• Coronavirus

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All Updates

Calendar week 22/2020

Update of 26.05.2020 for students: Updated information on studies and examinations

Dear students,

The coronavirus pandemic continues to severely restrict normal teaching and studying routines despite the initial easing of restrictions. Developments are still dynamic, requiring constant adjustments from the university. In addition, we are still faced with the challenge of ensuring that the current online semester is carried out in the best possible way. We are very aware of how much the special situation has affected you both privately and in your studies. Please rest assured, we are working hard to improve conditions for you—always within the framework of the current hygiene and safety regulations. The 2020/21 winter semester will certainly also not be an onsite semester as we were used to having before the pandemic. We assume that teaching will continue to take place predominantly in the form of online and ‘distance learning’ courses. Whether and to what extent onsite courses will then become possible, however, is currently completely open.

In the past few days, the Rectorate, the administration, and those responsible in the faculties have initiated further concrete measures and regulations. Today, as announced, we want to inform you about how things stand at present, especially with regard to carrying out teaching courses and examinations.

The following regulations and measures are particularly important for you as a student:

Lecture periods

  • The lecture period of the current semester will end regularly on 17 July 2020.
  • The lecture period of the winter semester 2020/21 will begin on 26 October. First semester students will start on November 2.  February 12, 2021 has been set as the end of the lecture period.

Teaching and examinations in the current summer semester

  • Until 30 September 2020, courses will be held exclusively online or in the form of ‘distance learning’. Oral examinations and written examinations for up to 25 persons can also be held digitally with the Zoom video conference system. Further digital solutions for larger examination cohorts are currently being examined. Your teachers will inform you accordingly with regard to courses and examinations if they have not already done so.
  • The only exception is practical courses that require special laboratory and work rooms and cannot be replaced by digital formats. These are above all laboratory internships, practical sports events, or artistic coaching. It goes without saying that all hygiene and infection prevention measures must be observed. Hygiene protection concepts have been and are being developed for this purpose with the respective departments and coordinated with the local health authority.

According to the regulations of the NRW State Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs, oral and written examinations that are not possible online may also be held onsite. Therefore, binding hygiene protection concepts have also been drawn up in coordination with the local health authority for holding oral and written examinations in person. Examinations with up to 5 persons can be held in central and also in decentralized seminar rooms of the faculties and institutions. Examinations with significantly more than 5 persons (medium examination format) can be held in designated lecture halls and centrally managed seminar rooms. A comprehensive hygiene protection concept for large examination formats is currently being developed with the local health authority. The university canteen [Mensa], the Lokschuppen concert hall, the sports hall, and the Stadthalle city concert hall are to be used for this purpose. Your teachers will keep you informed in a timely manner.

  • Work on Bachelor's/Master's degrees and research in laboratory teams is still possible.
  • On May 12, 2020, on the basis of the Corona Epidemic Higher Education Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Rectorate issued the regulations for coping with the challenges posed by the coronavirus epidemic in study, teaching, and examinations. These were developed in consultation with the faculties in order to create legal bases—especially for the conversion to online formats. The Corona Order can be found here.
  • A ‘small’ student survey is currently being carried out to assess first experiences with the current online semester along with direct needs in this semester. Please complete the survey; your feedback is important. The regular general student survey will take place as usual at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter semester. This will also address experiences with the previous online semester.

Further Information

  • The individual standard period of study has been extended by one semester for all students enrolled in the 2020 summer semester. At Bielefeld University, this also applies to students on leave of absence.
  • In cases of exceptional hardship, students will be allowed to work at individual student workplaces in faculty rooms. If in need, please contact your teachers or the deans of studies. Registration is mandatory. Further possibilities of offering you workstations on campus are still being examined.
  • The library will continue to operate with limited opening hours only for lending and short catalogue searches. Interlibrary loans are possible. Important: Student workstations in the reading rooms are still not available.
  • For single-parent students taking their final exams, the Studierendensekretariat [Student Office] can issue a certificate for emergency care in childcare facilities. Here you can find more detailed information on the requirements.
  • For students in financial difficulties (e.g. due to loss of job, etc.) the Federal Minister of Education has launched a bridging aid in the form of an initially interest-free loan from the KfW Bank - see www.kfw.de/studienkredit-coronahilfe. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has made emergency aid funds available to the student unions. These emergency aid funds are allocated as non-repayable support to students in particularly acute need in line with the funds’ usual regulations. Unfortunately, a starting date for applications has yet to be announced. To obtain support with living costs in these difficult times, you can also turn to the Social Fund of the AStA.

We now have a much better overview of the consequences we need to draw for university operations in the face of the pandemic. Nonetheless, much still remains to be done. We thank you very much for your patience and your openness towards the new online formats. Despite all the challenges, we wish you a good lecture period in this special semester. We shall inform you about all further measures and regulations in a timely manner.

Stay healthy!

 

With best regards

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Studies and Teaching

Update of 26.05.2020 for teachers: Updated information on teaching and examinations

Dear teachers,

The coronavirus pandemic continues to severely restrict normal teaching routines despite the initial easing of restrictions. Developments are still dynamic, requiring constant adjustments from the university. In addition, we—and above all you as teachers—still face the challenge of organizing and carrying out the current online semester in the best possible way for all concerned. At the same time, we have to start planning for the coming winter semester 2020/21—even though we have yet to receive any decisions or clear signals from the state government.

In the past few days, the Rectorate, the administration, and those responsible in the faculties have initiated further concrete measures and regulations. Today, as announced, we want to inform you about how things stand at present, especially with regard to carrying out teaching courses and examinations.

