Study (Business) Information Systems in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Technische Hochschule Brandenburg)
After the positive feedback on the previous introductions we continue the series with the Technische Hochschule Brandenburg (THB).
As the person responsible for the SAP University Alliances Program in the DACH region, I am very much looking forward to another presentation.
I interviewed two students from the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program in Business Information Systems as well as Prof. Robert Franz
André Biener (AB): “Dear Prof. Robert Franz I would like to thank you for taking the time to give us an insight into your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree program in Business Information Systems. Thank you also to your students for their perspective on the program. What is the focus of your program?“
Prof. Dr. Robert Franz (RF): “With the digitalization of society as a whole, hardly any business process is conceivable today without IT support, so it is important to understand that business informatics specialists build information systems for people and not programs for computers. They work on solutions that orchestrate the interaction of processes, organizations and users, covering a wide range of topics from corporate and data security to the knowledge society.”
AB: “Why did you both decide to study at THB?”
Laura Wellhöfer (LW/ Master-Student): “When I was looking for a college or university in the Berlin-Brandenburg area to study business informatics, I liked Brandenburg an der Havel very much because the university’s website was very convincing and it is not located in the busy city of Berlin, but it has good public transport connections to get here. The presentation of the university seemed very student-oriented and the city had a convincing green and lively ambience.”
Svetoslav Nikolov (SN/ Bachelor-Student): “For me personally, there were several reasons for this. Firstly, the family atmosphere, i.e. the relationship between students and professors, which is made possible by the relatively small number of students. Secondly, the university takes care of the structured planning of the modules and provides support for any necessary adjustments. In addition, the THB has a modern technical infrastructure that promotes practical work, which is a particularly important learning aspect.”
AB: “Your university offers the global erp4students program, which is open to students from outside THB. What is this program?”
RF: “With this program, we try to build a bridge between the academic world and the real applications in everyday business. The program includes a total of 14 courses that deal with all aspects of SAP solutions. It combines sound academic fundamentals and concrete business software from everyday business life. The courses are designed flexibly as an e-learning format, but include practical work on case studies on real software systems.
Through practical learning, we achieve a high success rate. Successful participants receive a university certificate from our university with a grade and credit points, which they can then use for simplified credit at their home university, and the opportunity to participate in an official SAP certification.
This adds value for users as well as consulting or development partners of SAP and is an easy entry into the professional world for students after their studies or already for their final thesis. The great success of our erp4students program is reflected in the number of participants: Every year, we welcome around 4500 student participants from all over the world to the program and lead them to successful completion.”
AB: “What other opportunities does the degree program offer for gaining practical experience?”
RF: “The close integration with business practice runs through the entire degree program: in addition to the normal internship, which ideally leads directly to a concrete thesis at the supervising company, there are also numerous other opportunities not only to learn in the ivory tower, but to initiate contact with the business world. To this end, the university itself offers company contact fairs and individual colleagues maintain subject-specific platforms such as the Security Forum or the Berlin-Brandenburg SAP Forum of the THB to organise a regular exchange between the university and companies. Various study formats such as part-time studies, dual or part-time studies also help to ensure that contact with the real world is not lost alongside the classic full-time studies.”
SN: “In addition to the compulsory practical semester, the university also offers the opportunity to work on practice-related projects while studying. On the one hand, certifications are offered and topic-specific cooperation with different companies is made possible in the modules.
This allowed me to take part in both a basic project management certification from ASQF and an SAP BW/4HANA certification course from erp4students. This made it much easier for me to start my internship, as the core area of my internship company was SAP group consolidation.”
AB: “Have you already completed your Bachelor’s degree at the Brandenburg University of Applied Sciences and why did you decide on the Master’s program?”
LW: “Yes, I also completed my Bachelor of Business Informatics at TH Brandenburg. The familiar learning atmosphere and the closeness to the professors really excited me and made learning much easier. Every professor is very competent and helpful. You are individually supervised, promoted and supported in terms of career entry. Especially the support for career advancement was a reason for me to stay at TH Brandenburg.”
AB: “What opportunities have you already had to get in touch with SAP during your studies?”
RF: “In addition to compulsory and elective courses, there is the Berlin-Brandenburg SAP Forum, which takes place once a year. Here, experts exchange views on a current topic. SAP often gives an introductory lecture with its view of things before users report on real experiences from ongoing or completed projects. Students are always invited here as listeners so that they can also gain a quick insight into the project world and make contact with company representatives.”
