Students on their way to the mensa
Martin Braun

Field of Action 1: Opening of the University

Our Vision

RWTH is open to anyone, who wants to study or work here (provided the fulfillment of formal criteria for the admission to a study program (high school diploma or “Numerus Clausus” for certain admission-restricted courses) or an employment at RWTH). In this context, structures and framework conditions that are geared towards equality enable access to higher education that is independent of individual life situations and backgrounds, and corresponding participation in university life.

Target groups

(Potential) students and researchers of the first generation (meaning persons from families without previous academic experience) | (Potential) students, researchers, trainees and employees with an international background or disabilities or chronic illnesses | Persons on the queer spectrum

Status Quo

Varieties of strategy papers promote equal access to RWTH. In particular these are the Inclusion Action Plan (DE), which creates a comprehensive basis for the implementation of activities in the context of accessibility, as well as the Internationalization Strategy, the Equality Plan, and the Equal Opportunities Action Plan 2017-2022, which, among other things, addresses the topic of "Equal Treatment & Protection against Discrimination".
Various activities (the listing only provides a brief cross-section of the offerings. We will provide a comprehensive presentation of all activities in the area of equal opportunities as part of the Diversity Portal) already promote more equal access to RWTH and thus entry into everyday study and work. These include the talentscouting, which is aimed at first-generation prospective students and helps to raise the potential of social backgrounds, programs for female students in STEM subjects, the BeBuddy program to facilitate the entry of international students into everyday university life, the Welcome Center supporting international researchers as they settle into everyday life, and VORSCHUB. Activities in the Recruiting and Talent Development department, which is part of Department 12.0 (Human Resources Development and Talent Management), ensure, among other things, that suitable candidates are approached in a gender- and diversity-appropriate manner during appointment procedures (proactive recruiting).

Need for action

It remains a challenge to identify structures or any exclusion mechanisms that could have an (unintentional) discriminatory effect on certain target groups and make it more difficult for them to gain access to RWTH. The promotion of open access to higher education and comprehensive participation that is independent of personal backgrounds and life situations should therefore feature in all RWTH strategy papers, as should the systematic implementation of corresponding activities.
The development and implementation of equal framework conditions for access to employment at RWTH should be understood as a joint task for all those involved in selection processes.
Mobility abroad is an integral part of study and career paths. Access to temporary study abroad should therefore be possible for all students, regardless of their individual circumstances and backgrounds. Selection and application procedures for student mobility programs should be designed in an equal manner to reflect the diversity of the university with the diversity of the outgoings.
Institutes should help to provide international students and researchers with all relevant information concerning their stay at a German university at an early stage. Additionally there is a need for clear wording, less bureaucracy, and adequate bundling and visualization of offers.
RWTH needs to network more, specifically with FH Aachen, the city of Aachen, and the StädteRegion Aachen in order to strengthen a welcoming culture based on the needs of international students and researchers − and, where needed, their families.

Future activities

  • Tasks forces to discuss diversity sensitive criteria beyond numerus clausus (e.g. considering prior work experience) in admission restricted courses
  • Review ways to make examination regulations more flexible to accommodate the needs of students with diverse backgrounds
  • Expanding mentoring or buddy services for (prospective) students, and first-generation researchers
  • Complementing the offers for a welcoming culture, also in cooperation with FH Aachen, the city of Aachen and StädteRegion Aachen
  • Targeted approach to first-generation students when advertising SHK positions, as well as providing systematic support for work in the scientific context, possibly expanding to other diversity categories
  • Re-launch of diversity funds to promote diverse graduates through three-year doctoral positions
  • Expansion of measures to promote the international mobility of students and employees, as well as designing the application and selection procedures for student mobility programs in a way that is fair to all participants
  • Promoting bilingualism (German and English), especially with regard to documents and templates in the organizational units that provide advisory and information services