Enjoy student life, study with success
You may have to put up for a long time after graduation with being the subject of stories that will be told at future family get-togethers or class reunions, or you may find yourself having to bite your tongue: The things that students experience during their studies outside of the classrooms or labs are some of the most humorous and exciting of all; it’s not a coincidence that some legends are woven around the proverbial student life. This is no different at Universities of Applied Sciences. The fact that students can get their degree faster and in a more organised way than at other universities doesn’t come at the expense of the more pleasurable side of life – on the contrary. “Studies are so well organised that you even have more free time because you don’t have to run around, chasing things up,” explains Till Saliari, who is studying in the master’s extra-occupational study programme “Energy Technology and Management” at the FH Vorarlberg University of Applied Sciences in Dornbirn.
Based on Anglo-American universities, the campuses of Austrian UASs offer the most essential things in close proximity that a student needs for life outside of the lecture hall: That includes cafeterias but also cafés and buffets; there are small grocery stores, bakeries, bookstores, but above all also rooms where students can meet and hold their own activities. “We have, for example, access to most of the rooms at the UAS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” says Saliari, “which makes working in groups or on projects or other things much easier.” Some of these “other things” on Austrian campuses include drama groups, bands, choirs or radio programmes, just to name a few. Essentially, there are no limits to the activities that can be started up: Anyone who has a good idea and can find other students who are interested and want to join in can usually find the right place for the activity on campus.
For sports activities, most of the rooms necessary for these are already available. From fitness studios to sports fields, swimming pools and basketball courts to climbing walls, there is almost nothing that the universities haven’t got. And the matching sports activities to go with them: “The sports programme offered on campus covers everything from A to Z – from aikido to Zumba,” praises Nicole Dvorak, student in the master’s study programme “Medical and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology” at the FHKrems. And at prices that are compatible with students’ budgets. “The courses are subsidised by the Austrian Student Union, so that makes them cheaper,” explains Dvorak, who has already done her bachelor’s at the FHKrems. Yet the location of the university itself already provides the best conditions for active leisure time: “Here in Vorarlberg, the outdoor possibilities for sledding or skiing are excellent here in the winter,” says Saliari. And in Krems, the students enjoy cycling or hiking in the vineyards in the summer “or we are out on the Danube,” says Dvorak.
For some of the study programmes, physical training is naturally already a part of the education, as Matthias Kern, student in the bachelor’s study programme “Military Leadership” at the Theresian Military Academy. “The day begins for us with sports from 7.30 to 9.00,” says the students. And some people work out or go for a run after classes before meeting up with other students for a beer. The cohesion among the students is particularly high at the Military Academy, emphasises Kern. “Here, the students become comrades but also good friends,” he reports. “You grow together already during the selection process and preparatory courses before studies begin.”
This close group feeling is also appreciated at other educational institutions in the country. And not just among students but also with the instructors. “We mostly have young tutors who we enjoy meeting with to have a beer, talk about new things, or even get feedback from,” explains Saliari, “and who are also open to criticism.” Dvorak also values not just being a number at the campus in Krems: “Our head of programme knows us by our first names – there are other universities where that is very different.”
Opening Parties and Graduation Balls
A great deal is done at UASs from the very start to facilitate students’ getting to know one another: “It starts with an Opening Party, which is always great for getting to know people”, confirms Dvorak. That continues until the end of studies, for example, with the students of the final year at the Theresian Military Academy organising a ball in Wiener Neustadt, as Kern reports. But there is also never a dull moment in the semesters in between: “There are always lots of possibilities to do stuff with the exchange students here, for example,” explains Saliari; Dvorak, who was president of the Erasmus Student Network for a year, reflects on the many events and movie nights as well as the games together that were organised for the Austrian and foreign students. But the students share the opinion that it is not a disadvantage, as far as student life is concerned, to be studying at a smaller university: “Vorarlberg is often described as a surprise egg because it offers much more than you would think at first,” laughs Saliari. Dvorak sees the rather familiar environment in Krems as a real advantage: “When I walk through the old city, I run into at least two people who I haven’t seen in a long time. Besides, in Krems there are discos with cool DJs or wine taverns with vaulted ceilings in the basement which we use for party locations once or twice a year. And it’s only a stone’s throw from the Wachau or the Danube.” And the same applies for all locations of study programmes, whatever the size of the city. Saliari summarises: “Most student parties are organised privately anyway – there are always good possibilities in Dornbirn.”