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June 2000

University Classes via the Internet

Study online

Some of students’ most popular excuses for not going to classes — “the lecture started too early” or “the classroom is simply too crowded” — are soon going to sound even lamer than they used to. On May 15, Bavaria posted its virtual university on the Web. The Virtuelle Hochschule in Bayern (VHB), makes it possible for students to study online from home. Nine universities and 16 Fachhochschulen (polytechnics institutions) have teamed up to present and develop their course work over the next few years at During the one-year pilot phase, the 30 classes available on the net are only from the fields of computer science, engineering, economics and medicine, and the total number of students will be limited to 800. In the future, all of Bavaria’s 200,000 students will be able to log on, surf the virtual university and get credits in all disciplines. The Bavarian government is proud of its effort to keep higher education on the cutting edge. Before launching the project, methods employed by progressive universities in the United States were researched. Over the next few years, more than 50 million marks will be spent on the Bavarian virtual university and the improved training of information technology professionals. Critics are, however, skeptical. One group has openly criticized the amount of money as being insufficient, other organizations doubt whether a cyber education will become a viable alternative to showing up for class in person.

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