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.

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Munich: Criticism after incident with radioactive C-14 – Munich

After a breakdown with the radioactive C-14, the Greens and the German federal government for nature conservation are calling for the Munich II research reactor to be shut down.

After an uncontrolled leak of radioactive C-14 at the research reactor in Munich II (FRM II), the Greens and environmentalists are calling for a halt to operation and further consequences. The new breakdown shows that the operators do not have the reactor under control, said Ludwig Hartmann, spokesman for the Greens parliamentary group. “This is unacceptable with a nuclear reactor,” he said. The SPD also calls for consequences: citizens should know how the incident came about, explains environmental expert Florian von Brunn.

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) explained that there was never any danger to people or the environment. It was a reportable event that ranked at level 0 according to the international rating scale, which means that it is of very low safety significance. The emissions took place from March 20 to 26 and April 2 to 7. The approved annual value for C-14 emissions was exceeded by 15 percent, said spokeswoman Andrea Voit.

The Greens and the SPD cannot be reassured by this. Hartmann claimed that the reactor should not be started again this year. “We now have to have a fundamental debate about the research reactor,” he told the dpa. The chairman of the federal nature conservation in Bavaria, Richard Mergner, expressed “very concern” and again called for closure. Already in 2012, radioactive C-14 had leaked in smaller quantities. “Consequences must follow because every leak of radioactive materials is one too many,” said von Brunn.

The incident occurred during maintenance work on cleaning the heavy water in the reactor pool. The nuclide is bound in ion exchange resins and then dried to reduce the volume. The separating unit, in which the C-14 should get stuck, was however not properly connected due to an “individual” operating error, said spokeswoman Voit. This allowed more radioactive C-14 to escape through the chimney than allowed. If a human had been on the research reactor site at the time, he would have been exposed to less than three microsieverts. There were five microsieverts during X-rays in the dental practice, explains Voit.

The incident was not noticed until two weeks after the derivation. The values ​​are routinely measured quarterly by the reactor and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. When the results were available, the drying process was stopped immediately. In the future, monthly measurements will be taken, said the spokeswoman.

Last year, the Greens and other opponents of the research reactor presented an opinion that the operation of the FRM II was illegal because it was still working with high-enriched uranium, but the permit stipulated that it would be converted to lower-enriched uranium. Claudia Köhler and Markus Büchler, members of the Green State Parliament from the Munich district, speak of “botching and sloppiness”. The incident confirms “our doubts about the reliability of the Technical University of Munich as the operator of the nuclear reactor”, Büchler wrote in a statement.

The research reactor has been idle since March 17th. The work was stopped because of the corona pandemic, because many foreign scientists who were doing their experiments at the reactor were no longer allowed to travel. When the institute resumes operations no longer depends solely on the virus. The nuclear regulatory authority, the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment, has to decide.

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Research reactor in Garching: criticism after Panne – Munich

After a breakdown with the radioactive C-14, the Greens and the German federal government for nature conservation are calling for the Munich II research reactor to be shut down.

After an uncontrolled leak of radioactive C-14 at the research reactor in Munich II (FRM II), the Greens and environmentalists are calling for a halt to operation and further consequences. The new breakdown shows that the operators do not have the reactor under control, said Ludwig Hartmann, spokesman for the Greens parliamentary group. “This is unacceptable with a nuclear reactor,” he said. The SPD also calls for consequences: citizens should know how the incident came about, explains environmental expert Florian von Brunn.

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) explained that there was never any danger to people or the environment. It was a reportable event that ranked at level 0 according to the international rating scale, which means that it is of very low safety significance. The emissions took place from March 20 to 26 and April 2 to 7. The approved annual value for C-14 emissions was exceeded by 15 percent, said spokeswoman Andrea Voit.

The Greens and the SPD cannot be reassured by this. Hartmann claimed that the reactor should not be started again this year. “We now have to have a fundamental debate about the research reactor,” he told the dpa. The chairman of the federal nature conservation in Bavaria, Richard Mergner, expressed “very concern” and again called for closure. Already in 2012, radioactive C-14 had leaked in smaller quantities. “Consequences must follow because every leak of radioactive materials is one too many,” said von Brunn.

The incident occurred during maintenance work on cleaning the heavy water in the reactor pool. The nuclide is bound in ion exchange resins and then dried to reduce the volume. The separating unit, in which the C-14 should get stuck, was however not properly connected due to an “individual” operating error, said spokeswoman Voit. This allowed more radioactive C-14 to escape through the chimney than allowed. If a human had been on the research reactor site at the time, he would have been exposed to less than three microsieverts. There were five microsieverts during X-rays in the dental practice, explains Voit.

The incident was not noticed until two weeks after the derivation. The values ​​are routinely measured quarterly by the reactor and the Federal Office for Radiation Protection. When the results were available, the drying process was stopped immediately. In the future, monthly measurements will be taken, said the spokeswoman.