Lecture periods

  • The lecture period for the summer semester 2020 began on April 20, 2020 and will end on July 17, 2020.
  • The State Ministry of Culture and Science has responded to the request of the universities and agreed to postpone the start of the lecture period for the winter semester 2020/2021 until November 2 for all first semester students and until October 26 for all other students. The end of the lecture period has been set at 12 February 2021.

Teaching and examinations in the current summer semester

  • The summer semester remains (almost exclusively) an online semester. Until 30 September 2020, courses will be held exclusively online or in the form of ‘distance learning’. Oral examinations and written examinations for up to 25 persons can also be held digitally with the Zoom video conference system. Further digital solutions for larger examination cohorts are currently being examined.
  • The only exception is practical courses that require special laboratory and work rooms and cannot be replaced by digital formats. These are above all laboratory internships, practical sports events, or artistic coaching. It goes without saying that all hygiene and infection prevention measures must be observed. Hygiene protection concepts have been and are being developed for this purpose with the respective departments and coordinated with the local health authority.
  • According to the regulations of the NRW State Ministry of Labour, Health, and Social Affairs, oral and written examinations that are not possible online may also be held onsite. Therefore, binding hygiene protection concepts have also been drawn up in coordination with the local health authority for holding oral and written examinations in person. Examinations with up to 5 persons can be held in central and also in decentralized seminar rooms of the faculties and institutions. Examinations with significantly more than 5 persons (medium examination format) can be held in designated lecture halls and centrally managed seminar rooms.
  • In order to use centrally administered classrooms, you must register via the central room allocation system. Please contact your Dean of Studies or ekvv representative. Registrations will be collected and coordinated there before being forwarded to the central room allocation office.

A comprehensive hygiene protection concept for large examination formats is currently being developed with the local health authority. The university canteen [Mensa], the Lokschuppen concert hall, the sports hall, and the Stadthalle city concert hall are to be used for this purpose. Further information will follow.

  • Work on Bachelor's/Master's degrees and research in laboratory teams are to be permitted in accordance with the regulations for research work. However, this will also require a supplementary risk assessment from the laboratory managers.
  • On May 12, 2020, on the basis of the Corona Epidemic Higher Education Ordinance of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Rectorate issued the attached regulations for coping with the challenges posed by the coronavirus epidemic in study, teaching, and examinations. These were developed in consultation with the faculties in order to create legal bases—especially for the conversion to online formats. They also contain regulations on examination procedures and on applications/enrolment, flexibilizations of regulations on the transition from Bachelor to Master, and regulations on the necessary requirements for attending follow-up modules or courses. Further details can be found in the regulations
  • A ‘small’ student survey is currently being carried out to assess students’ first experiences in the current online semester along with their direct needs. The regular general student survey will take place as usual at the beginning of the 2020/21 winter semester. This will also address experiences with the previous online semester.
  • A ‘small’ teacher survey is currently being prepared in order to gather information on initial experiences and needs in the current semester. A large survey and in-depth interviews are planned at the end of the semester in order to look back on the experiences gained and draw conclusions for future semesters and digital teaching as a whole.

Teaching and examinations in the winter semester 2020/21

  • The winter semester 2020/21 will also not take the form of the onsite semesters we were used to before the pandemic. Teachers can therefore plan and offer the digital course and examination formats already planned and implemented for the current semester along with other courses in the coming semester in this form. Exceptions and regulations for carrying out onsite courses in the winter semester, especially for students in their first semester, will cooperatively developed.

Employment law information for teachers

  • All forms of ‘distance learning’ continue to be possible: teachers can use mixed forms of online, text work, zoom small groups, and self-study. To reduce group sizes, courses can be duplicated and credited separately in accordance with the Teaching Responsibilities Ordinance (LVV). The crediting of teaching formats is, moreover, currently analogous to that for classroom teaching otherwise provided to the same extent.
  • To support digital teaching formats, it is possible to increase the number of working hours of already employed assistant staff at short notice or to hire new assistant staff. For these short-term requirements, the usual period of four weeks to the 1st or 15th of a month does not apply. Please contact the administrative management of your faculties and institutions to obtain advice and support if you wish to hire or increase the number of staff.
  • For teachers whose fixed-term employment contracts run between 1 March and 30 September 2020, the maximum fixed-term contract period is being extended by six months (in line with WissZeitVG). The principal 6-year period before or after a doctorate is then being changed to a qualification period of 6.5 years.

Specific information for students to know

  • The individual standard period of study has been extended by one semester for all students enrolled in the 2020 summer semester. At Bielefeld University, this also applies to students on leave of absence. For all students studying ‘Rechtswissenschaft mit Abschluss erste Prüfung’ [law with a first examination], the 2020 summer semester will also not be taken into account when calculating the Freiversuchsfrist [free attempt period].
  • In cases of exceptional hardship, students will be allowed to work at individual student workplaces in faculty rooms. If in need, please contact your teachers or the deans of studies. Registration is mandatory. Further possibilities are still being examined.
  • The library will continue to operate with limited opening hours only for lending and short catalogue searches. Interlibrary loans are possible. Student workstations in the reading rooms are still not available.
  • For single-parent students taking their final exams, the Studierendensekretariat [Student Office] can issue a certificate for emergency care in childcare facilities. Here you can find more detailed information on the requirements.
  • For students in financial difficulties (e.g. due to loss of job, etc.) the Federal Minister of Education has launched a bridging aid in the form of an initially interest-free loan from the KfW Bank—see www.kfw.de/studienkredit-coronahilfe. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research has made emergency aid funds available to the student unions. These emergency aid funds are allocated as non-repayable support to students in particularly acute need in line with the funds’ usual regulations. Unfortunately, a starting date for applications has yet to be announced. If students ask you for advice, you can also refer them to the Social Fund of the AStA.

