The open and tolerant ambiance at the university also creates ideal conditions for students with chronic diseases or for challenged students. We deliberately break with old ways of thinking that were based on the idea of need for help. Instead, students with and without handicaps create a barrier-free university together. The University of Potsdam is also known as a distinctly family-friendly university with many childcare facilities and playgrounds. There is a wide range of services that help young mothers and fathers to balance studies and family. Of course, all other students too will find people at the faculties and central institutions who have an open ear for their problems.
Although it is not easy to balance family, studies, and job, it is possible nevertheless. It needs determination and an iron will but also organizational skills and a solid network. Potsdam’s university contributes to this. It has made it its motto to become a family-friendly university. Prams on the campus, three-year old children in the library, and families in the cafeteria have become a normal part of everyday university life. There are parent-child rooms at all three campuses where is room for playing and working. There young mothers and fathers can look after their children in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.
At the same time, they can take care of important things on the spot. While parents attend or give a lecture, study or do research, their children stay in the day-care centers “klEinstein” or “Springfrosch”. The Service for Families of the university offers day-care facilities and additional flexible childcare. They are also available at conferences providing toys and furniture for the children of academics.
Students who are expecting a child get special assistance from the Family Service. They need a lot of support to reorganize their everyday life as students, to arrange for financing and to deal with the authorities. It sometimes helps when they can talk with other parents about their fears because they need a clear idea of how to make studies and parenthood compatible.
Other people working at the university ask themselves the same questions, no matter whether they are secretaries, Ph.D. candidates or junior professors. The beginning of a career is a sensitive time, when plans for the future job and for the family are closely linked. Here again, the university can prove its family-friendliness.