28. November 2022 | Magazine:

Happy anniversary Student Services! 100 years of the Student Services OstNiedersachsen

“It’s our birthday and you get the presents!” – The Student Services already celebrated their anniversary this year with a number of activities. They were founded in 1922 as the Economic Office of the Technische Hochschule Braunschweig and in Clausthal-Zellerfeld as the Clausthaler Studentenhilfe (Clausthal Student Aid). Over the past 100 years, the non-profit institution has constantly evolved. It takes care of the most diverse needs of students and supports them in their everyday lives. Since 2011, it has borne the current name “Studentenwerk OstNiedersachsen“.

The new name was created after the Student Services Braunschweig and Clausthal merged in 2007. The Student Services OstNiedersachsen have their headquarters in Braunschweig. Here and at their nine other locations in Buxtehude, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Hildesheim, Holzminden, Lüneburg, Salzgitter, Suderburg, Wolfenbüttel and Wolfsburg, they facilitate the daily lives of a total of around 60,000 students. “The Student Services are a great institution! They may be quite old, but they keep themselves young by always bringing in new students. Being a partner to the students remains our core competence, even if we adapt our services to changing requirements,” explains Managing Director Sönke Nimz.

Food vouchers and shaped trays

Many university members also associate the Student Services with the canteen restaurants (Mensa) in Braunschweig, Wolfsburg, Wolfenbüttel, Salzgitter, Suderburg, Hildesheim, Clausthal-Zellerfeld, Holzminden and Lüneburg. Dietmar Smyrek, full-time vice-president of TU Braunschweig and board member of the Student Services OstNiedersachsen, is also a regular Mensa visitor. He appreciates the varied and high-quality food on offer. He likes the growing selection of vegetarian dishes, but also enjoys typical German traditional dishes that are rarely served at home. “But of course I don’t just go to the Mensa for the food. It’s also the change to get out of the office and meet people with whom I don’t have an appointment. Great conversations ensue and somehow you also have your ear to the ground at your university,” Smyrek emphasises.

This is how the kitchen of today's Mensa 1 looked in 1962. Photo credit: Heinrich Heidersberger, www.heidersberger.de

Exterior view of today's Mensa 1 in Braunschweig in 1962. Photo credit: Heinrich Heidersberger, www.heidersberger.de

Dining room of the Mensa in the Hermann-Heydenreich-Haus in Braunschweig in 1928. Today, the building at Fallersleber-Tor-Wall houses the HF 10 hall of residence. Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

He also remembers his first visit to the Mensa as a student in Göttingen: “It was very crowded and I didn’t understand the queues and just did what the people before me did. As in Braunschweig, diners at that time still got their food on shaped trays with compartments for the individual components of a dish. “You had to buy food vouchers at the cash register beforehand and you couldn’t vary anything like today. The meals were then called ‘Stamm 1’ or ‘Stamm 2’. And there was also an optional meal,” recalls board member Dietmar Smyrek.

For the future, he would welcome a return of two locations: “I would like to see us find the money for the cafeteria in the Main Lecture Hall and most importantly, a bistro in the North Campus. We have lost both of these offerings in recent years for construction reasons.”

The kitchen of Mensa 1 in Katharinenstraße in Braunschweig today. Photo credit: Markus Hörster/TU Braunschweig

The food is prepared from 6.30 a.m. so that the food distribution to the hungry students, staff and guests can start on time at 11.30 a.m. Photo credit: Markus Hörster/TU Braunschweig

In a commercial kitchen, the kitchen utensils are also particularly large. Photo credit: Markus Hörster/TU Braunschweig

Accommodation for visiting students and researchers

Professor Knut Baumann, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs at TU Braunschweig, is involved in the administrative board of the Student Services OstNiedersachsen. When Dr. Bahram Hemmateenejad from Shiraz University in Iran came to his Institute of Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry as a guest scientist, the Student Services were very helpful and committed to finding a suitable place for the scientist and his family to stay for several months, Baumann enthuses. “The Student Services offer a small contingent of furnished flats. However, the demand in the city is much greater than the supply. That’s why many guest students and visiting researchers also use the relevant flat-sharing portals, for example.

Life in the APM residence in the 1980s. Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

In the 90s, there was also a PC on the desk in the APM. Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

1975 at the groundbreaking ceremony for the APM hall of residence, better known as "Affenfelsen". Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

The APM residence in 1975 during the construction phase. Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

With shelves, the space in the Langer Kamp hall of residence is used optimally and there is even a corner left over to play the guitar. Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

New ideas for the community

The Student Services celebrated the anniversary year with, among other things, the self-developed game “studiwerk.100” for the smartphone and an ideas competition. The competition was looking for purchases that would benefit the student community. A jury selected seven ideas from 60 entries that could be realised with a budget of up to 1,000 euros each. A cosy seating area in the outdoor area of the hall of residence in Wiesenstraße has already been implemented. There are also plans for a herb garden in front of Mensa 1 in Katharinenstraße in Braunschweig and drinking water dispensers in Mensa 1 and in the Mensa in Clausthal-Zellerfeld. In addition to the seven winning ideas, another one was easy to implement: In many canteen restaurants there are now tables marked “Eat & Meet” where you can sit down with other guests to engage in conversation.

Im Zuge des Ideenwettbewerbs zum 100-jähren Bestehen des Studentenwerks, wurde eine von der Jury ausgewählte Idee schon umgesetzt: Eine Sitzecke im Außenbereich des Wohnheims in der Wiesenstraße. Ghaith und Maren (v.r.) haben die Idee eingereicht. Die beiden Mitarbeiter vom Studentenwerk freuten sich mit ihnen. Bildnachweis: Studentenwerk OstNiedersachsen

In the course of the ideas competition for the 100th anniversary of the Student Services, an idea selected by the jury has already been implemented: a seating area in the outdoor area of the hall of residence in Wiesenstraße. Ghaith and Maren ( f.r.) submitted the idea. The two Student Services staff members were happy for them. Photo credit: Student Services OstNiedersachsen

About the Student Services OstNiedersachsen

Today’s Student Services in Germany have their origins in the student self-help movement after the First World War. This movement tried to improve the difficult social and economic situation of students. At the beginning of 1922, today’s Student Services OstNiedersachsen were initially founded as the economic office of the then Technische Hochschule Braunschweig and in Clausthal-Zellerfeld as the Clausthaler Studentenhilfe (Clausthal Student Aid). In the autumn of the same year, the first two canteen restaurants and a loan office were set up in Braunschweig. Over the decades, more and more services were added: halls of residence, day care centres, psychotherapeutic counselling centres, social and financial counselling and cultural offices. Some services, such as the student services cobbler, the paper sales office or the typewriter hire shop, also disappeared again.

TU Braunschweig also congratulates the Student Services OstNiedersachsen on their 100th birthday and looks forward to a good cooperation in the next 100 years!