• Coronavirus

    Examination board In the following, we have provided specific information regarding the area of Study and Teaching

    © Universität Bielefeld

Corona (COVID-19) Measures

General information on the Coronavirus and “Which measures are being taken by Bielefeld University?” can be found at the following link:

https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/

Examination board In the following, we have provided specific information regarding the area of Study and Teaching 

This site will be kept updated.

The Rectorate, in consultation with the faculties, has published Corona Regulations to address the current situation.


A. Teaching events and courses

I. Distance as standard

Until further notice, courses will be conducted through distance learning as far as is possible, employing suitable teaching formats.  

As far as required by the nature of the course, individual courses may be held on-site, subject to the regulations of the State of NRW, and the provisions in the law on preventing infection and the operational regulations of the Rectorate.

Coursework that must be completed but not passed will be modified when the teaching format is changed to distance learning. In doing so, the purpose of the academic work, the learning target and the workload for the respective course need to be considered. Furthermore, if students are unable to meet the requirements for a valid reason, then equivalent compensation options should be recognised.

Instructions for holding examinations and carrying out laboratory work on-site during the reduced service at the University

II. Postponement

A postponement of planned courses and modules to a later semester or to the lecture-free period can be made in exceptional circumstances with the consent of the examination office.

III. Workload

The workload stipulated in the examination regulations, the subject-specific regulations and the module descriptions also applies to distance learning. The distinction between self-study and face-to-face teaching is suspended and is dictated by the nature of the chosen learning format used to facilitate distance learning.

 

IV. Recording

Recordings of online formats are only possible with the consent of all recorded persons. This also depends on whether there are options available to do so, and if the technical conditions exist.

V. Requirements for Studies

The examination regulations, subject specific regulations and module descriptions may, in some cases, contain compulsory study requirements (Module A before Module B). If, due to measures to combat the Coronavirus, students are unable to meet these requirements, these are considered to have been met in principle in order to enable the student to continue his or her studies. However, where there are safety concerns, there may be exceptions. This is decided by the respective faculty.

 


B. General study and examination work

I. Distance as standard

As far as is possible, exams will take place at a distance (online). Oral and written examinations may still be held  on-site, subject to the regulations of the State of NRW, the provisions of the law on infection and the operation regulations of the Rectorate during the pandemic.

Instructions for holding examinations and carrying out laboratory work on-site in times of reduced service at the University

Examination work and coursework are assessed according to the respective examination regulations, subject specific regulations and module description. Modifications of existing forms are possible, other forms are basically only possible after prior amendment of the respective regulations, for which simplified procedures have been developed.

 

Faculties are authorised in principle to conduct examinations in electronic form or by means of electronic communication (online examinations). For this purpose, a variety of online formats have been reviewed and will be introduced on an ongoing basis.

 

The academic coursework to be completed, but not passed, will be modified as the teaching format changes to distance learning. Here, the sense and purpose of the academic output, the competence goal and the workload for the respective course should be taken into account. If students are unable to meet the coursework requirements for an important reason, then the regulation still applies, according to which equivalent] forms of compensation may be accepted.

Exceptions for oral and written examinations

In compliance with the Corona Ordinance of NRW and the general ruling of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs, only oral and written on-site examinations are permitted at present if it is ensured that no groups of people form at the entrance and exit and that all relevant safety regulations and hygiene rules are observed, including maintaining the minimum distance of 1.5 metres—also in passageways and corridors.

Requirements for exceptions

Applications for on-site events that are possible in exceptional cases and oral and written examinations must be made in advance to the AGUS staff unit and coordinated with AGUS.  The AGUS staff will provide advice and ascertain that the safety regulations and hygiene rules can be observed. In particular, a hygiene concept must be drawn up and approved. The measures (hygiene concept) are coordinated with the public health department and approved by the Chancellor. Students who cannot participate in courses / examinations due to relevant prior illness, should be offered alternative forms of courses/ examinations.

In each case, the possibility of arranging to hold an oral examination via video conference / video call should be considered.

II. Examination deadlines

Students are requested to meet deadlines for the submission of examination papers as far as possible at least in electronic form. Teachers are requested to offer generous deadlines.

III. Electronic submission of academic coursework and examination papers

Academic coursework and examination papers are to be submitted electronically. Students should submit their work by email or via the submission folder in the Lernraum [learning room].

 

IV. Electronic submission of Bachelor theses, Master theses, Dissertations and Habilitation papers

In normal circumstances, theses would be submitted in written form to the examination office. During this exceptional time where there are no courses and university operations are restricted, students should submit their final theses electronically by email and keep to the deadline stipulated. An email with the thesis attached, which must correspond to the printed version, is to be sent to the responsible examination office and to the examiners (open distribution list). The thesis declaration must also be attached. Any current examination regulations requiring the submission of a printed version are currently suspended.

In order to avoid procedural delays, doctoral theses, including the declaration, should be submitted as a pdf file by the doctoral candidates via email to the chair of the doctoral committee and the secretary or administrative unit responsible (open distribution list). The bound version, which must be identical to the pdf, can be submitted at a later date, if printing is not currently an option. A declaration must be submitted alongside the bound version that it conforms to the pdf when handed in at a later date. The same applies to habilitation theses.

V. Electronic communication

Communication (e.g. the submission of declarations also by examiners, and course and examination work/ theses) is conducted electronically, even if the regulations in the examination guidelines and subject-specific regulations stipulate a written form. The office responsible can demand that the email address @uni-bielefeld is used when submitting the declaration. In this way declarations which would otherwise have been signed are clearly identified as belonging to the candidate sending the email.

VI. Corona virus measures constitute “important reasons”

The exam regulations recognise illness and any disadvantage to students caused by the observance of the Corona measures as being grounds for leeway. This means:

Withdrawal and extension of deadlines: It is possible to withdraw from courses and examinations or to extend deadlines. There is no limit to the possible length of the extension. To this end, the corresponding regulations have been suspended for the summer semester 2020.

If, due to the observance of the Corona measures, a student is objectively unable to continue work on a thesis, because, for example, the laboratories are closed, or essential software or literature is not available, the work may be paused. This does not  include work becoming more difficult (e.g. due to parallel childcare responsibilities) but that progress is objectively impossible. In this case, the supervisors should confirm that it is objectively impossible for the student to continue their work and is obliged to immediately inform the relevant office when the situation changes. As soon as it becomes possible for the student to resume work on the thesis, the working time allocated to the thesis continues. However, it is then possible to request an extension of the deadline citing other reasons.

If the student can provide an important reason, the study model of 2011 allows for compensation possibilities for academic coursework, in particular self-study, also with recourse to electronic formats.


C. Modification of coursework/ examination work

I. Submitting coursework and examination papers electronically

Prior to the introduction of the Corona measures, the possibility of submitting coursework and examination papers electronically was not possible. This is because the organisational, technical and legal prerequisites were lacking for its widespread use. In response to the current pandemic, numerous means for electronic submission have been created and are being continually tested and developed.

The following rules apply:

  • The content specifications and requirements, especially those set out in the module description or other examination regulations shall remain binding.   
  • The subject-matter of the coursework and examination papers is based on these requirements ("examination material"). Modifications of the content requirements are only possible within the scope of these specifications.
  • Changes may arise in the design of the intended examination format, given that the assessment will be conducted electronically.
  • Online assessment should only be carried out if reliable examination results can be obtained and the principle of equal treatment for students, also those who have submitted work in the past, is observed (principle: content requirements for coursework/ examination papers should not differ).
  • The online tools developed at Bielefeld University shall be used to submit coursework and examination papers, the LernraumPlus [learning room plus], for example. See: learning platforms.
II. Coursework/ examination papers and attendance

Academic coursework that has to be completed, but does not have to be passed, will be modified when the teaching format is changed to remote learning. Here, it is important that the purpose of the academic work, the competence goal and the workload for the respective course is reflected. Furthermore, the regulation still applies which states that equivalent forms of compensation should be accepted if students cannot meet the requirements for an important reason.

