Social Counselling / Psychological Counselling / Student Finance Counselling

"Good counselling offers orientation in everyday student life, saves educational careers and saves money!"

Manfred Kleinecke - Head of Student Counselling
When everyday life looks like this, we are there for you!
When everyday life looks like this, we are there for you!

Mr Kleinecke: How was 2022 for you and your department?
The global political situation was of course a particularly challenging topic for our work last year. We spent a lot of time supporting the Ukrainian students and also looking at how refugees from Ukraine can be well connected here. Of course, this was a big issue for many students, especially in psychological counselling. Many things were unclear at the beginning of the war. It also took some time on the part of the federal government to establish a legal framework for the care of refugees. A time in which we had to improvise within our network.

What were the most frequent topics in counselling?
Around two thirds of the cases in Landau were psychological counselling requests. Anxiety played a major role among the students. Due to the great uncertainty caused by the many current crises, there were more diffuse tendencies to feel overwhelmed when dealing with one's own (university and professional) future and the world in which one lives.

The reverberations of the Corona pandemic were also clearly visible. Some had brought social anxiety from isolation during the pandemic. For many students, this was their first semester of attendance in three or four semesters. The task of settling in again and getting involved with people was often difficult. In general, it was a great and not always mastered challenge for many to establish social contacts again.
Corona acted as an amplifier for many problems. Difficulties that were already present before became more threatening due to the pandemic and the associated isolation increased. Intercepting these tendencies was a large and important part of our work in 2022. Extensive psychological counselling is needed with young people now more than ever! More counsellor positions definitely need to be created in this area and therapy services also urgently need to expand and speed up! But, as experience has shown, this cannot be done without personal face-to-face.

Is the Ukraine war a big additional burden for the students?.
Definitely. In addition to the psychosocial aspects, it is above all the financial aspects that pose a challenge to many students. The sometimes double-digit inflation rate and the extremely high gas and electricity prices as well as the sharp increase in food costs brought many students to the brink of financially affordable. More support is urgently needed here!
Although the current BAföG reform has provided some relief, it still needs to be improved in the near future and BAföG urgently needs to become faster!

Low-cost student loans will also become an issue in the future. The KFW loans were simply far too expensive in 2022 with interest rates of over 6%, and the hurdles in applying for support loans were so high that I couldn't give out a single one in the last few years. The Studierendenwerk just doesn't have the right instruments or the financial cushion up its sleeve to provide students in financial need with the right support.

What were positive developments and achievements this year?
In 2022, our own level of knowledge was important to us. In the counselling department, further training in systemic coaching has taken place, so that we can now advise the students a little better in a solution-oriented way.
However, one of the biggest, structural steps was the conversion of our psychological counselling system to a psychological network. We have gained some psychological and coaching specialists and thus have the possibility to refer students directly to specialists close to their university location - according to their concerns - after an initial (psychological) counselling on site.
This new system allows us to work in a more individualised and client-oriented way and to have much greater transparency about the concerns and results of the counselling. We have therefore made the best possible use of the existing synergies.

The additional half-time position in the counselling department in the Studierendenwerk has also provided a quantum leap in counselling, quality and quantity. The very fact that we were able to set up a holiday replacement and make appointments even faster was positively rewarded by the students. This is also confirmed by our digital customer feedback.

At all counselling locations, we landed with an average of 4.6 to 4.7 points in all categories. We are working on maintaining this status quo, which will not be an easy task in view of the constantly increasing counselling requests.

What were setbacks?
Despite the additional half position, one and a half positions for counselling at four locations are simply too few. The workload is higher than we can reasonably handle. The attractiveness of the positions within the TV-L leaves much to be desired. Colleagues with a social education background are currently in great demand on the labour market. In a nationwide comparison, the pay for counsellors in the Studierendenwerk Vorderpfalz is in the lower range compared to comparable counselling centres. However, this is also due to the fact that the state still does not contribute to the counselling costs of the Studierendenwerk. The counselling services still have to be paid for by the students themselves through their fees.
Our demand for a budget title for social counselling has been lying unanswered for years at the Ministry in Mainz. This must change in the near future if we want to continue to provide good counselling!

Your contact person for the area
Manfred Kleinecke
Head of Consulting
Xylanderstrasse 17
76829 Landau
Tel.: +49 6341 9179 180