We now have a much better overview of the consequences we need to draw for university operations in the face of the pandemic. Nonetheless, much still remains to be done. We thank you very much for your commitment, but we do ask you to continue to be patient.

 Despite all the challenges, we wish you a continued good lecture period in this special semester and we shall inform you about all further measures and regulations in a timely manner.

Stay healthy!

 

With best regards

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose, Vice-rector for Studies and Teaching

 

Calendar week 18/2020

Update of 30.04.2020 for students - Reduced operations: updated regulations

Dear Students,

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to impose significant limitations on us, even as politicians have now decided to ease the first restrictions. The situation continues to evolve, requiring us at the university to continuously modify our response. We also face the challenge of finding solutions for the current summer semester (which has been moved online and began on April 20) in order to allow you to complete your studies this semester in the best way possible.

In the past weeks, we have become acquainted with the model of “reduced basic operations,” which went into effect with the Organisationsverfügung (Organizational Decree) on March 23. Since that time, we have revised existing university regulations based on the provisions of the Coronaschutzverordnung (Corona Protection Ordinance), the Corona-Epidemie-Hochschulverordnung (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance), and the  Allgemeinverfügung zur Durchführung von Lehr-und Praxisveranstaltungen sowie Prüfungen an den Hochschulen (General Ordinance for Conducting Teaching and Testing at Institutions of Higher Learning) of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzstandard (SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Safety Standards) from the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. These regulations can be found at www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus.

Here is a short overview of the most important regulations pertaining to you:

  • University buildings remain closed to the public until further notice. The campus, however, is accessible to individuals whose presence is covered under the regulations for reduced basic operations, including permitted teaching and examination activities, as well as for students and researchers picking up or returning books to the library. This also applies to those who must be present on site to perform contractual obligations for the university, such as construction workers or suppliers.
  • On campus, a minimum of 1,5 meters distance between individuals must be strictly maintained. In areas of public traffic within university buildings (hallways, central university hall, staircases, restrooms, etc.), a protective mask covering your nose and mouth must be worn. This also applies for the public area of the library. Forming groups of more than two people should continue to be avoided.
  • Individuals with respiratory symptoms, fever, or loss of sense of smell or taste are not allowed on university premises (unless these symptoms have been otherwise cleared by a doctor).      
  • In-person events and gatherings continue to be prohibited. Courses and examinations are to be offered in distance learning formats to the greatest extent possible. Exceptions are possible for courses that cannot be held digitally (because they, for example, have to be done in certain settings, such as practical lab courses), and for parts of examinations – provided that safety provisions and hygiene regulations are upheld. Exceptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Bielefeld University’s Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection Service (AGUS) as well as the Health Department of the City of Bielefeld and then approved by the chancellor of Bielefeld University.
  • The University Library remains open in reduced basic operation mode. Student work areas are not accessible.

The Organizational Decree also contains supplemental, updated regulations in full detail, including those relating to teaching and examination activities, travel, risk groups, and what to do in the event of infection.

Even as we continue to make progress in organizing university operations in the midst of this pandemic, we are fully aware that there are still a great many questions that remain unanswered – and new questions that arise on a daily basis. We therefore continue to ask for your patience and understanding. The Rectorate is working together with expert authorities and deans, along with the deans of studies and managers to find optimal answers to these questions as quickly as possible. We will continue to keep you informed – promptly and transparently – of new developments.

Please follow these regulations and act with due responsibility during this difficult time.

Take care, and stay healthy.

 

Regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Update of 30.04.2020 for staff - Reduced operations: updated regulations

Dear ladies and gentlemen, Dear colleagues,

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to impose significant limitations on us, even as politicians have now decided to ease the first restrictions. The situation continues to evolve, requiring us at the university to continuously modify our response. We also face the challenge of finding solutions for the current summer semester (which has been moved online and began on April 20) in order to allow you to complete your studies this semester in the best way possible. The same goes for you and your departments: regulations must be regularly reviewed and updated.

In the past weeks, we have become acquainted with the model of “reduced basic operations,” which went into effect with the Organisationsverfügung (Organizational Decree) on March 23. Since that time, we have revised existing university regulations based on the provisions of the Coronaschutzverordnung (Corona Protection Ordinance), the Corona-Epidemie-Hochschulverordnung (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance), and the  Allgemeinverfügung zur Durchführung von Lehr-und Praxisveranstaltungen sowie Prüfungen an den Hochschulen (General Ordinance for Conducting Teaching and Testing at Institutions of Higher Learning) of the Federal State of North Rhine-Westphalia as well as the SARS-CoV-2-Arbeitsschutzstandard (SARS-CoV-2 Occupational Safety Standards) from the Federal Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs. These regulations can be found at www.uni-bielefeld.de/coronavirus.

