The Summer Universities are AEGEE’s most important and longest-lasting project. SUCT Project Manager told the Golden Times about the continuing growth of popularity of Travelling Summer Universities and the new SU map, which replaces the classic SU booklet.

Hans-Peter Bretz
SUCT Project Manager Hans-Peter Bretz

Golden Times: Hans-Peter, the list of Summer Universities went online last Sunday. Why did it take so long? The deadline for handing in descriptions expired many weeks ago…
Hans-Peter Bretz: Many descriptions were missing information. Some were incomplete or had conflicting details, for example not enough tuition hours for a Summer Course (SC), so that we had to ask for corrections or discuss exceptions. Others were technically correct, but we wanted to make sure that the organisers were aware of all requirements regarding tuition and so on, so we asked them for more details about their preliminary programs.

Golden Times: Is that the reason, why you took the list offline? A part of the SUs was online already for some hours…
Hans-Peter: We weren’t aware that so many people would follow our website so closely and decided to take down the list again to avoid any confusion.

Golden Times: What should SU organisers do to make your life easier?
Hans-Peter: The website offers a set of guidelines for organising a Summer University that sums up all requirements from the CIA. Reading this should give all information that is necessary for filling in the description form. However we also want to make the lives of the organisers easier! So we will see if we can make the website even more transparent, especially when it comes to questions like how and when to ask for exceptions. Some organisers also reported problems with the description form and we will follow up on this. We are open to all feedback, and to make giving and discussing feedback easier, we will also have a meeting at the Agora Rhein-Neckar during the time slot for project team meetings, where organisers can approach us for any questions or input.

The new SU map replaces the SU booklet

Golden Times: Great! Now let’s look at this year’s SUs. How many will there be in total?
Hans-Peter: There are 75 plus three pending Summer Universities, organised by 118 antennae and contact antennae.

Golden Times: That’s a bit less than last year… Is there a reason why?
Hans-Peter: Well, it is true that last year saw more Summer Universities with 81 in total, but if you look at the years before, 75 to 80 events is more or less the average since five years. I would be worried if we had less than 70 Summer Universities, but I think it is natural that some small antennae cannot organise a big event like this every year, but focus on other activities in some years.

Golden Times: How many TSUs and how many language courses will there be this year?
Hans-Peter: We have 33 TSUs, plus one pending one. Also, this year there are not anymore “Language Course” and “Language Course Plus” as types of Summer Universities. Instead we have “Summer Courses” and “Summer Courses Plus”, which we divide into thematic categories. So we have 6 Summer Courses and Summer Courses Plus about Languages, 17 about Arts & Creativity, 7 about Environment, 15 about History, 5 about Sports, 1 about Politics & Active participation and 2 Trainings. There are also other 22 that are not categorised under one of these categories.

Hans-Peter Bretz2
…and now he has also written for the Golden Times.

Golden Times: There was a trend to more TSUs in the past years. Is it still continuing? Are there other interesting trends?
Hans-Peter: TSUs are again the most popular type of Summer University amongst organisers. Additionally we have many cooperations with different bodies and some external partners. So far around one third of all SUs have already established a cooperation. Apart from that we had several antennae who decided to organise a TSU alone and asked for an exception for that.

Golden Times: Of course you cannot give recommendations for certain SUs. But which ones will be among the most popular ones, in your opinion?
Hans-Peter: Well there are some TSUs that offer new and interesting travel routes to the edges of the Network and our bet would be on those… You can also see on Facebook that some Summer Universities already gathered hundreds of followers or interested people, so I expect they will also have many applicants.

Golden Times: There won’t be a printed SU booklet this year, but a big poster with the main facts. Why did you decide so?
Hans-Peter: The delegates at the Autumn Agora Budapest decided to abolish the need for a printed booklet. We could have decided to still print one, but we followed the main argument against a printed booklet, the huge costs and work necessary for it that could be freed up for other things. Many people said that they don’t really use it, because they can’t give them away and most people just use the Internet. Instead we are trying out a new format, our SU maps. They are inspired by the popular Use-It maps for cities, but they will contain a map of Europe with the overview of all Summer Universities. Additionally they will show all important key facts of all Summer Universities; you can actually see a first draft here on this page.

Golden Times: What’s the idea behind?
Hans-Peter: The idea is that you have all important information at a glance, presented in an attractive way, so that you can use them as info material at your social drink or your SU PR events or as a poster at your university. But they are also much cheaper to print than booklets, so you can also use them like a flyer as give-away at your campus or hand-out at your meetings.

Golden Times: Will there be a chance to download all course descriptions for the ones who want to present them to the members in a written form?
Hans-Peter: We plan to offer them as downloadable PDF, so that you can show them offline or even print them if you have the need.

Golden Times: How was working with your SUCT colleagues?
Hans-Peter (smiles): Great, they are all very enthusiastic about the SU project and have made a lot of experience as organisers or trainers – or even SUCT members – so that we always have a lot of different angles and input in discussions. Luckily we also had the possibility to all come together in Aachen in December for a three-day meeting to get to know each other personally. I’m looking forward to meeting them again in Mannheim.

Golden Times: A few words about you: where are you from, how old are you, what do you study?
Hans-Peter: I’m 28, grew up near Köln in Germany and studied physics in Aachen, where I also joined AEGEE. Now I’m working on my PhD in Astro Particle Physics at an institute close to Berlin, to where I moved last autumn. Since then I’m also a proud member of AEGEE-Berlin.

Golden Times: How did you join AEGEE?
Hans-Peter: I joined rather late, after I came back from my Erasmus semester in Stockholm. Because I had a great time there, also thanks to their student buddy program and the activities organised for international students, I was looking for something similar in Aachen and joined AEGEE-Aachen as Erasmus tutor for the international students in Aachen.

Golden Times: What was your favourite event so far? An SU?
Hans-Peter: I only participated in one SU so far, the TSU organized by AEGEE-Cluj-Napoca and AEGEE-Sibiu in 2010, which was also my first event, and the first ones always stay in good memory. The group and the organisers were amazing and the event was a kick-start for many of us to get active in AEGEE, so there were a lot of reunions over the years. My favourite event in more recent times was the Network Meeting in Hamburg last year where I met a lot of good friends.

Golden Times: Will you go to an SU yourself this year?
Hans-Peter (smiles): I’m not sure yet, and even though I have read every single description probably numerous times, I would have to take a step back and read them again from a participant’s point of view to decide for one. But maybe I’ll also have my first non-AEGEE-related holiday in four years, I will know in 2 months…

Golden Times: Anything you’d like to add?
Hans-Peter: Thanks for the opportunity to tell a bit about our work here and I’m looking forward to an interesting Summer University season 2013!

Check out the list of all SUs: