Hülsmann likes to describe the university as a community without borders – not just because of its international nature, but also since there no rigid borders drawn between departments here. There are three broadly defined and interlinked subject areas – Mobility, Health and Diversity. Computer science, for example, comes under the area of Mobility, since it encompasses the movement of people, goods and information. Another unique feature is that successful applicants are effectively admitted to the institution as a whole, rather than being limited to a particular department or a specific subject area. Students gradually narrow their focus to a subject to specialise in, but for the first couple of weeks they can opt for a different subject area altogether, and they have until the end of the second semester to determine a specific focus within their chosen field.
One student’s mother flew over from Nepal to thank the professors in person
Subject-specific classes and lectures only make up two-thirds of the study programme, however – the remaining third is devoted to cross-disciplinary learning. “Regardless of where our students end up working later in life, we work on the premise that there are three things that are absolutely necessary: knowledge of IT, a business mindset and interpersonal skills,” says Hülsmann. “Therefore, everyone at our institution learns the basics of programming and accounting, while our ethics courses raise the students’ awareness of social issues.”
Many of the students come from developing nations, and the scholarship programme opens up career prospects for them that would have otherwise remained closed. Hülsmann and his colleagues have witnessed extraordinary changes in some of their students, and receive plenty of gratitude for what they do as well: “One young student who came here with just a T-shirt, a pair of shorts and sandals ended up being our first graduate in logistics,” he recalls. “I’ll always remember a mother from Nepal who had scraped together all her savings so that she could fly out to visit her daughter in Bremen and personally thank all her professors. When you experience things like this, you don’t doubt that you’re doing the right job in the right place.”
More information on Jacobs University: www.jacobs-university.de