Here is a short overview of the most important regulations pertaining to you:

  • University buildings remain closed to the public until further notice. The campus, however, is accessible to individuals whose presence is covered under the regulations for reduced basic operations, including permitted teaching and examination activities, as well as for students and researchers picking up or returning books to the library. This also applies to those who must be present on site to perform contractual obligations for the university, such as construction workers or suppliers.
  • On campus, a minimum of 1,5 meters distance between individuals must be strictly maintained. In areas of public traffic within university buildings (hallways, central university hall, staircases, restrooms, etc.), a protective mask covering your nose and mouth must be worn. This also applies for the public area of the library. Forming groups of more than two people should continue to be avoided.
  • Individuals with respiratory symptoms, fever, or loss of sense of smell or taste are not allowed on university premises (unless these symptoms have been otherwise cleared by a doctor).     
  • In-person events and gatherings continue to be prohibited. Courses and examinations are to be offered in distance learning formats to the greatest extent possible. Exceptions are possible for courses that cannot be held digitally (because they, for example, have to be done in certain settings, such as practical lab courses), and for parts of examinations – provided that safety provisions and hygiene regulations are upheld. Exceptions are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by Bielefeld University’s Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection Service (AGUS) as well as the Health Department of the City of Bielefeld and then approved by the chancellor of Bielefeld University. Committee meetings must be held online. Work meetings/conferences should be done digitally or by telephone.
  • The University Library remains open in reduced basic operation mode.
  • In general, researchers should work from home. There are workplaces, however, for which home office is not fully possible (e.g. labs). Presence on site should still be reduced to a minimum, and regulations pertaining to workplace design must be observed.
  • Technicians and administrators are to work from home to the extent possible until further notice. Update: on a case-by-case basis, employees may arrange with their supervisor to work at their normal university workplace if this is desired due to particularities of the employee’s home situation. The responsible supervisor must then organize on-site presence of staff members so that prolonged periods of personal contact among employees are kept to an absolute minimum.
  • The move to trust-based, flexible working hours has been extended through August 31, 2020.   

The Organizational Decree also contains supplemental, updated regulations in full detail, including information on risk groups, on what to do in case of infection, travel, workplace design, and dealing with meetings/conferences.

Even as we continue to make progress in organizing university operations in the midst of this pandemic, we are fully aware that there are still a great many questions that remain unanswered – and new questions that arise on a daily basis. We therefore continue to ask for your patience and understanding. The Rectorate is working together with expert authorities and deans, along with the deans of studies and managers to find optimal answers to these questions as quickly as possible. We will continue to keep you informed – promptly and transparently – of new developments.

Please follow these regulations and act with due responsibility during this difficult time. We will continue to rely on you all to help us meet the many challenges of this pandemic with creative solutions.

Take care, and stay healthy.

 

Regards,

Dr. Stephan Becker, Chancellor

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer, Rector

Calendar week 16/2020

Update of 17.04.2020 for students - Coronavirus: Start of the Summer Semester 2020

Dear students,

The corona epidemic poses considerable challenges for society as a whole and also for the university. As you know, Bielefeld University has been in reduced basic operation mode since 23 March 2020 and is closed to the public. Researchers, teachers, and administrative staff are not working on campus unless it is absolutely necessary. Courses, starting next Monday, April 20, will also (initially) not be taught on site, but in forms of ‘distance learning’. Therefore, neither teachers nor students should come to the university at the beginning of the semester.

The university management is very aware that many members of the university—not only you as students but also the teaching and administrative staff—are severely affected by the pandemic. Many are currently experiencing great anxiety and are worried not only about their own health and that of their relatives but also about the further planning of their academic qualifications, research, and teaching. In some cases, they are facing difficult working conditions at home—for example when they need to look after children or care for relatives. All members of the university are making every effort to offer students and teachers the highest level of support (e.g. digital tools) even under these difficult conditions.

From the very beginning, the Rectorate has aimed to provide you with transparent and timely information. We continue to work on creating as much clarity and structure as possible. Nonetheless, please bear in mind that we are all operating in an unprecedented situation: changes are developing very quickly and—not least because of changing legal conditions—new adjustments are always necessary. In particular, we have to comply with the new legal requirements of the state and federal government. On April 7, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia announced that the 2020 summer semester will initially begin as an ‘online semester’ from April 20. Your teachers will be able to offer many courses and examinations online and they will inform you accordingly. In addition, other forms of ‘distance learning’ can also be implemented. Hence, in addition to the online formats mentioned, these can include text work, independent research in the sense of ‘problem-based learning’, telephone conferences in working groups, and so forth.

The Ministry has announced that it will issue further regulations on the organization of courses and examinations during the course of next week.

In the ‘Ordinance on the management of the challenges posed to higher education by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 crisis (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance)’, which came into force this week, regulations have been introduced that affect higher education directly. The following briefly summarized keywords are intended to give you a quick overview of the regulations currently agreed upon at Bielefeld University.

Teaching during the summer semester

  • The beginning of the teaching period of the summer semester has been moved to April 20, 2020 without any extension going beyond the end of the summer semester.
  • Lectures and seminars will initially take place exclusively online or in ‘distance learning’.
  • On-site events should be resumed as soon as safely possible; perhaps later in the semester, but perhaps not until winter or later.
  • The start of the winter semester 2020/21 has been postponed to November 1, 2020 for newly enrolled students; for all other students, the latest available information is that it will probably start on October 26, 2020, with a corresponding extension of the semester into February 2021.

The following regulations are particularly important for you as a student:

  • The individual standard period of study will be extended by one semester for all students enrolled in the summer semester 2020.
  • The German Rectors’ Conference [Hochschulrektorenkonferenz] and the State Rectors’ Conferences are trying to negotiate an appropriate regulation with the federal government for BAföG, child benefits, and health insurance.
  • Our aim is for courses to take place as far as possible. However, this cannot be guaranteed in all cases. In the electronic lecture schedule commentary (ekvv), teachers should indicate whether the respective course (a) is taking place as planned, (b) is taking place in a modified form, or (c) has had to be cancelled. Credit points and study achievements can be acquired in full during all conducted courses listed in the ekvv.
  • Internships and other courses that cannot function without direct contact as well as examination formats that cannot be done digitally may be postponed until the teaching-free period after the end of the summer semester or even to the winter semester.
  • The university management is committed to providing financial support to students in difficulties (e.g. due to job loss, etc.). The Federal Minister of Education has also announced additional unbureaucratic financial aid for students who are without work or income due to the Corona crisis and are not entitled to BAföG. The current plan is to make interest-free loans as a bridging aid. The AStA Social Fund is also able to offer support with living costs in these difficult times.
  • Students in difficulties who lack the necessary equipment to participate in online courses have the exceptional opportunity of borrowing tablets from the BITS IT services (unfortunately, there is currently a short-term lack of laptops on the market). Because the available number is limited, this is only possible in exceptional cases. Students in such difficulties should contact their teachers or their respective dean of studies who will then contact BITS.
  • For students who are unable to work at home due to domestic stress, we are trying to find individual solutions in cases of hardship. Depending on the regulations in force at the time, we shall try to provide rooms with Internet access at the university. If in need, please contact the teachers in your faculty. However, because possibilities are very limited due to the Corona regulations, this can only apply in emergencies.

