Campus - 28.02.2022 - 00:00 

New semester – everything the same?

The spring semester began on 21 February 2022. How have students experienced the return to campus? By student reporter Adria Pop.

28 February 2022. With the message sent to students on 17. February 2022, the University of St.Gallen largely lifted the pandemic measures. After two years of pandemic, students start the spring semester in full attendance without masks and certificates. HSG President Professor Bernhard Ehrenzeller is pleased about the "resurgence" of activities on campus.

Cheerfulness among the students

Students, such as Sophie Balles and Sofja Kononova from the assessment, began their studies with the possibility of face-to-face teaching, but are happy about the removal of the mask requirement. In retrospect, the period of "distance learning" nevertheless had its advantages for both students. For example, the pandemic favoured Sophie's educational path: "I was able to concentrate on my studies and had no distractions, but on a social level it was stressful. The atmosphere on campus, however, has changed for the better for Sophie due to her return to full presence without a mask: "It's nice to see everyone smiling again."

Ajith Muthurajah and Giriesan Kirupanantha completed their Bachelor's degree at the University of Zurich and began their Master's studies in St.Gallen with online lectures. "We wanted to experience the live spirit of HSG, which was a pity," says Ajith. He explains that he worked more in his first semester so that he could enjoy the experience of studying at the University of St.Gallen for longer. Giriesan, on the other hand, appreciates being able to complete the fourth semester of his Master's degree in the familiar setting after one and a half years of online study. Concerns remain about the lifting of the mask requirement, but according to both, it would have been time for the measures to be relaxed.

Changing working conditions on campus

Even if many have learned to appreciate the location-independent work, the personal contact on site remains decisive for the satisfaction of students and teachers.

University catering staff member Alisa Malasai also supports the rectorate's decision to lift the mask requirement. "When I was stressed, the mask made me struggle to breathe," Ms Malasai explains. The increase in campus activity was also noticeable in her job: "You have to do things again and that's nice too."

The daily work routine in the university library also changed for employee Franca Zanolari: "When the library remained closed at the beginning, users were increasingly oriented towards our digital resources." Part of her work therefore consisted of sending out books. The return of media prevented by illness required flexibility on the one hand, and the need for digitisation required the adaptation of the library's own website on the other. "There is not necessarily more to do in the library, but different things," says Zanolari.

Gains through digitalisation

According to Dr Elgar Fleisch, Professor of Information and Operations Management, physical teaching is part of his life's purpose. Regardless of the pandemic, however, he sees the benefits of new forms of teaching that have come into use in the last two years: "There are areas where digital teaching has advantages. We designed our lecture accordingly back in 2016 because we believe that students learn more that way." In Fleisch's opinion, physical contact will lose frequency through the acquired digitalisation, but not in importance for education.

Adria Pop is studying business administration in her fourth semester.

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