Studying Successfully during the Pandemic
Everything You Need to Know about Studying during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Information about Studying during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has been significantly impacting our daily lives and studies at the University. However, also thanks to the progress being made with regard to vaccination among the population, recent developments also created new freedom for University teaching. As governmental regulations have been eased, the University of Bonn is able to stronger focus on in-person events. Of course, the University of Bonn continues to prioritize the safety of its members against a coronavirus infection.

Summer Semester 2022

Most of the legal provisions introduced to combat the coronavirus have expired as things stand. Like other universities in North Rhine-Westphalia and across Germany, the University of Bonn is returning to in-person teaching for the summer semester. The main focus is once again on event formats organized on site. However, hybrid or online teaching may also be offered in the areas where this is possible.

The faculties are engaged in regular dialogue with University management and will adjust their plans if need be. Regardless of any binding legal regulations, the Rectorate is advising people to continue limiting personal contact and taking the same familiar hygiene measures when on site as a precautionary measure. In particular, medical or FFP2 masks should still be worn when moving about inside a room, in corridors, etc.

A view into the main auditorium from the stage. A number of tables spaced apart in the main auditorium at which students are sitting, waiting to start their examination.
© Universität Bonn/Volker Lannert

Examinations

The University of Bonn has implemented a number of measures designed to permit the holding of university examinations. Online-supported written examinations and on-site written examinations are currently being deployed in order to ensure that students can continue to sit examinations.

Examinations (updated May 05)

The resolution by the University of Bonn Rectorate addresses additional matters concerning examinations, basing upon the University Ordinance on the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 Epidemic (Corona-Epidemie-Hochschulverordnung – CEHVO). The Rectorate resolution can be read here. The comments below are summarizing the key points of the resolution. In case of doubt please refer directly to the resolution text!

University examinations to be conducted in-person under the respective applicable examination regulations will, as a rule, be conducted in-person. These may however be conducted online or via electronic communications as decided by the examination board in coordination with the respective examiners, the persons responsible for the module and/or the degree program coordinators, in deviation from existing regulations. Online examinations may only be conducted via web conferencing services and/or online tools which have been approved by the Rectorate. (see also § 7)

Exam takers shall not suffer detriment due to technical problems affecting online examinations they are taking for which they are not themselves responsible. In case of minor technical problems, an examination may be suspended to be continued at a later point, if possible. In case of a significant disruption, the affected exam is canceled to be repeated at the next examination date. Technical problems must be reported immediately and documented, even if only poor image or sound quality is concerned. (see § 7 (5))

In a manner similar to how regular in-person written examinations are supervised, online exam takers may be subject to supervision (by mobile phone camera, for example) when dialing in via the web conference service/online tool specified in the appointment announcement. Video supervision must be set up in such a way to avoid impinging the personal sphere of privacy of exam takers any more than necessary for legitimate supervision purposes. Examination supervisors are prohibited from saving and/or retaining the video data of exam takers. Automated evaluation of image or sound data gathered in video supervision is prohibited. To establish test taker identity, the respective supervisor visually cross-checks face with photo ID. Data not absolutely required in order to establish identity may be rendered unreadable. (see § 8 (2))

The compulsory attendance requirements for in-person classes are regulated under the respective examination regulations. Where the applicable examination regulations stipulate compulsory attendance for a course, compulsory attendance also applies for the online course held as substitute for that course. For courses for which compulsory attendance applies under the examination regulations, the examination board may, in consultation with the respective instructors, define course requirements as prerequisite for taking the examination replacing the attendance requirement. (see also § 10 (1))

If a candidate is able to demonstrate that they are unable to sit a module examination in its intended form on grounds for which they are not responsible and which have developed in conjunction with the Coronavirus-SARS-Cov-2 pandemic—in particular due to an increased risk of a serious case of COVID-19 following an infection on the grounds of pre-existing conditions (requires a medical certificate)—and that they are suffering especial hardship as a result, the examination board can approve a written application to sit the examination in a different (but adequate) form. A case of especial hardship results in particular if the situation which the student is able to demonstrate prevents the immediate completion of their studies (which would otherwise be possible) or that their studies would be delayed by a semester. (see § 12)

For examinations in summer semester 2022, the respective examination regulations apply with regard to cancellation, withdrawal and default.