Finally, one general remark: We are aware that you are currently receiving a large number of e-mails with advice and information from various members of the Rectorate. This is due to the current situation and unfortunately cannot be prevented for content-related and organizational reasons. We hope you will understand this.

Despite all the challenges, we wish you a good start to the summer semester in this exceptional time. We shall inform you promptly about all further measures and regulations.

Please be patient with yourself and others and stay healthy!

 

With best regards,

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sager
Rector

Dr Stephan Becker
Chancellor

Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose
Vice-rector for Education and Teaching

Update of 17.04.2020 for teaching staff - Coronavirus: Start of the Summer Semester 2020

Dear teachers,

The corona epidemic poses considerable challenges for society as a whole and also for the university. As you know, Bielefeld University has been in reduced basic operation mode since 23 March 2020 and is closed to the public. Researchers, teachers, and administrative staff are not working on campus unless it is absolutely necessary. Courses, starting next Monday, April 20, will also (initially) not be taught on site, but in forms of ‘distance learning’. Neither teachers nor students should come to the university.

The university management is very aware that many members of the university—not only teachers but also students and administrative staff—are severely affected by the pandemic. Many are currently experiencing great anxiety and are worried not only about their own health and that of their relatives but also about the further planning of their academic qualifications, research, and teaching. In some cases, they are facing difficult working conditions at home—for example when they need to look after children or care for relatives. All members of the university are making every effort to offer teachers students and the highest level of support (e.g. digital tools) even under these difficult conditions.

From the very beginning, the Rectorate has aimed to provide you with transparent and timely information. We continue to work on creating as much clarity and structure as possible. Nonetheless, please bear in mind that we are all operating in an unprecedented situation: changes are developing very quickly and—not least because of changing legal conditions—new adjustments are always necessary. In particular, we have to comply with the new legal requirements of the state and federal government. On April 7, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia announced that the 2020 summer semester will initially begin as an ‘online semester’ from April 20. In addition, other forms of ‘distance learning’ can also be implemented. Hence, in addition to the online formats mentioned, these can include text work, independent research in the sense of ‘problem-based learning’, telephone conferences in working groups, and so forth.

The Ministry has announced that it will issue further regulations on the organization of courses and examinations during the course of next week. The ‘Ordinance on the management of the challenges posed to higher education by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 crisis (Corona Epidemic University Ordinance)’, which came into force on 17 April, has introduced regulations that affect higher education directly. The following briefly summarized keywords should give you a quick overview of the regulations currently agreed upon at Bielefeld University.

Teaching during the summer semester

  • The teaching period of the summer semester will begin on April 20, 2020 without any extension going beyond the end of the summer semester.
  • Lectures and seminars will initially take place exclusively online or in ‘distance learning’.
  • On-site events should be resumed as soon as safely possible; perhaps later in the semester, but perhaps not until winter or later.
  • The start of the winter semester 2020/21 has been set as November 1, 2020 for newly enrolled students. According to the latest available information from the KMK, it will probably be October 26, 2020 for all other students with a corresponding extension of the semester into February 2021.

Teaching staff

  • The framework for the delivery of courses is the state regulation to deliver teaching in online/distance learning formats during the summer semester (and possibly also for the following winter semester).
  • Our aim is for courses to take place as far as possible. However, this cannot be guaranteed in all cases. The electronic lecture schedule commentary (ekvv) should be used to indicate whether the respective course (a) is taking place, (b) is being modified, or (c) has had to be cancelled.
  • All forms of ‘distance learning’ are possible: teachers can use mixed forms of online, text work, zoom small groups, and self-study. They should inform students registered for their courses by circular e-mail and by correspondingly informative commentaries in the ekvv on how and where the learning group will meet for the first time (e.g. with a link to a zoom meeting or a Panopto livestream) together with where the information and documents for the course can be found (e.g. in the learning room or LernraumPlus).
  • The scope of compulsory teaching is given by the Ordinance on Compulsory Teaching. The increased workload resulting from the switch to digital teaching formats - especially for teachers with high teaching loads - can be countered by dividing and offering larger learning groups in parallel.
  • Temporary lecturers or assistants can be used as required to support or supplement teaching (especially for teachers with a high teaching load >12 SWS). Funds for additional auxiliary staff will be available.  
  • The maximum length of employment for research assistants according to WissZeitVG (6 years) is being increased by half a year.
  • All lecturer and assistant contracts will be made as planned. For temporary lecturers (only), the additional work involved in converting to a digital format can be taken into account at the discretion of the faculty - if necessary, by allocating additional course hours.
  • In exceptional cases, lecturers who do not have access to WLAN at home can use a room at the university to carry out their teaching digitally - subject to both individual agreement and availability.