LW: “Already in the Bachelor’s program there were two modules supervised by Prof. Franz in which we actively worked on the SAP system. During a guest lecture, I became aware of a small SAP consulting company. I wrote my Bachelor’s thesis there in addition to my internship and was able to learn a lot about SAP as a result. Now in my Master’s degree, I have already taken two courses in the erp4students program and I am aiming to take the official SAP Consultant Certification: S4/HANA through them.”
AB: “What exciting events or projects are there at the university, regardless of the degree program?”
LW: “I find the university’s seminar program particularly interesting. In cooperation with the Complavis Academy, various certification courses are offered that can be an advantage when starting a career. The university also organises regular training sessions on application documents and the applications themselves. Especially shortly before starting a career, students are very grateful to be able to take advantage of this offer. There are also various programs that facilitate career entry and establish contact with other students.”
AB: “What networking opportunities does the university offer?”
LW: “The university offers students many positions for student assistants/scientific assistants, which also allows them to gain initial experience and establish a wide range of contacts. I have already had very good experiences with this myself. There is also the alumni network, where graduates can stay in touch, exchange experiences and receive various information about, for example, qualification measures.”
SN: “The university offers a variety of leisure activities, including – a wide range of sports. In addition, there is the “IQ”, a student basement below the university. This provides an opportunity for students to get together and socialize. Due to corona-related online semesters, I was only able to make little use of the on-site opportunities offered by the university.”
AB: “How is the university organized as a location?”
SN: “The university is divided into three departments: Engineering, Business and Computer Science. I found the support in my department very helpful. I felt very well looked after, especially in the context of my Bachelor’s thesis. The university also has a library, which not only provides a lot of media and information services, but also offers the possibility to use the building for learning in groups. Despite a subject-specific topic in SAP Group Consolidation, I was able to find and use relevant specialist literature.”
RF: “In addition to the university’s beautiful campus in Brandenburg an der Havel, the university also operates presence centers in the state of Brandenburg. In order to keep the trained specialists in the state as much as possible, these presence offices are intended to form the interface between science and research and the region, to intensify the securing of skilled workers and the transfer of personnel from the university to the region, and to improve cooperation and communication between science, business and civil society actors.”
AB: “What are the best moments of the semester for you?”
RF: “When you see students move away from exam learning and instead invest in their own learning experiences and practice transfers in their own projects. When you see the gleam in their eyes, either performing successfully in business games through their own insights or, in the thesis phase, creating detachment from theory and leading a real challenge to a successful solution.”
AB: “What is the university’s culinary offer like?”
LW: “The mensa has a diverse range of offerings for fair prices. The hot meals respect common diets. Especially with the vegetarian dishes, emphasis is placed on fresh food and culinary excursions. For the small hunger in between, the cafeteria offers savory and sweet dishes. Highly recommended are the freshly baked waffles, which have already lightened the mood a time or two.”
AB: “What leisure activities do you like to do at the university?”
LW: “The AStA is committed to organizing nice little events outside of lectures. From parties to the famous basement quiz, I have already taken part in some of the offers and spent a relaxed evening with my fellow students. The university also offers some sports where people meet regularly and at the end of the year (for team sports) a small tournament is organized. The program changes regularly and is based on student demand. As a result, you always meet new fellow students and make new friends.”
AB: “What is the communication culture like at the university?”
RF: “Due to the size of the university and the associated work in small groups, the communication culture is very good. You know the participants and there are no barriers or hurdles. All participants in my events even have my mobile number where they can reach me at any time and this trust is not exploited or overused.”
SN: “Due to the family atmosphere and the diverse project work, we as students are usually in constant contact. In addition, the small number of participants in the modules allows for short communication channels. This means that most of the fellow students already know each other from the introductory courses and can exchange information with each other if necessary.”
AB: “What offers exist to make studying easier?”
RF: “Especially for newly enrolled students, there is a so-called project study in the first semester. In this format, participants work on a current topic in small groups as a project. This is to ensure that you quickly find contacts at your new place of study and can also establish close contact with the lecturers right from the start.”
AB: “What offers exist for students with families?”
RF: “The university has a comprehensive advisory service here. However, since all questions about family friendliness are very individual, there is a large catalogue of measures available here: This ranges from sick days for childcare, questions about studying while on maternity leave, leave of absence from studies to flexibility through a special study plan or part-time study.
But also, childcare offers up to a childminder in the student residence or advice on financial support are on the program of the family service. The THB is a family-friendly university and a member of the Robert Bosch Stiftung’s Best Practice Club “Families in Higher Education”.”
Thank you for the interview.
Andre Biener, Director DACH, SAP University Alliances, SAP SE