The requirements concerning attendance are principally the same during on-site teaching.  In regular face-to-face teaching sessions, there is no isolated obligation to attend. However, some course requirements may mean that the student needs to be present. These principles are transferred to online teaching. If, in exceptional cases, a particular online course requires the student to be present, this should be made clear by the lecturers in advance so that students can decide on a different semester plan if necessary.

The LernraumPlus [learning room plus] is a platform used to submit examination papers and academic coursework. 

III. Oral examinations/ disputations / habilitation presentations with the aid of video conferencing

An oral examination is characterised by the fact that every verbal expression as well as every form of non-verbal communication is perceived by both the candidates and the examiners/ assessors which can influence the form, the process, the documentation and the evaluation of the examination. Furthermore, care needs to be taken that examinees only use approved aids in the examination.

There are limitations, however, in the use of a video conferencing to recreate this environment. This can also be associated with disadvantages for examinees or lead to unfair differences in examination conditions.

Because of this, it is only recommended that oral examinations, disputations and comparable formats be held via video conferences if they cannot be postponed. The following procedure should be used:

  • All parties involved (examiners, candidates, assessors) are in agreement that the oral examination be held via videoconference.
  • Technical assurance that all participants (examiners, examinees, assessors) have good eye contact and can perceive non-verbal communication and that a stable internet connection exists.
  • Before the examination begins, a few minutes should be invested in rehearsing the steps in the examination with the student. Ideally all participants should familiarise themselves with the technical tools before the exam.
  • When the student is not physically present at the University: Before the exam begins, the student is requested to submit the declaration and to allow for an inspection of the room so that the examiners can see that no unauthorised aids are in use. In addition, during the examination, the camera view should include a view of the closed door as well as the student. The student should also take a picture using his or her mobile phone of his or her field of vision, and hold the phone display up to the webcam. This is to ensure that no aids (e.g. in paper form) are positioned next to the camera.
  • If technical problems arise during the examination that compromise the conditions stated above, the examination should be discontinued and repeated again at another time.   
  • As with standard oral examinations, a report is compiled by the examiners (sample report). This report should include the technical conditions of the examination (in particular the type of software used, the quality of transmission, possible malfunctions and explanatory notes) as well as the answers of the examinee. The University does not record the examination in any electronic form. 
  • Finally, the consultation by the examiners on the final grade takes place without the involvement of the student. Therefore, the connection to the student must be interrupted during this time (e.g. muting and turning off the video view from the examiners’ side. In Zoom, please use the waiting room).  

Bielefeld IT Service Centre (BITS) also provides Skype and Zoom.

 

IV. Written Exams and comparable formats

As a replacement for on-site exams, a separate Moodle Instance is available for conducting exams and comparable formats instead of the Lernraumplus [Learning room plus] which is the current Moodle instance. Moodle can be used in any case for so-called Open Book exams. If Moodle is used for so-called closed question types, i.e. questions that can be evaluated automatically, the rules for this are based on those previously applied to multiple choice exams. Further information on the current progress of setting up the separate Moodle instance and its practical application - including a possible option of electronic monitoring - can be found here.

In Open Book exams, students write exams adjusted for online technology from home with the use of aids. In devising the tasks and/or evaluating them, the exam’s modification has to be taken into account in order to ensure equal treatment with students from previous semesters. Further didactic advice.

In addition, a procedure has been developed for conducting examinations using a video conferencing system.

Further details can be found in the Corona Regulations.

Faculties can change the format of the examinations, and many faculties are already making use of this possibility. To this end, the University has made it easier for the faculties to change the module description, so that the form which the exams take can be modified. If there is the need to replace written exams with oral examinations or coursework, although not stated in the course description, this will now be possible. It is recommended that the deans of faculty arrange these changes in consultation with the Department of Study and Teaching. 

