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17.05.2021

Dear Incoming Students

Mark Hallerberg smiling in front of a plain gray background with three blue bars on the left side.

Read a letter from Hertie School's Acting President Mark Hallerberg on our plans for teaching in the fall semester.

Dear Incoming Students,

We are excited to welcome you into the Hertie School community, and to accompany you through what will be one of the most formative and intellectually stimulating phases of your career. You are embarking on your graduate school journey in a time that is marked by one of the biggest challenges of our time: the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

It is hard to overstate the effect the pandemic has had on our daily lives. Social distancing has become second nature to us all. In-person interactions with our families, friends and colleagues have drastically decreased. Each of us has struggled to adapt. Despite this global uncertainty, you decided to apply to the Hertie School, were admitted, and are about to start your studies this fall. This is no small feat, and I would like to extend my congratulations to you.

As your first semester at the Hertie School draws closer, you may naturally have a lot of questions: How will the COVID-19 pandemic affect my studies? Will it be safe to travel to Germany? When and how will I be able to get vaccinated? Will I be able to go on an academic exchange or complete a dual degree? How can I navigate changing immigration and entry requirements?

At the Hertie School, we are all fully committed to providing the very best student experience for our incoming as well as our continuing students, taking into consideration the restrictions (health, travel, or otherwise) that some in our community may face. Going forward, this means that we are preparing for a hybrid fall semester. We will offer as much onsite teaching as possible, and as much online teaching as necessary. Your health and safety as well as your study experience is of utmost importance to us, and we are confident in providing you with a great learning experience.

In order to deliver a safe but inspiring fall semester, the School leadership is developing a comprehensive plan that includes some smaller classes, continued social distancing, a hygiene concept for the campus and classrooms, the purchase of medical masks, regular COVID-19 tests, and a vaccination strategy for the entire Hertie School community. We are working together very closely with other Berlin universities and the public health authorities to develop the best possible approach.

For those who will be unable to join us in person at the beginning of the fall semester and those who currently feel safer in an online learning environment, we will prepare hybrid and online courses that draw on more than a year of experience in online education. Ever since we made the switch to online teaching in spring 2020, our faculty and our Digital Learning Team have worked hand in hand to improve our online classes and to introduce new interactive formats. These efforts have paid off: in fact, our course evaluations last semester saw our core courses achieve an overall record student satisfaction rating. But it is not only our online classes that have been a success. Student clubs and projects have also made the shift online and are, in some cases, even more active than before. They provide an important point of contact for students outside of our virtual learning spaces.

More than half of this year’s incoming class comes from outside of Germany, meaning that many of you will have to navigate travel restrictions and changing immigration requirements in the coming months. Please rest assured that we will do our best to support you wherever possible. Although the situation is constantly evolving, our Student Life and Recruitment & Admissions teams will strive to assist you with any questions related to the visa process, moving to Berlin, vaccinations, and other administrative processes. You can also consult the COVID-19 FAQs on our website.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a shock to the global system. Nevertheless, against the backdrop of our experience in the last year, I am confident that we can respond to whatever challenges lie ahead. Since the pandemic began, our community has continually impressed me with its adaptability, its resilience, and its warmth. Whether you will be joining us this fall online, or – as we all hope – in person, you are already a valued member of our community, and I look forward to welcoming you formally at the Opening of the Academic Year.

With warm regards,

Mark Hallerberg's signature.

About the author

  • Mark Hallerberg , Acting President and Professor of Public Management and Political Economy

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