The winter semester is in full swing, but there are hardly any people to be seen in German universities, seminar rooms, lecture halls and canteens.
Uni operation is running again on the back burner.
After the freshmen were allowed to familiarize themselves with their teaching institution in introductory events and rounds of introductions, they were quickly sent back to the home office in October.
The ongoing digital teaching should actually leave its mark on the housing market, one might expect.
After all, it doesn't matter whether you follow the online seminar on the screen near the university, somewhere on the outskirts, in the village or even at home with your parents.
But the opposite is the case.
The prices for shared apartments rose again at the start of the winter semester.
This was the result of an analysis of market data from the housing portal WG-gesucht.de by the Moses Mendelssohn Institute (MMI).
“The upward trend that has been going on for six years is continuing, not despite, but precisely because of the corona pandemic,” says MMI Director Stefan Brauckmann.
As a nationwide average, the price for a room in a shared apartment rose from 389 euros last year to 400 euros, as the evaluation shows.
As so often, the front runner is Munich with a flat share price of 650 euros, unchanged from the previous year.
This is followed by Garching (550 euros), Frankfurt / Main (520 euros), Berlin (500 euros) and Stuttgart (498 euros).
Comparatively cheap locations are Heidelberg (390 euros), Münster (380 euros) and Aachen (365 euros).
Source: WORLD infographic
"Since seminars and lectures are currently almost exclusively offered as digital events and many foreign students stay in their home countries, we actually expected a decline in demand and prices," says Brauckmann.
But several effects would have caused the exact opposite.
Fewer students from abroad are enrolled in local university locations.
But fewer German students would spend a semester abroad.
In addition, there are now early starters who would have little opportunity to travel the world after graduating from high school.
The popular high school sabbatical is canceled.
“The number of students is increasing because school graduates lack plannable alternatives such as stays abroad, internships or training positions due to the corona pandemic,” said Brauckmann.
But staying with the parents or studying digitally in remote places is obviously out of the question.
"Despite the pandemic restrictions, many young people want to leave their parents' home and gain experience at the university location," is the MMI's observation.
Here, of all places, flat share rents are falling
Inexpensive work in an airy and rural home office?
This is obviously out of the question for the students of Generation Z - which, however, also calls into question many of the theses on a general increase in home working.
If even new students don't want to forego contact with their peers, urban density and offers - why should they do that later?
However, the MMI has also observed that flat share prices are not increasing equally everywhere.
In cities that are traditionally popular with foreign students, falling demand has led to falling prices.
Flat share rents in Frankfurt / Main fell by ten euros, and in Heidelberg by more than 20 euros.
Conversely, more German students are crowding into less internationally known places - for example in Lüneburg, where prices rose from 350 to 385 euros, in Kempten (from 330 to 370 euros) and Koblenz (from 310 to 350 euros).
“On average, in cities with little internationalization of the universities, prices rose by 15 euros or 4.1 percent,” Brauckmann continued.
The analysts at MMI, however, anticipate that the current reluctance among foreign students will likely soon be reversed.
Because in Germany, the restrictive measures are far fewer than in some other countries and the health system is relatively stable.
Problem for financially weak parents
Overall, a large number of students were looking for a shared apartment, says Annegret Mülbaier, spokeswoman for WG-gesucht.de: "In September, with 12.2 million visitors, the previous year's level on WG-gesucht.de was even exceeded."
Since the first nationwide survey in 2013, the price increase has totaled 23.5 percent or 76 euros.
The general price increase during the period was just under seven percent.
Development is a problem especially for students whose parents cannot contribute a lot of money.
"Because the additional income opportunities, for example in the catering trade or in leisure facilities, are severely limited," says Mülbaier.
Members of the Bundestag of the Green parliamentary group renewed their demand for an "offensive for student housing".
"The federal government is requested to immediately start talks with the federal states in order to implement a federal-state program for the construction of publicly funded student dormitories with the involvement of the German Student Union," said Chris Kühn, spokesman for building and housing policy, and Kai Gehring, Spokesperson for research, science and universities.
In addition, the lump sum for rent in BAföG must be staggered regionally and made dynamic "in order to adapt it to overheated housing markets."