Smoothing the Path to Studies

01/09/2016

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Starting next year talent scouts from RWTH and FH Aachen will be on the lookout for talent adolescents at secondary schools and smooth the path to studies. The primary focus is on children from first-generation families, that is those without an academic background. Both of the Aachen universities participated in the statewide funding competition hosted by the Ministry of Innovation, Science, and Research of the State of NRW and received a grant together with six additional universities.

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"With the talent scounting we aim to create a low-threshold approach that is take early on in adolescents' educational history, namely during the transition from Sekundarstufe I to Sekundarstufe II," says Professor Aloys Krieg, vice-rector for teaching at RWTH Aachen. The universities offer adolescents diverse opportunities to examine their own interests and skills, particularly in the STEM field. This includes the first-year information day for school pupils in grade eight, presentations and advising days, one-week long sample university studies, and internships at institutes, workshops, and labs on part of RWTH Aachen. FH Aachen annually offers the University Information Day or HIT, the event series "Helle Köpfe" for children in gradeschool, and various other taster events. "But these diverse activities oriented towards pupils have not yet reached all suitable talents," emphasizes Krieg.

It is not only important that the talent scounting is well embedded into the existing measures at both universities. There must also be a close relationship with the project "A Good Academic Start to Engineering." This is a collaborative project between FH and RWTH Aachen. The collaboration is to be expanded through the talent scouts. "We don't want to fill seats at our own universities and conduct exclusive recruiting," says Professor Josef Rosenkranz, vice-rector of studies and teaching at FH Aachen. "It is more important that we find and promote individiuals with talent and demonstrate possible paths for suitable studies. This could be at RWTH or FH or another university."

During the coming months RWTH and FH Aachen will search for and hire future talent scounts. After a training, collaborative agreements will be made with Gymnasien and Gesamt- and Berufsschulen in the Aachen region. Then the talent scounts can begin their targeted search for individuals in grades ten to 13. The talent scounts will remain the contact person, ideally until someone begins their studies. "The goal of this funding is to improve and strengthen how we address talented students from disadvantaged circumstances," explains Vice-Rector Krieg. The talent scounts are responsible for establishing contact with the schools and teachers and to find their way through the jungle of the many existing funding offers. In order to prepare adolescents better for their start of studies, they are taken through many of the existing academic advising offers. Parents also receive individual advising about scholarships and BAföG funding.