Students

  • The individual standard period of study will be extended by one semester for all students enrolled in SS 2020.
  • The German Rectors’ Conference [Hochschulrektorenkonferenz] and the State Rectors’ Conferences are trying to negotiate an appropriate regulation with the federal government for BAföG, child benefits, and health insurance.
  • Within the scope of the courses carried out, credit points and study achievements can be acquired with full crediting.
  • Internships and the like as well as exam formats that cannot be carried out digitally may be postponed until the teaching-free period after the end of the summer semester or even to the winter semester.
  • Deadlines and set times for individual work (term papers, reports, final papers) should be adjusted (as decentrally as possible).
  • The university management is committed to providing financial support to students in difficulties (e.g. due to job loss, etc.). The Federal Minister of Education has also announced additional unbureaucratic financial aid for students who are without work or income due to the Corona crisis and are not entitled to BAföG. The current plan is to make interest-free loans as a bridging aid. The AStA Social Fund is also able to offer support with living costs in these difficult times.
  • Students in difficulties who lack the necessary equipment to participate in online courses have the exceptional opportunity of borrowing tablets from the BITS IT services (unfortunately, there is currently a short-term lack of laptops on the market). Because the available number is limited, this is only possible in exceptional cases. Students in such difficulties should contact their teachers or their respective dean of studies who will then contact BITS.
  • For students who are unable to work at home due to domestic stress, we are trying to find individual solutions in cases of hardship. Depending on the regulations in force at the time, we shall try to provide rooms with Internet access at the university.

Finally, one general remark: We are aware that you are currently receiving a large number of e-mails with advice and information from various members of the Rectorate. This is due to the current situation and unfortunately cannot be prevented for content-related and organizational reasons. We hope you will understand this.

Despite all the challenges, we wish you a good start to the summer semester in this exceptional time. We shall inform you promptly about all further measures and regulations.

Please be patient with yourself and others and stay healthy!

 

With best regards,

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sager
Rector

Dr Stephan Becker
Chancellor

Calendar week 15/2020

Update of 08.04.2020 for students - Coronavirus: Summer Semester

Dear students,

The current situation requires drastic measures at our university, and these also apply particularly to the field of teaching. This affects you directly, and you quite understandably have many justified questions.

In recent days, we have informed you regularly about developments and provided information on study courses and teaching during the Corona crisis on our homepage at https://uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/. However, much is still unresolved. As of today, the following applies: The state has postponed the start of the semester to April 20. Until then, attendance courses and written examinations have been cancelled and oral examinations can be held only in cases of hardship. The Ministry of Culture and Science, in consultation with the State Rectors’ Conferences, has now also decided to start the 2020 summer semester as a purely ‘online semester’. Your university aims to offer you a summer semester that is as full and adequate as possible starting April 20, 2020. Despite the lack of face-to-face teaching, you will be able to acquire credit points in the usual way throughout the semester. As far as possible, your lecturers will be converting their courses and examinations into digital formats. Internships, experiments, field trips, or visits to archives should be replaced by equivalent, contact-free arrangements if possible. Where this is not possible under the given conditions, courses will be postponed until the semester break or the following semester. It is not yet possible to say how far the situation may change during the course of the semester and allow us to recommence attendance courses. We shall immediately inform you and the lecturers about any changes.

A new epidemic law is currently being negotiated in the state parliament and will hopefully be passed shortly. This law will also authorize our Ministry of Science to take the necessary decisions in the current crisis situation. Universities and the Ministry have agreed that the standard length of study for currently enrolled students should be extended by one semester. We are waiting for a decision by the federal government on BAföG and child benefit entitlements. The universities of North Rhine-Westphalia have been advocating this strongly, and we assume that we shall soon receive corresponding decisions. To the best of our knowledge, the Ministry will also soon be issuing new regulations so that examinations can be carried out in a manner adapted to the present situation. You can be sure that we shall keep your legitimate concerns in mind during all this.

Your lecturers are planning to deliver their courses in distance learning formats for the coming summer semester, and they will offer alternative forms for taking examinations. They will do their best to offer you good courses during the time you are not allowed to attend face-to-face lectures so that you can continue to acquire the competencies you need to complete your studies successfully.

The lecturers all want to return to direct communication with you in the seminar room, laboratory, or lecture hall as soon as possible. They want to exchange ideas and discuss them with you directly. At the moment, however, they are having to turn to digital tools and develop other teaching concepts. We also ask for your understanding and patience here should anything not always work perfectly straight away. Your lecturers are highly committed, but they are also often breaking new ground.

We can assure you that everyone—in the faculties, in the administration, and also in the responsible Ministry—is working flat out to get the necessary regulations in place. Everyone is aware of how uncertain the situation is for you at the moment, and how much you are worried about how your studies will continue. As soon as the major decisions have been made, we shall be able to address your individual questions. The Rectorate wants to remain in close dialogue with you. Therefore, we are planning to set up a livestream at the beginning of the semester in order to answer frequent questions. We invite you to submit questions in advance. We shall be able to tell you shortly how and until when you can do this via the university's mailing list and social media channels.

Naturally, your contact persons in the faculties, in the Student Secretariat, and in the Central Student Advisory Office are available to advise you.


Please stay healthy.

