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Searching for the University of Bremen’s DNA

How do former students rate the University of Bremen? A survey by the alumni network.

University & Society

Every university has its own spirit. This includes the University of Bremen, which will turn 50 this year. What exactly makes its DNA stand out? That is what the University of Bremen alumni network, which is comprised of former students and staff, wanted to find out. In the frame of a detailed survey, members were asked what characterizes the university for them and what holds them together. One finding: The level of satisfaction with regards to studying at the University of Bremen is high.

In comparison to the University of Bremen, no other German university has managed to create such a clear public profile within the first two decades of its existence: a commie training center. It was a negative label that scared people off - one that was to be found in every newspaper article. Today, 50 years after its founding in October 1971, it is time to take stock for the first time. That is what we alumni, the former members who studied or worked at the university, did. By the way, the alumni are organized within a network - something that was hard to imagine at the beginning. With its 4,000 members, the network is one of the larger ones in Bremen State. In the frame of a detailed survey, the alumni asked 8,000 former members about the university’s DNA, thus what makes the university what it is and what connects the students. 425 people answered - which was good. It was not a representative survey. Yet, as the involved social scientists confirmed, it was good enough to make valid statements regarding what people think about their university, to which they still feel a connection.

Degree Contents, Teaching, and Supervision Score Well

© Alumni der Universität Bremen e.V.

The results are clear and surprising to some: The level of satisfaction with regards to studying at the University of Bremen is high. Nearly two thirds were “more or less satisfied,” around 20 percent were even “very satisfied.” The university scored particularly well when it came to degree contents, teaching, and supervision by teaching staff. It is worthwhile taking a closer look at the gathered data. Around 50 percent of the survey participants come from the year groups 1991 - 2010. The average age is 48.

It was possible to choose more than one answer when answering the question on why they chose to study here. The proximity to their place of residence was the top answer for around 22 percent. For around 20 percent and in close second place, the concept of their desired degree course at the University of Bremen was the most significant factor. The survey participants’ initial positive impressions were strengthened during the course of their degrees.

© Alumni der Universität Bremen e.V.

Upon asking the question what they particularly like about their studies (once again with the option to give more than one answer), around 30 percent of the alumni chose the subject contents. The second choice was the good supervision by teaching staff with around 20 percent and directly behind this in the third spot was the quality of teaching. Former members also rated the campus atmosphere well (17 percent) and the State and University Library Bremen (14 percent). On this topic, the clear last spot was given to the facilities and equipment at the university, which was only viewed as positive by 4 percent. What is also noteworthy is that current students generally assess their studies in the same way, even if this group was quite small in the survey. In fact, the quality of teaching is rated even better by them with 21 percent.

Bremen: A Great Place to Study

The answers where participants were able to prioritize five answers from the available twenty were particularly valuable. The assessment of the university as “an institution where one can study well” took a top spot with 56 percent. This was closely followed by the description “liberal-minded” with 55 percent. These opinions corresponded with the judgment of the university’s location. “Bremen is a city where one can study well” is what 73 percent of the survey participants chose from the 15 choices. With 61 percent, the following took the second spot: “Bremen is a liberal-minded city.”

50 years ago, the university dared to go a different way: As a reform university with flat hierarchies, with researchers who are aware of their responsibility towards society. This atmosphere and spirit of being open-minded is something that the university has maintained whilst changing and continually making its mark. Today, the university - as a climate university - is on the highest international level in the field of climate research.

More about Alumni der Universität Bremen e.V.:

Alumni der Universität Bremen e.V.

The alumni network is the voice of former students and staff. The network was founded 15 years ago and now boasts around 4,000 internationally connected members. The network supports university projects, research, and culture with roughly 50,000 euros from member contributions and donations annually. It promotes the scientific location of Bremen and the University of Bremen’s social-political responsibility.

For more than 30 years, Christoph Sodemann has been active as a journalist and in the field of PR, for example for Radio Bremen, center.tv Bremen, with his own TV production company, and as the head of the PR department at BORDA, a large development policy organization in Bremen. He is the voluntary director of the NGO constructify.media.

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