration of the university or the ministry about what could improve his research and teaching.

It is unclear whether LMU President Bernd Huber was asked for advice. Among other things, he says that the LMU is very open to university reform in Bavaria and is very interested in being constructively involved in the process. Important guiding principles are more autonomy, more dynamism and more differentiation so that the different universities can develop their full potential. There are of course still many unanswered questions to be discussed in the concrete form of the reform.

Thomas Hofmann, who has been President of the Technical University of Munich for a year, would be happy to contribute his expertise, he says in a telephone conversation. But he has not yet been asked. Even his predecessor Wolfgang Herrmann, who gave verbose answers at the state parliament hearing, had no creative role in the context, says Hofmann. One of the things that is important to him is to speed up the appointment process. Today’s practice, which often takes a year, is completely inefficient, he says. His focus is on lifelong learning, which also includes adult students, and the support of spin-offs, as the TU is already doing.

Regarding the concern of Verdi regional department head Christiane Glas-Kinateder that fixed-term employment contracts would increase due to the conversion of the universities into corporations, as the key issues paper provides, Hofmann replies: “It takes brain circulation.” But you have to be careful that there are not too many temporary relationships. Overall, Hofmann is calling for the universities to have significantly more room for maneuver.

“The perspective of the university management is not necessarily the perspective of all university members,” says Maximilian Frank, TU student and active spokesman for the Bavarian State ASten Conference. It should not be decided only from above. A legal framework must be given to greater personal responsibility. We see ourselves as a corrective, he says. In principle, committees are not a design obstacle.


School start in Corona times: Tips for children – Munich

Gerd Schulte-Körne, Head of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at LMU, about children’s fears in the Corona crisis and how you can consciously improve your mood.

Interview by

Ekaterina Kel

Gerd Schulte-Körne believes that an important voice is missing in the debate about the correct Corona measures: that of the young generation. He heads the Clinic for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) and observes that children and adolescents are particularly hard hit by the school closings and contact bans. After the holidays, most of the lessons start with a mask requirement. On the “Corona and You” portal, he gives concrete tips on how to actively improve their everyday life and mood to get started with everyday school life.


Munich: New geriatric day clinic opened – Munich

A day clinic has opened in Munich to help seniors live independently in old age. About the needs of people over 70 and what helps them to stay fit.

Tall windows let plenty of daylight into the rooms. Long curtains in orange and purple tones add a fresh color that makes you forget that you are in one of the oldest hospitals in Munich. Ergometers are lined up in one of the modern but functionally equipped therapy rooms of the building opened in 1813. You can kick your legs while lying or sitting on them. Brand new tractors were also installed. Colorful balls are waiting to be moved. There are also smaller diagnostic rooms to clarify deficits and needs in dialogue with a doctor or therapist. You can even test your responsiveness as a driver on a computer with connected pedals.


Corona virus: Bavaria’s university hospitals are converting – Bavaria

Until Monday, the statistics looked hopeful at the Ludwig Maximilians University (LMU) clinic in Munich. Until then, 36 patients who had contracted the coronavirus had been treated in an intensive care unit. Seven of them were outside again, none died. The clinic presented these figures on Thursday. What was no longer included in these statistics: Eight new patients have been added since Monday – and two died. Two out of 653 in Bavaria.

Such Covid 19 statistics are now kept in all Bavarian hospitals. It is special, however, that this has also become important in university clinics such as the one in Munich’s Großhadern district. Because in the health system they are actually primarily intended for the treatment of particularly rare or serious diseases and for medical research – as the “spearhead” of the system, as Science Minister Bernd Sibler (CSU) calls it; The normal supply of the population is a matter for the mostly municipal hospitals.

In Bavaria that was true until three weeks ago. Then, at the behest of the Free State, the six Bavarian university clinics had to turn around: let research stay and switch to care in order to create capacity for many more Covid-19 patients.

In Großhadern, for example, this means that there are normally almost 200 intensive care beds there. 44 has been keeping the LMU hospital free for coronavirus cases since the beginning of March. Now it has set up additional intensive care units, converted the recovery room of the outpatient surgery center into one, for example, and trained nurses and doctors. There are now almost 100 intensive care beds there, 26 more are coming, 24 more are in reserve. The situation is similar at the other university clinics in the Free State, with the number of intensive care beds increasing from 600 to a total of 1000. According to the ministry, another 200 could be added.

When a man tested positive for the corona virus in Germany for the first time at the end of January, the municipal hospital in Munich-Schwabing became a quasi-monopolist for Covid-19 treatment for a few weeks. That almost all of the first patients ended up there is because the clinic in the Bavarian hospital plan is the first point of contact for highly infectious diseases. And since many experts feared that many more patients would soon be coming, it was soon heard from Schwabing that one could not take care of this on a permanent basis. In the beginning, this appeal was aimed primarily at the doctors and other hospitals in the Free State not to send all patients to the north of Munich. Four weeks ago, the Mayor of Munich, Dieter Reiter (SPD), demanded that the university clinics also make their contribution.

That was done there and in the responsible ministry of science as Reiters’ attempt at profiling shortly before the local elections, but it still caused some trouble – especially since there were already Covid 19 patients in some houses at that time. For example, an American was admitted to Großhadern on March 4. He came from South Tyrol on a skiing holiday and wanted to fly back from Munich when the new pathogen was detected. In the meantime, the university clinics have not only become part of medical care in Bavaria, they also offer help to municipal hospitals that are heavily polluted in some places. “We still have capacities,” says Bernhard Zwißler, the head of the intensive care unit in Großhadern, “we can be transferred to patients.”

“We still have capacities”: Bernhard Zwißler, the head of the intensive care unit at the LMU clinic in Munich-Großhadern, and his medical director Karl-Walter Jauch (left).

(Photo: Alessandra Schellnegger)

The LMU Clinic has the highest capacity among the Bavarian university clinics. 83 coronavirus patients were there on Thursday morning, a good third of them have to be ventilated in one of the four intensive care units, according to the LMU. Being transferred to one of these “does not amount to a death sentence,” says Zwißler, referring to the low death toll – even if some patients feared it. At the same time, doctors are concerned that some patients with other diseases no longer have the courage to go to a clinic, although it would be necessary – for fear of catching the coronavirus there. A mouth protection obligation applies in the houses, says Karl-Walter Jauch, Medical Director of the LMU Clinic and spokesman for all Bavarian university clinics; the Covid 19 patients would be treated in their own wards. “The risk of infection is minimal.”

Since the number of new cases has increased less and less recently, he currently sees patient care at a “turning point”. You have “the acute situation under control” and must now prepare for a long-lasting pandemic. Four weeks ago, an infected person infected an average of half a dozen other people; in the meantime, this value in Bavaria is only one person, in Munich even less than one. “This does not mean that everything is over,” says Jauch, but it is unlikely that there will be a “big wave”. If this remains so, the researching physicians at the university clinics can also hope that they will be able to resume at least part of their now interrupted studies or laboratory work. However, Jauch does not believe that everything will be back as soon as before: “This pandemic will occupy us for the next months, the next two or three years.”

Corona crisis and family: How are you doing?:Readers’ discussion