With kind regards,

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose

Rector Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching

Update of 08.04.2020 for teaching staff - Coronavirus: Summer Semester

Dear Teachers,

The current situation requires drastic measures at our university. This also applies particularly to the field of teaching and thus to one of our core tasks. In recent days, we have informed you regularly about developments and provided information on study courses and teaching during the Corona crisis on our homepage at https://uni-bielefeld.de/themen/coronavirus/studium-und-lehre/. However, much is still unresolved. As of today, the following applies: The state has postponed the start of the semester to April 20. Until then, attendance courses and written examinations have been cancelled and oral examinations can be held only in cases of hardship. The Ministry of Culture and Science, in consultation with the State Rectors’ Conferences, has now also decided to start the 2020 summer semester as a purely ‘online semester’.  It is not yet possible to say how far the situation may change during the semester and allow us to recommence attendance courses. Therefore, our common goal must be to offer students as full a summer semester as possible from 20 April 2020—a semester during which they will continue to be taught the competencies they need to successfully complete their studies. Despite the lack of face-to-face teaching during the semester, students should be able to acquire credit points on a regular basis.

At the same time, the standard study course length is to be extended by one semester for currently enrolled students. The same applies to BAföG and child benefit entitlements. The State Rectors’ Conference has advocated for this strongly, and we assume that we shall soon receive a corresponding decision from the state and the federal government. To the best of our knowledge, the Ministry will also soon be issuing new regulations so that examinations can be carried out in a manner adapted to the situation.

Because the summer semester will be online, all courses must be planned in distance learning formats, and alternative performance formats have to be developed for examinations. We therefore ask you most sincerely to convert your courses to digital formats. Even if this cannot always be realized in full, our efforts should be directed towards replacing internships, experiments, field trips, or visits to the archives with equivalent, contact-free arrangements wherever possible. Where this is not possible under the given conditions, courses must be postponed to the semester break or the following semester. We shall inform you immediately as soon as they can take place again at the university.

Extensive information on the wide range of possibilities and advisory services is available here: www.uni-bielefeld.de/einrichtungen/zll/distance-teaching-and-lea-2/index.xml and https://www.uni-​bielefeld.de/elearningmedien.

We are aware that this change will pose considerable challenges for you—both organizationally and didactically—and we would like to thank you expressly for your commitment to providing our students with good seminars and courses even during this time when they are unable to attend in person. Many of you are already using the possibilities of e-learning and distance learning and see new opportunities in these formats.

Of course, we all want to return to direct communication with our students in the seminar room, laboratory, or lecture hall as soon as possible. We want to exchange ideas and discuss with them directly. Nonetheless, digital tools can basically complement established teaching formats. We now need to try them out and see what forms they can take. Let us take this opportunity to develop new digital teaching formats in the coming semester and test them systematically. You will all gain individual experience with these tools, and we would like you to tell us about them so that we can gather these experiences together. Give us feedback—what was offered, what went well, which hurdles had to be overcome, where did you come up against (technical) limits? In this sense, we can use the coming weeks as an investment in the future.

You will all also be wondering what impact the changed conditions will have on the fulfilment of your teaching responsibilities. This issue is also being discussed with the state. We assume that there will be no change with regard to the fulfilment of teaching responsibilities if a course that is normally offered face to face is now implemented digitally. Whether or not the same amount of contact time is offered digitally should not be an important issue. Instead, alongside livestream services such as Zoom chats or Panopto recordings, it is also possible for students to use different work formats either individually or in small groups. These can be text work or videos with tasks, group work on set questions, Padlets that students create together, quizzes, and so forth. What is important is that the measures contribute to acquiring the competencies specified in the module. If, on the other hand, no courses are offered, the teaching responsibilities have also not been met. These will then have to be made up at a later time.

At this point, we also wish to point out that the planned awarding of temporary lectureships [Lehraufträge] will continue as before along with employment contracts with student and research assistants—even if it is foreseeable that the work will not be performable in the usual way during the summer semester. If temporary lectureships cannot be provided digitally, we ask the faculties to examine whether they can commission other services that would help teaching to run smoothly. As a university, we see ourselves as having a responsibility towards these colleagues and students, and this also applies to the agreed scope of teaching assignments and employment contracts.

We would like to thank you very much for the commitment and creativity you have already shown in the past weeks. If we continue in this way, we shall be able to emerge from the Corona crisis even stronger than before.

Please stay healthy.

 

With kind regards

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer      Prof. Dr Birgit Lütje-Klose

Rector                                           Vice Rector for Studies and Teaching

Calendar week 13/2020

Update of 23.03.2020 for students - Coronavirus: Reduced Operations

Dear Students,

We are faced with an extreme situation that none of us have ever experienced before. It is a strain on all of us, and it also requires drastic measures for our university. We cannot rely on existing contingency plans or draw on experience for this. It means that we are constantly having to evaluate the situation for the university and make decisions under changing conditions.

On the one hand, we assume responsibility for society as a whole and take the most far-reaching measures possible to try and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. On the other hand, we see it as our mission to ensure that the university can continue to operate to the necessary extent—especially as this crisis will most likely continue for quite some time.

Important information for you: The state government has postponed the start of the semester, cancelled attendance courses and examinations until 19 April 2020, and is allowing oral examinations only in cases of hardship. As far as possible, teachers are converting their courses into a digital format so that they can continue to impart the competencies you need to complete your studies successfully. The same applies for alternative exam formats. We assume that it will not be possible for you to attend the university in person during the summer semester. However, credit points will be given as far possible for alternative study courses and exams. We shall continue to press the authorities to extend the entitlement to student grants (BAföG-Berechtigung) by one semester. The administrations of all universities and universities of applied sciences are striving actively to achieve such solutions.

We have already been responding to the crisis systematically since the end of January and have successively modified and scaled back our operations. If possible, we want to avoid closing the university completely, because this would greatly jeopardize the success of work by students and academics as well as many projects.

We believe that we have found a good way to deal with the current situation. Academics should not work on campus unless absolutely necessary. The standard workplace for staff in the service units is the home office. Where operationally necessary or technical requirements are lacking, they still work at the university, but then in individual offices.