V. Compensation for disadvantages and hardship

The exceptional circumstances that students are faced with as a result of the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus (COVID-19) epidemic must be taken into account. In particular, students who belong to a risk category according to the classification of the Robert Koch Institute or share a household with a person who belongs to a risk category must be granted appropriate compensation for any disadvantage arising from this.

In cases of hardship, it is also possible to arrange individual examination dates or provide other forms of examination.

The prerequisites are set out in § 3 of the Corona Regulations.


D. Student internships/ placements

I. External placements (outside the University)

It is up to the external hosts of the respective placement to decide whether the placement can be continued under the current circumstances. So long as regular teaching activities are suspended (https://www.uni-bielefeld.de/topics/coronavirus/) the students are not required by the University to complete the placement. If there is the possibility of the placement continuing, students must decide for themselves on how to proceed.

Specific information on school-based work placements in teacher training

 

II. Practical training at the University

For internal placements, e.g. in laboratories, the same stipulations apply as for face-to-face courses; these are not taking place under the current circumstances. Whether practical work such as Bachelor's and Master's research projects can be carried out while observing the necessary hygiene measures should be determined in the individual departments. However, there is also the possibility to withdraw from the placement or to extend the deadline (see above).


E. Transition between Bachelor's and Master's programmes

In view of the current situation, Bielefeld University is also working to make the transition between Bachelor's and Master's programmes more flexible. Its approach is that corona-related measures or corona-related absence should not result in the transition to the Master's being made more difficult or even impeded.

For this there are two approaches:

  1. Pre-study

In the summer semester 2020, the regulations on pre-study also apply to academic Master's programmes. Exceptions are at the discretion of the faculties. This means that Bachelor students, who planned to transition to a Master’s programme in the summer semester 2020, can remain enrolled in the Bachelor Programme and already study in the Master’s programme for which they fulfil the admission requirements.

  1. Preliminary enrolment

Preliminary enrolment is possible in a corresponding Master’s Programme for particularly important reasons, as long as the student meets the prerequisites of the course. Students who have been granted admission to the programme for the summer semester 2020, then, have such a reason. For any other grounds, candidates must give justification (e.g. problems with state funding for studies ‘BAföG’). In these cases, the candidate must provide proof of completion of their first university degree to qualify for the Master’s course. To this end, they will need a certificate provided by the examination office which confirms that the degree would in all likelihood have been completed by 15.05.2020 (regular deadline) if studies/examinations had not been cancelled from March 2020 onwards due to the Corona virus. Thus, the ‘4.0 certificate’ which is usually issued will be replaced by a predicted degree certificate. The examination office can be of assistance here.

Current information - Student Office


F. “Expiring” subject-specific regulations on 30.09.2020

There are some older subject-specific regulations on the basis of which a degree can still be obtained until 30.09.2020. Thereafter the new regulations apply. If, due to the current cancellation of courses and examinations, it is not longer to obtain a degree in line with the expiring regulations and this is clearly apparent, then the relevant examinations can still be taken at the next available date. This is to ensure that the student can still achieve the degree according to the expiring regulations. Students affected by this are requested to email their respective examination office by 30.09.2020 in order to make use of this option.


G. Standard duration of studies

The individual standard period of studies has been extended by one semester, also for students who are on leave of absence. The individual standard period of study is additionally listed on the final/ graduating documents.


H. Applying for a certificate electronically

There is no need to submit a hard copy of the certificate application. Instead, students are requested to send the signed application form by email to the relevant authorities in scanned form.


I. BAfög [state funding of studies]

In her press release of 13.03.2020, the Federal Minister of Education and Research, Ms. Karliczek, pointed out that BAföG recipients are not expected to suffer any financial disadvantages due to the corona pandemic. Further information is available from the BAföG Office


J. Contact persons