Virtual 'Semester Zero' Helps With Transition to University


RWTH launches beVinuS.NRW joint project in collaboration with TU Dortmund University and the University of Wuppertal.


The three North Rhine-Westphalian universities have now joined forces to develop a reference process for ensuring effective student transition from school to university with the help of online resources.  The joint project "Parallel Virtual Semester Zero at NRW Universities" will start in October 2022. The Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia approved to provide funding of 3.48 million euros for a three-year period.

The project aims to assist new students in refreshing and expanding their skills through digitally supported self-learning programs completed alongside their studies. What is lacking so far is a systematic framework for integrating bridge courses and refresher programs into existing degree programs. The need for such support programs arises from the diverse qualification pathways and varying skills level among first-year students. In order to succeed at university, students must have a firm grasp of the knowledge and skills taught at school. Universities are thus confronted with the additional task of closing any gaps in knowledge, so that each new student is prepared for university study.

The three universities will therefore work together to develop a reference process for running what has been termed a “parallel virtual semester zero”. In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, they are striving to develop a model for the provision of supplementary courses for first-year students to be completed alongside university study. The model should make it possible that participation in such supplementary courses can also be funded via the Federal Training Assistance Act. Furthermore, the online course offerings are to be integrated with existing offerings in the introductory phase of studies, including mentoring, small group training, and workshops. The new resources will not replace any formats already offered by experienced instructors.

The results of beVinuS.NRW project will be fully documented, ensuring that the newly developed model can be implemented by any university in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.