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HdM: Mr Jansen, the Print Media Technologies degree programme started in March 2018 - how do you look back on the last few years?
Volker Jansen: The conversion of the german degree programme Druck- und Medientechnologie to the international Print Media Technologies degree programme, whose content is taught exclusively in English, has paid off for the HdM. Two and a half years ago, when we admitted the first students, we still had few first-year students who dared to enrol in a degree programme that was not yet established. We advertised the programme on international websites, set up a new website and communicated the programme through DAAD channels. Today, almost three years later, at the start of the semester in October 2020, we were oversubscribed for the first time. We have 25 study places to which there are now 39 students. Some of the enrolled students were able to start their studies in Germany in October 2020 already in presence, but some still had to stay in their respective home countries due to the corona-related travel restrictions. Since almost all lectures can be held in attendance due to the university's well thought-out hygiene concept, the degree programme offers a very specific teaching programme for international students who had to remain temporarily in their home countries. With great technical effort, all teaching units are streamed via YouTube across 14 time zones. Written content, such as lecture recordings, is available to students on the e-learning platform Moodle. During the semester, more international students have already arrived and can now continue their studies in presence. The students still abroad may of course continue to listen to the lectures online, in the expectation that the necessary visa will be issued by the German embassy of the respective country.
Back to your question: Establishing the international programme was very exciting. We had to align the entire lectures to new topics. So we expanded the topics of digital printing, packaging printing, 3-D printing and functional printing and invested in new technical facilities. We have solved the intercultural requirements with new didactic concepts and have developed completely new study examination regulations that take into account the individual cultural and educational backgrounds of the applicants. This means that in the first two semesters we have to make sure that the different individual prerequisites are standardised so that then, in the main study period, we can start with the specific content that the students have to learn. We currently have a never-ending stream of good and interesting applicants from all over the world. Our students are very heterogeneous. The individual prerequisites they bring with them vary. Some students have parental businesses in their home countries, others have completed training or already have a university degree.
HdM: Were there any particular highlights that stuck out in your memory?
Volker Jansen: Every semester is a highlight, and that's not just because of the international students, but rather because of the interesting and groundbreaking projects that take place in cooperation with industry. The focus is on new technical developments that contribute to acquiring and developing new subject areas in research and teaching. Above all, we are very happy that industry has positively assessed the study programme concept and supported us with loans and cooperations in the last two years. It is no longer the case that only German machine or equipment manufacturers support us, but now also companies from other European countries and the USA make machine and equipment loans possible and award research contracts. Another aspect that has inspired the project work in the last two years is the different approaches to technical problems and the manifold perspectives on possible solutions that internationality has brought with it.
HdM: Besides the internationality and the cooperation with industry, what do you particularly appreciate about the degree programme?
Volker Jansen: Changing the language of instruction from German to English has not only brought us more applicants, but also better compatibility with Anglo-Saxon partner universities. The exchange is easier, and students from our partner universities have fewer reservations about opting for a semester in Germany because of the language of instruction. In addition, our students have the opportunity to study at an Anglo-Saxon university during the mobility window in the sixth semester. We even offer overlapping final theses, with an examiner at the HdM and an examiner at one of our partner universities.
As Europeans, we have to orient ourselves to the standards of British universities: In website presence, in communication, in the way we do things, in student support, etc. This approach is supported by the university's International Office. A colleague who used to work at Oxford Brooks University communicates with our applicants. She knows the questions, knows which answers are relevant and is used to communicating with people from different cultural backgrounds. Above all, it is important for us to be able to compete with our offer on the international education market. We have to follow the practices that are common at Anglo-Saxon universities. It may come as a surprise, but one positive aspect is the tuition fees that the state of Baden-Württemberg charges for students from NON-EU countries, because NON-EU applicants are expected to pay tuition fees.
HdM: What hands-on experience do students on the course gain?