Last year, the Greens and other opponents of the research reactor presented an opinion that the operation of the FRM II was illegal because it was still working with high-enriched uranium, but the permit stipulated that it would be converted to lower-enriched uranium. Claudia Köhler and Markus Büchler, members of the Green State Parliament from the Munich district, speak of “botching and sloppiness”. The incident confirms “our doubts about the reliability of the Technical University of Munich as the operator of the nuclear reactor”, Büchler wrote in a statement.

The research reactor has been idle since March 17th. The work was stopped because of the corona pandemic, because many foreign scientists who were doing their experiments at the reactor were no longer allowed to travel. When the institute resumes operations no longer depends solely on the virus. The nuclear regulatory authority, the Bavarian Ministry of the Environment, has to decide.

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Munich: New underground movement “Die Städtische” – Munich

Tram tracks, ventilation shafts, street lights. One cannot call the green strip between Stachus and Sendlinger Tor an eye-catcher. But flowers will bloom here in a few weeks, sunflowers in Sonnenstrasse. Sunflowers will also sprout in other places in Munich, next to bus stops, on street corners, on neglected green spaces. Planted secretly by actors from Munich’s new underground movement. They call themselves “the urban”. Behind it are about 30 young creative people from Munich. “A project of young people from different disciplines. From us for everyone” is on their website. They sowed the sunflowers on May 1st, the international “Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day”: Every year, guerrilla gardeners around the world plant sunflower seeds in public places on this day.

But this action is just the beginning. “Die Städtische” has set itself the task of showing the possibilities of Munich’s public space. Because despite the housing shortage, there is still a lot of unused potential here. A wide variety of projects are planned to take place in Munich’s public space over a week. Like so many things, the plans were initially thwarted by the corona crisis. But “the urban” continue to work on their project. It is a project that inspires and gives hope for the Munich summer outdoors: a play in the middle of a crossroads, short films projected onto house walls in Munich city center, the embellishment of a previously unused courtyard in Schwabing. “Nature is associated with quality of life,” says Simeon Wagener, 21, an environmental engineering student. “We want to bring more nature and thus more quality of life into the city with little effort.”

Armin Aschenbrenner, Marouane Mahmoudi and Anouar Mahmoudi, Louis Lafos, Felix Schröder (clockwise) discuss their actions in video conferences.

(Photo: private)

Casablanca, Morocco. Anouar Mahmoudi, 24, is sitting on the roof terrace of his family’s house in early May. His black curls blow in the wind and in the background you can hear the muezzin calling for prayer. Actually, his visit here should be a short one and a half months ago, a stopover on a research trip to study. Anouar is now using this compulsory break to concentrate on “the urban”. This interdisciplinary joint project initiated by him is to take place in the urban area of ​​his hometown Munich, “outside”. “Everyone is just a little hungry for the outdoors,” says Anouar, looking up at the Moroccan sky, “because of the whole situation, people appreciate the urban space much more.”

The planning of large projects, which should not only take place outdoors but also with some people, is of course risky in times of Corona. But also hopeful. “As soon as the situation permits, we will be ready,” says Anouar. And his zest for action can be felt even from a distance and through a pixelated video call.

Munich, in January. Anouar’s eighth and last semester is just around the corner, he is studying architecture at the TU Munich. He has always been fascinated by space and its unconventional possibilities. “Everything is a question of space”, “space defines action”, he often says sentences like this. Anouar’s motivation for this project is based on this fascination: “Munich’s public space and its opportunities should be used and valued more,” he says. Anouar decides to use the time in addition to his studies to implement various projects together with creative companions. Before his fellow students and friends spread around the world after completing their studies, he wants to create something great with them. “We don’t live long enough to do things alone,” says Anouar, “these dynamics that students can develop together for non-profit projects are unique.”

Anouar quickly excited about 30 people between 20 and 25 years for his ideas a few months ago. The young people from Munich come from a wide variety of fields: They study environmental engineering, psychology, architecture, landscape planning, teaching, film directing, health sciences, law, German and computer science.

“The Urban” have many different plans for the period after the corona crisis.

(Photo: Louis Lafos)

In March, the plans for the project become more concrete. Then the corona crisis comes to a head. And Anouar is stuck in Morocco. “First of all, the new situation naturally brought great disillusionment to everyone,” says Anouar. But they would never have thought of giving up. “It is of course a great challenge for all of us, but we learn new things every day,” says Louis Lafos, 21, a German studies student at LMU, who is involved in a total of three projects. “Die Städtische” communicate via weekly video calls, and after a while the opposite of all expectations turns up: “All of a sudden, despite – or perhaps because of – the Corona forced break, they were even more motivated than ever and the time at home, has increased creativity enormously, “says Anouar. The projects are now due to start in mid-August, but the dates are flexible. “Even if the situation doesn’t improve until December, we won’t start until then,” he says.

Already now, neon yellow, green or orange tear paper sticks to the walls of the university, to advertising pillars in front of Münchner Freiheit or to empty display cases. You are striking. So striking that you can’t help but stand still and take a closer look. On the slip of paper are printed poems or texts, written by colleagues in the group, “by authors who probably never really had the courage to go public with their texts before,” says Louis Lafos, who coordinates this accompanying project. Louis therefore sees “the urban” as an enriching platform, which, as he says, “all members use this campaign to give each other their creative work and which is also publicly accessible to everyone.” In keeping with the current situation, one of the neon sheets, written by Louis, says: “You only miss the greatest things when they’re no longer there. It inspires, animates, changes us and our perception of so many things.”