The provisions governing repeating an exam per the applicable examination regulations govern. The above does not apply if there is mandatory registration for repeated exams when such is not typically required. (see § 7 (3))

Please note that differing regulations may apply regarding the above degree programs. For further information see the Rectorate’s Resolution § 1 (4).

The Federal Government COVID-19 Warning App

We recommend that students make use of the COVID-19 warning app provided by the German Federal Government. This enables you to find out whether you are at increased risk of developing an infection and at the same time, protect others.

Teaching

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has exerted a considerable impact on the teaching operations of the University, the considerable efforts of all involved has meant that teaching could be resumed quickly. A number of different regulations have been issued during the course of the pandemic; we should like to provide an overview of the rules currently in force.

The view from the rear of a lecture hall. A camera is shown in the foreground, the display of which shows a member of the teaching staff. The background shows a blurred image of students seen from behind and a teacher standing in front of a whiteboard.
© Universität Bonn/Volker Lannert

Teaching

The University of Bonn is offering new students a range of services:

Starting Your Studies Portal

The “Starting Your Studies810” online portal provides first-semester students with a wide range of information about university life and the city of Bonn, and the steps they need to take in order to make a well-structured and independent transition to university life.

Welcoming First-Semester Students

The University of Bonn has organized a series of events designed to welcome first-semester students911 to the University. All information about the format of these events is provided in the online portal.

The University has equipped lecture halls with technology to enable hybrid teaching formats in order to compensate for the participation restrictions to which on-site attendance is subject. Last winter semester, teaching performed on-site was made available online via livestream with integrated whiteboard notes.

The University of Bonn uses the online teaching and learning platform eCampus54 to provide access to teaching materials (texts, tasks, etc.) and permit digitally-supported home-learning. Further information about your courses is provided in BASIS, the University electronic course catalog65 and on the websites of the individual faculties. Teaching staff can link courses registered in BASIS with an eCampus course. Students who have registered for a course in BASIS are usually also automatically registered in the respective eCampus course. They will receive notification once this has been performed. Students interested in participating in courses which are not subject to a registration procedure should contact the teacher of the relevant course.

Teaching staff will contact students by email; please check your University of Bonn email account76 regularly7.

The University of Bonn has purchased a large number of Zoom licenses to enable live digital teaching. Zoom can be used with established software such as Adobe Connect and DFNconf. This enables interactive teaching in courses with a large number of participants. Assistance in the use of Zoom in University teaching is provided on a dedicated web page on e-Campus; alternatively you can contact the University of Bonn ZOOM support via email.

The University of Bonn accords the highest priority to comprehensive data protection during ZOOM sessions. To this end, we have made a number of adjustments to the system functions to ensure that they satisfy our standards. The University of Bonn Data Protection Officer has issued recommendations to ensure data-protection compliant use of this software. These recommendations are subject to continuous update and adjustment to the current version of the service. This enables us to reduce the IT security and data protection risks associated with the use of Zoom. We maintain ongoing consultation with the federal and state authorities and other universities and institutions of higher education in order to develop alternative solutions for the future.

The International Office of the University of Bonn provides extensive information on residence permits, financial support, contact persons and social activities tailored to the needs of international students and international doctoral students on a designated web page.

Following consultation with the course teacher, the examination board can stipulate that the completion of certain study achievements can be substituted for an attendance requirement as the prerequisite for admittance to examinations. Please contact the person responsible for your course to establish the valid regulations. If the examination regulations stipulate compulsory attendance for a course, this requirement also applies if the course is held online. Course teachers can require that their students register at each session using their real names or a pseudonym which has been communicated to them in advance to enable them to verify the attendance requirement. Teachers do not like addressing blank screens and will usually ask their students to activate their camera. You are not obliged to activate your camera, but we would ask you to consider this option, as it facilitates a profitable exchange between students and teachers and contributes to a constructive atmosphere in the seminar. Students concerned about their privacy can generate virtual background pictures as a method of protecting their privacy.

A

Abstand/ Distance

H

Händehygiene/ Hand Hygiene

A

Alltagsmasken/ Community Masks

L

Lüften/ Ventilation


Questions and Answers

We constantly receive questions about studying during the pandemic. Please address specific questions regarding your degree program to your degree program manager or the relevant Examination Office.

