HTW is one of the most important universities in Engineering in Germany. We talk to Kalinka Frielingsdorf, Program Manager of the Master of Business Administration and Engineering at HTW Berlin. The arrival of Tesla in Berlin-Brandenburg is a big challenge for the university and the whole area.
Are there any agreements with Tesla?
There is currently no cooperation with TESLA. The Giga Factory is still under construction, the start of production is planned for the summer. We follow the development of the industry and the company to inform our students and graduates about the officially advertised positions on the TESLA job portal. The company will need many well-trained specialists and, above all, engineers in the next few years and will be an important employer for Berlin and Brandenburg. The opening of the production facility is definitely a locational advantage for students at HTW Berlin.
Where are your foreign students mainly come from?
The HTW Berlin has over 3000 international students from over 25 nations. The MBA&E program welcomed people from 10 different nations in 2020, primarily from South Asia and Latin America.
Do they normally stay in Germany?
Yes, many of them would like to gain work experience in Germany after completing their studies. However, since the MBA&E program is very international and focuses on intercultural competence, many graduates apply for interesting job positions all over the world.
Do you help them to find a job and visa?
International graduates in Germany have the opportunity to apply for a job search visa after their studies in order to find a position suitable for their qualifications within 18 months. After that, they are entitled to a work visa. As a career service, the HTW supports graduates in exploring their skills, strengths and talents. They accompany their professional and personal goal-setting and decision-making processes. Furthermore, they create contact opportunities with companies and support the graduates in making optimal use of the variety of career and network events that exist in Berlin.
How many of the students, in general, are women?
The university has 14 thousand students and 39,5% of them are women. In the MBA&E program we currently have 20% women.
How do you foster women in your studies?
Gender diversity and women empowerment is an important topic for the HTW. For this reason, there are a wide variety of offers to foster women. There are special training and workshops for female students, courses on understanding gender diversity for all students and employees, a mentoring program for female computer science students, and a women's study program. We also have a family office, childcare, and a women's representative, who supports and advises female students with all matters regarding their studies. Since 2020 the MBA&E awards a Diversity Enhancement Grant. This grant, which is given as a tuition fee reduction of up to 50%, aims at enabling women from underrepresented regions and demographic groups to study in the MBA&E.
Do students at HTW also learn languages?
Communication in life is key! The HTW Berlin is one of the few universities in Germany that has its own foreign language institute. It offers language courses in eight languages. In addition to the study program-related courses, intensive courses are offered in the non-teaching period. The MBA&E program offers German language courses to all students during their studies.
How was 2020 for the university and at what stage are you right now?
2020 was a challenging year for everyone involved. Students, professors, and employees had to be very flexible and adapt to the new conditions. It wasn't always easy, but we all also learned from this situation. The university and employers must acknowledge that the students are exposed to very difficult learning conditions during this time. We miss personal contacts on campus and in lectures, face-to-face project work, and student events. A lot of important experience is lost, especially for the first semester and international students. The financial situation is also difficult for many students. Many have lost their part-time jobs. The upcoming summer semester starts again in an online mode and it may be possible to switch to a hybrid mode during the semester. Of course, that depends on the development of the pandemic. We hope that we will be back on campus by October this year.
Are foreign students coming back?
Many international students still remain in their home countries, as teaching takes place exclusively online. They want to be with their families and of course, they also save money if they don't have to rent an apartment in Berlin during this time. Still, most of them would prefer to be in Berlin and on campus. Since entry and flight connections are restricted due to the pandemic, only a few international students have come back to Berlin so far. But this will definitely change in April.
What is your forecast for 2021?
We expect fewer applications this year. Many people are insecure and the pandemic has put them in difficult financial situations. Nevertheless, new applications arrive every day and we are sure that we can put together a nice and highly qualified group until October. The application deadline is May 15th.
Our mission is to bring together the best candidates in different countries with the best companies, by using the video format as the best presentation tool. By unifying the European job market and by relying on a broad network of contacts. We believe that success can only come from working together.