Volker Jansen: The Print Media Technologies degree programme includes a complex practical laboratory programme. There we specialise in new technologies and convert different printing techniques and the finishing technologies for commercial print applications to digital printing. IT-relevant content plays an important role here, for example to integrate teaching content that deals with automated workflow solutions in the area of variable data printing and the IoT (Internet of Things). In packaging printing, we focus on the flexographic printing process with its spectrum of prepress solutions and finishing technologies, and the proximity to the DFTA, which is based at the HdM, helps us in this. We have also put new technologies in gravure printing at the centre of packaging printing, such as imaging plastic-coated gravure cylinders, a new technology to replace chrome-coated cylinders. Here, in addition to teaching, industry is showing great interest in awarding research and development contracts to the university. But industrial applications have also moved further into the foreground, including additive manufacturing processes (3D printing) and printed electronics.
The new orientation is very well received among students and there is a great deal of interest in these topics, which are so important for industry. Our technology centre at the HdM includes a so-called "Production Space", which offers an ideal prerequisite for students to gain practical experience during their studies. Practical tasks are also incorporated into courses. These include measurement technology, printing technology and print finishing. In a broader sense, practical work includes programming and the area of "pre-media", i.e. from photography to post production of images to raster image processors. In the study area of additive manufacturing processes, students learn to work with CAD programmes in practical tasks and to create three-dimensional bodies with different 3-D printing technologies. These are just a few of the things that make the Print Media Technologies degree programme stand out from other programmes.
HdM: What should prospective students bring with them when they apply?
Volker Jansen: Interest in the subject must be a priority. Applicants should be enthusiastic and communicative and love to work and learn with people of different nationalities. The letter of motivation, the test result from the language test and the level of education are included in the aptitude assessment. We teach exclusively in English. This means that, in accordance with the international standard, students must have an English language level of GER B2 as a prerequisite for admission. Of course, this requirement represents a certain hurdle, but it has a positive effect on studyability. Some of the students we admitted in October already have a completed Bachelor's degree and have deliberately chosen Print Media Technologies.
HdM: Which countries do the students come from?
Volker Jansen: From all continents of the world: from Mexico to Canada, from Europe to Kenya, from Russia to India and from China to Australia. A colourful mix from all over the world. 36 nations are represented.
HdM: What motivates them to study at the HdM?
Volker Jansen: All of our students are looking for sustainable education and have chosen a technical degree programme with practical components because of the need to secure their future. Very many degree programmes are theoretical, which can have a counterproductive effect on sustainable learning in engineering degree programmes. The engineer of the 21st century must be able to implement something technically and not just calculate it. And this is where we see the great advantage of the Print Media Technologies degree programme at the Hochschule der Medien, we combine theory with practice.
HdM: What are the experiences of the students who have already been in the practical semester?
Volker Jansen: The feedback from the practical semester is very good, all students have completed their practical semester in large, well-known companies - and this during the Corona crisis, we are very proud of our students and are pleased about the openness of our industry partners. Industry has a proven interest in our students because they speak good English and another language, are polyglot and are studying an engineering degree programme.
HdM: What are the prospects for graduates after graduation, where do they go?
Volker Jansen: That always depends on what interests and intentions our graduates have. Some are interested in technical companies, such as machine manufacturers or media companies, to work there in technology or sales. Some prefer branded companies or large industrial groups, such as Bosch. Others work in publishing houses or consulting firms, and some graduates go back to their parents' business to run the printing or packaging company. There are many opportunities for our graduates to become successful.
HdM: What do you wish for the degree programme in the future?
Volker Jansen: I hope that the degree programme will enrich the HdM and make it more colourful, and I wish that we can continue to develop and grow the degree programme with the help of our students and our industry partners. Therefore, I would be grateful if the degree programme could gain even more popularity, because the change required great courage and would not have been possible without the support of the Rectorate. We have increasing student numbers and we are all very, very happy about that.
The Print Media Technologies degree programme only admits students for the winter semester. The next start of studies is possible in the winter semester 2021/2022. All information on application and admission can be found on the programme's website.
12. Februar 2021
Prof. Dr. Dipl.-Ing. Volker Jansen
Print Media Technologies
Print Media Technologies
Studiengang Print Media Technologies:"Es läuft sehr gut und darüber sind wir glücklich."
Ehrung :DAAD-Preis für Laura Cirstea
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