The next committee elections will take place in the summer semester of 2023. All students can then elect student representatives for the various committees of the University such as the Departmental Student Council (FSR), the Student Council (StuRa) or the Senate. Those who want to get involved and serve on the various committees can nominate themselves or be nominated – election nomination forms can be submitted to the University's Electoral Office until 2 pm on 12 May.
Markus Wolf and Katharina Rapp have been involved in various committees at our University for years. We asked them what their responsibilities are and why they advocate for their fellow students.
Departmental Student Councils
A Departmental Student Council represents the members of its department vis-à-vis the Student Council, the Dean's Office and sends members to committees and boards.
A degree programme or a department with several degree programmes always has a Departmental Student Council (FSR). The Departmental Student Councils advise students as well as pupils on questions concerning their studies. They organize excursions, represent the respective degree programmes at the university information day or host summer parties. The FSR offers regular office hours where students can discuss possible problems with their studies.
In the Faculty Councils of the ten different faculties of the University of Jena, decisions are made on all matters that are of fundamental importance to the faculty. Often, the various tasks are assigned to commissions.
The Faculty Council decides, for example, on nominations for professors, junior professors or on Examination and Doctoral Regulations as well as on the use of personnel and material resources. Some meetings are therefore not open to the public for reasons of data protection. As a rule, between two and four students belong to the Faculty Council and, of course, the other status groups of the University are also represented: the group of university lecturers (professors and junior professors), the group of academic staff and the employees from administration and technology.
In the Faculty Council, students can discuss who should be appointed as professor or point out problems of the students. The Faculty Council is elected every three years, just like the Senate, and the student members are elected every year. Every student who wants to advocate for their degree programme at the faculty can stand for election to the committee.
If a faculty has one or more institutes, there is also an Institute Council. The Institute Councils are not appointed as part of the committee elections – separate elections are usually held at the faculty. The four status groups of a university are also represented in the Institute Councils: the group of university lecturers (professors and junior professors), the group of students, the group of academic staff and the employees from administration and technology.
The Institute Council advises on the basic affairs of the institute, regulates the use of the institution by members of the University and comments on personnel matters of the institute's employees – therefore the Institute Council does not meet publicly. Guests are usually welcome, however.
The Student Council (StuRa) is a student committee and, together with the Departmental Student Councils (FSR), represents the interests of the students at the University of Jena. Each faculty, depending on its size, has a different number of seats in the Student Council, to which students from different degree programmes can be elected. The Student Council also employs staff and currently receives 8 euros from each student's semester fee for its work. The money is spent not only on the administration, but also on student initiatives and projects to which students or Departmental Student Councils can apply.
Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee
The Equal Opportunities Advisory Committee is a committee with an advisory function. Its task is to advocate for the constitutionally required equal opportunities for women and men at the University of Jena. The advisory committee consists of members from all faculties, the administration and students. It is elected within the respective faculties parallel to the University's committee elections. The term of office of the members is three years, for the student representatives one year.
The University Council also includes a representative of the student body – but "only" in an advisory capacity. The University Council makes recommendations on the University's profile, on the focus of research and teaching, and on the further development of the range of degree programmes offered. In addition, it takes a position on the so-called goal and performance agreements, among other things, and it confirms the University's business plans.
The Senate is a particularly important committee of the University and is involved in all key decisions. Here, for example, the Constitution is approved and updated. As in all committees, the four status groups of a university are represented: 13 university lecturers (professors and junior professors), four students, four academic employees and four employees from administration and technology.
The Senate is elected every three years, but the student senators are elected every year – two of them are from the social sciences and humanities and two from medicine and natural sciences. Students can put themselves forward or be nominated as well as enter with a list – the latter is the usual case. Such lists are often proposed by university groups. The candidate with the most votes gets priority, the others move up if necessary.
The University Assembly is composed of members of the Senate as well as the University Council, so that students also participate in this committee – the largest body of the University in terms of numbers. The University Assembly is responsible in particular for the election/deselection of the President, the election/deselection of the Head of Administration and Finance, and for resolutions on the structural and development plans of the University.
The central task of the Assistant Council is to represent the interests of the student, scientific and artistic assistants employed at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. For this purpose, among other things, a member of the Assistant Council participates in the meetings of the Staff Council, where the person has the right to propose and speak as well as the right to vote in all matters concerning assistants. (§ 88 para. 5 ThürPersVG)
In the summer semester 2023, the head of the office for central committees of the University, Dr Thomas Heller, offers the workshop "Participation in university democracy". Unfortunately, this is already fully booked. A repetition is planned for the winter semester 2023/24. All members of the University are invited to attend.