FAQ

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Corona Test and Quarantine Ordinance regulate how infected people and persons who have come into contact with an infected person are to behave. 

Students are asked to inform respective teaching staff of face-to-face events about the infection. The teaching staff informs occupational safety, which explains further possible steps.

Anyone who has been in contact with a person infected with Corona has the right to be tested. This also includes contacts that are displayed by the red overlay in the Corona-Warn App. The warning message in the app serves as proof for the test center (or the family doctor). However, it is not mandatory to carry out a test if the Corona warning app is red. But we strongly recommend it. 

Following consultation with the course teacher, the examination board can stipulate that the completion of certain study achievements can be substituted for an attendance requirement as the prerequisite for admittance to examinations. Please contact the person responsible for your course to establish the valid regulations. If the examination regulations stipulate compulsory attendance for a course, this requirement also applies if the course is held online. Course teachers can require that their students register at each session using their real names or a pseudonym which has been communicated to them in advance to enable them to verify the attendance requirement.

Teachers do not like addressing blank screens and will usually ask their students to activate their camera. You are not obliged to activate your camera, but we would ask you to consider this option, as it facilitates a profitable exchange between students and teachers and contributes to a constructive atmosphere in the seminar. You may have the option of using pictures as virtual background on Zoom and in this way protect your privacy.

All important information about BAföG during the Coronavirus pandemic is provided on the dedicated web pages of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. BAföG recipients should not experience disadvantage due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The General Students’ Committee (AStA) at the University of Bonn has adapted the criteria for receiving interest-free loans from the Student Assistance Fund to the exigencies of the current situation and provides quick, uncomplicated help for students who are currently experiencing financial difficulties. Further information is available on the General Students’ Committee (AStA) homepage and the announcement from May 7.

The University of Bonn has used the online teaching and learning platform eCampus for a number of years. Members of the teaching staff can link the courses which they have registered in BASIS (the digital course catalog) with courses in eCampus, so that they are identical on each platform. Students already registered for the course have been informed of their acceptance in the eCampus courses via email. Should you have failed to receive the corresponding information, please contact the person responsible for the module.

Information about the course, course materials and the requirements for participation is provided on the relevant course page in eCampus.

No, students are not required to sit such an examination. However, you are not entitled to sit an on-site examination. The University has taken the decision to provide online-supported examinations to enable you to continue your studies. Should you experience technical problems at any time during the examination, you can withdraw from the examination.

Subject-specific information about your study schedules is provided on the website of your degree program.

The representative for students with disabilities, Marion Becker, has summarized all the support measures for students with disabilities on her homepage “Support Services for Students with a Disability”. It lists all the contact information for further advice and support.

Should students find it impossible to participate in online teaching, they have the right to a semester on leave (see § 15 Enrollment Regulations - Einschreibungsordnung). Students can apply for a semester on leave at the Student Registry. They will be required to state reasons. Students on leave are not able to sit examinations, with the exception that they can repeat failed examinations or course assessments or other work requisite to admission for a course resulting from a semester abroad which they spend on leave, or due to the need to perform childcare or care for a close dependent relative. Precise information about these exceptions is provided in § 15 para. 2 of the Enrollment Regulations (Einschreibungsordnung).

Please consult the Office for Family Services regarding any questions pertaining to the combination of family responsibilities and university studies. Its staff is happy to provide advice and support relating to this issue in these challenging times.

The University provides a range of tools to this end. Please make use of any fora on eCampus, set up by the member of staff teaching the course and in which you may be able to exercise certain rights.

All members of the University of Bonn, including international students can use the “Rosetta Stone interactive language learning program”, for which the University of Bonn has a campus license. They can also engage in a language exchange (tandem) organized by the Language Learning Center (SLZ). The General Students’ Committee (AStA) also runs its own language learning exchange program. The Goethe Institute website also provides information about the topic “practicing German free-of-charge”. The Deutsche Welle also provides materials on its website. A more interactive method of learning German is to attend the “Sprachcafé International” (an international language exchange cafe) organized by the General Students’ Committee (AStA). This is open to all students.

Further Information about COVID-19

Main Page

Return to the main page, from where you can navigate to a range of subpages.

Information for Teaching Staff

Members of the teaching staff will find the most important regulations applicable to university teaching during the pandemic here.

Important Documents

All the important documents relevant to university operations during the pandemic are available here.

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