The Rector’s Column | Salzburg: a student city

Rectors Column | 26.07.2022

Dear staff, colleagues and students,

The city of Salzburg and its surroundings offer a unique setting for university life: A top international reputation and a beautiful old town nestled in a wonderful landscape, with a wide range of sporting and leisure opportunities as well as a university that prides itself on its tradition and innovative teaching. This alone should, of course, motivate young people (from all over the world) to choose Salzburg for their studies.

Nevertheless: Salzburg is not (yet) a student city – and this is a well-known fact for its higher education institutions, especially at the PLUS. One of the biggest issues is likely to be affordable housing. I am aware that this is a very sensitive topic in Salzburg. It is therefore important to fund the building of new halls of residence, but it is even more important to offer a fair cost of living for students. Affordable housing brings students to the city of Salzburg – and we at the PLUS are naturally very interested in achieving this. However, (communal) facilities in public places, ticket prices and public transport timetables or a (too) small number of attractive offers for students are also major issues that need to be tackled.

Many of the points mentioned are beyond the control of the PLUS, but they affect us directly. Not only attractive study programmes and top-class teaching bring (potential) students to Salzburg, but a welcoming social environment is also essential. The opportunity to meet new people, to network and – finally – to celebrate together helps students to feel at home in a (new) city. The higher education institutions in Salzburg and their student bodies have joined forces with the City of Salzburg and Altstadt Salzburg Marketing to work together on this (major) project.

A new series of events for the PLUS’s new students will start in Autumn: On 14 October, the first PLUSlive Concert & Clubbing will take place in cooperation with the ARGEkultur. To kick off the new academic year, 350 first-year students will be offered a free ticket, provided they have completed and accumulated enough points through the new, digital version of the Orientation Week. Remaining tickets will be made available at student prices.

Spring is also a time for celebration:
Those who are about to start their studies at the PLUS should not be ignored. During the Open Day – dubbed PLUSorientiert – a large event is being planned in cooperation with City Beats. The PLUSpicknick project, together with Altstadtmarketing and Salzburg AG, aims to provide more opportunities for students to network. In spring, the Mönchsberg will be transformed into a large picnic area where students can enjoy spending time together. In future, there will be closer cooperation with Altstadtmarketing to create attractive offers for students (including events that are already established, such as Student Wednesdays).

Parties are an important part of student life, as the Covid-related “dry spell” of the last two years has demonstrated. Our focus, however, will not only be on events, but we also want to improve Salzburg’s status as a student city with other projects: First and foremost, we want to create communal areas for students, not only in the university buildings, but also in public places, where they can spend their free time and relax. This will require further coordination, for example with the Students’ Union or the Department of Buildings and Maintenance, to clarify the relevant needs and to realise projects in a targeted manner. In addition, teaching should also be made more attractive and more prominent (in the urban landscape): One suggestion from the Student City Working Group (AG Studierendenstadt), which was set up specifically for this purpose, was to relocate teaching activities from the University to public spaces, thus strengthening Salzburg’s position as a student city. The associated PLUSüberall project is in the starting blocks, and we hope for strong cooperation with various sites throughout Salzburg. In the future, teaching can and should take place in innovative places and unusual locations. In this way, we also support the representation of course leaders and their teaching to the outside world – after all, they all actively contribute to shaping the student city of Salzburg.

The year 2022 marks the 400th anniversary of the PLUS’s founding, and the entire Rectorate was delighted that many students joined us in celebrating. We would like to thank you for your interest in your university and its history and hope that we will also be able to welcome many of you at future events.

It is our goal to use these initiatives, which are constantly adapted and expanded, to improve Salzburg’s position as a student city and to encourage young people to attend the local universities. After all, and this is clear to all of us, students make our universities what they are: A place of teaching and learning, of knowledge and creativity, and thus form the core of our everyday university life.

Rector Hendrik Lehnert
Vice Rector Martin Weichbold