Projects with a political message are also planned: “Das Haus brennt” is the title of a planned art campaign on the ground floor of a Munich apartment. Armin Aschenbrenner, 24, architecture student, lives here. He wants to stick the phrase “The house is burning” on the windows and project a picture of another environmentally harmful fire on the world on each window.

A play is to be performed at an intersection.

(Photo: Anouar Mahmoudi)

An open-air party by the Bushbash collective including art installations is planned for the grand finale of the festival week. Where this rave will take place remains a secret until shortly before the event. As is the case with such underground raves, some of the “urban” actions are on the verge of legality. This is also the reason why the members are made unrecognizable on their action photos.

It is therefore important for Anouar to emphasize that all projects should be “minimally invasive” and not demonstrative protests. But ideas to use Munich’s public space creatively and in a new way, partly to stimulate thought, but also to celebrate. “Public space usually doesn’t just stand for being outside, but for being outside together,” says Anouar. With its colorful program, the crew wanted to revive Munich’s rooms and squares, which are currently forced to be empty. Be it with people or with plants. Simeon says: “Our motivation is to actively shape the cityscape of Munich. When I see a few sunflowers sprouting in Munich soon, it gives me the feeling that I have changed a little something for the better in the city.”

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Corona in Munich: Which protective masks help – Munich

Munich physicist Christian Kähler is investigating which masks protect against the corona virus. He explains when a simple mouthguard helps and why expensive FFP-2 masks can be dangerous in everyday life.

Christian Kähler holds a folded piece of cloth in his hands. It is checkered in light blue and white and looks pretty innocent. “This material is useless,” says Kähler and throws it aside. He is a physicist and heads the Institute of Fluid Mechanics and Aerodynamics at the Bundeswehr University. Since the corona virus broke out in Germany, he has been dealing with the subject of masks. More specifically, how effectively do they really protect people? With the simple fabric mask, as you would sew yourself out of a cotton fabric, for example, his verdict is unequivocal: it does nothing to protect against infection.

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How Corona changes the lives of Munich students – Munich

At the start of the semester, the dormitories fill up again, “social distancing” is hardly possible. What it is like to be in quarantine with 20 roommates or to have to study at home and have children under one roof.

On her first unit day, Clara Heupgen would have had a three-hour choir rehearsal. How this should work virtually is a mystery to her – still. Just like many other students wonder how it will go this semester, which starts on Monday and which can only take place online. The 23-year-old Clara Heupgen studies “Elementary Music Education” in the sixth semester with a major in singing at the music academy.

The current situation surrounding the pandemic worries her for one reason, however: Because all the events in which she would have worked were canceled, her family now has to pay for it. “It shouldn’t be that way,” says Clara Heupgen. After all, she was lucky enough to live with her mother under one roof; her fellow students had fared much worse.

As a representative of the student representative body, she accompanied a survey that was to shed light on the financial needs of her fellow students. “I sometimes received long emails with really bad stories, some of them can’t even pay for food.” The University Management has now set up emergency aid funds for these cases. The United Scholarship Foundation accepts donations for the students concerned.

Even without Corona, life in expensive Munich is a challenge for many of the more than 100,000 students. The low incomes and the high rental prices force many into small apartments or to live together in shared apartments and dormitories. Due to the tightness, “social distancing” is hardly possible, the risk of infection increases, even if the young students mostly do not belong to the risk group.

Having a relaxed beer or even partying after university is unpredictable, not even the cafeteria or the libraries are currently open. At the start of the semester, the dormitories are now filling up again. Those who had the opportunity had gone home during the semester break.

Others were deprived of the option, as in the case of Moritz Eckhoff. For him, the new semester begins with regained freedom: the master’s degree in electrical engineering at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) last had to spend in quarantine after being tested positive for the corona virus in March after a family vacation in the ski resort of Ischgl. All nine passengers got sick shortly after returning from Austria, almost all of them with a high fever. “At the time, however, none of us were tested for Corona because Ischgl was not considered a risk area at the time,” says Eckhoff. He only felt that a cold was on the way, his throat was scratching a bit, but otherwise he was fine.

Later the whole tour group was tested – positive. Moritz Eckhoff now knows what that meant: 14-day quarantine at home for himself and everyone living in the household. In Eckhoff’s case, there were a total of 20 roommates from his shared apartment in the student city. He informed the Studentenwerk, the employees then put a sign on one of the toilets with the note “defective”. Only Moritz Eckhoff should use the toilet and the risk of infection should be reduced.

The students continued to use the kitchen and shower together. The roommates affected were initially not informed by the Studentenwerk. Later there was an email that there was anonymous suspected corona in the house. Anyone who develops symptoms should contact a doctor. At the request of Süddeutsche Zeitung the Studentenwerk provides information that they are in contact with the residents and that they are aware that there are cases in shared apartments. This exchange gave the impression that the flat-sharing residents could organize themselves very well and responsibly.

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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

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