Unfortunately, no workplaces are available for you at the university in the current situation.

The library has switched to a reduced basic service restricted to staff and students of Bielefeld University. It is only possible to borrow media that are indispensable for individual research activities or for studies provided these are not available in electronic form. Personal advice will only be provided electronically (by email, chat, or telephone). The reading areas are also closed.

All service units of the university can now be reached only by email or telephone. I ask for your understanding when all your concerns cannot be dealt with as quickly as usual. Nonetheless, contracts for student assistants and tutors will continue to be processed and issued.

The Studierendenwerk has closed the university canteen (Mensa) and the cafeterias.

We are now also closing the university buildings to the public. The main entrance to the main building and the entrance to building X at the security control centre are open. Only persons who still have to work on site or need to borrow media from the library may enter the university.

I am very much aware that the current situation is very difficult for you. You may also even be facing financial difficulties through losing your job—whether in gastronomy or trade. I am sure you have a great number of questions: What will happen with my studies? How will the situation affect my grant (BAföG) or my scholarship? What about my exams? Unfortunately, many of your questions simply cannot be answered at present. In a number of cases, we are waiting for decisions by the national or state government. However, I can assure you that with regard to anything we can regulate ourselves, we shall do everything in our power to be exceptionally fair. Nonetheless, I must ask you to be patient. We shall keep you informed about all developments.

Our goal is to carry on offering courses during this time so that the semester is not completely lost, even though we cannot work with you directly in seminars and lectures. We are already experiencing how teachers are using the opportunities provided by e-learning and how many of them also see that it offers new possibilities. Nonetheless, it cannot and will not be a complete replacement for direct teaching in lectures, seminars, and the like. In the coming semester, we shall only be able to offer you very restricted courses.

I am also aware that many of you are being very committed during this time. For example, you are organizing neighbourhood help schemes or engaging in other social activities. I find this very impressive, and it also makes me proud of you.

We hope that despite the distance and the reduction in personal contacts, we shall move closer together and that our university will be even stronger when we survive the crisis.

Thank you very much for your understanding.

The current regulations for reduced operations can be found here.

May you and your families stay healthy.

Yours sincerely,

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer

Rector

Update of 23.03.2020 for staff - Coronavirus: Reduced operations

Dear ladies and gentlemen, Dear colleagues,

We are faced with an extreme situation that none of us have ever experienced before. It is a strain on all of us, and it also requires drastic measures for our university. We cannot rely on existing contingency plans or experience for this. It means that we are constantly having to evaluate the situation for the university and make decisions under changing conditions.

On the one hand, we assume responsibility for society as a whole and take the most far-reaching measures possible to try and reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. On the other hand, we see it as our mission to ensure that the university can continue to operate to the necessary extent—especially as this crisis will most likely continue for quite some time.

We have already been responding to the crisis systematically since the end of January and have successively modified and scaled back our operations. If possible, we want to avoid closing the university completely, because this would jeopardize the success of academic work and projects on a very large scale. If we are to defend this approach under the given circumstances, we require far-reaching regulations along with the continued cooperation of all of you.

We believe that we have found a good way to deal with the current situation. Academics should not work on campus unless absolutely necessary. The standard workplace for staff in the service units is the home office. Where operationally necessary or technical requirements are lacking, they still work at the university, but then in individual offices. We have switched to trust-based working hours here. This allows employees to organize their working hours flexibly and, for example, arrange childcare better. We would like to thank the many colleagues who are constructively supporting this change and have succeeded in implementing it in such a very short time. Meetings and committee sessions will be held via video conference. If, in exceptional cases, this is not possible, the distance and hygiene rules applicable to each contact situation must be observed.

However, there are also areas in which working from home is only partially possible. Here, domain-specific solutions are being found while minimizing social contacts. This applies particularly to professors and heads of research groups. They are responsible for their own domains and it is essential for them to adapt their working conditions to the circumstances.

If you are still working at the university, please minimize social contacts. Please only meet with a maximum of one person and then keep the minimum distance of 1.5 meters.

The library has switched to a reduced basic service restricted to employees and students of Bielefeld University. It is possible to borrow media that are indispensable for individual research activities or for studies provided these are not available in electronic form. Personal advice will only be provided electronically (by email, chat, or telephone).

The Studierendenwerk has discontinued all canteen and refreshment services. All service units of the university can now be reached only by email or telephone.

We are now also closing the university buildings to the public. The main entrance to the main building and the entrance to building X at the security control centre are open. Only persons who still have to work on site or need to borrow media from the library may enter the university.

In the current situation, we must not forget that our core task is teaching. The state government has postponed the start of the semester, cancelled attendance courses and examinations, and is allowing oral examinations only in cases of hardship. Our common goal must be to carry on teaching our students during this time so that the semester is not completely lost, even though we are prevented from working with them directly in seminars and lectures. We are already experiencing how teachers are using the opportunities provided by e-learning and how many of them also see that it offers new possibilities. Nonetheless, it cannot and will not be a complete replacement for direct teaching in lectures, seminars, and the like. We can only offer our students a very limited range of courses in the coming semester. We would like to thank all those who—both here and in many other places—are trying to solve problems and are committed to our tasks.

Some of our students are facing financial difficulties through losing their jobs—whether in gastronomy or trade. They have many questions. Unfortunately, we cannot answer all of these at the moment.

We are aware that many of you are having to cope with challenging situations in your personal environment. For example, many are worried about elderly or distant relatives with whom direct contact is currently not possible. For those of us who live alone, the restrictions designed to maximally limit contact have particularly serious consequences—this also applies to many of our international colleagues. Caring for children and relatives in need of care are also tasks that have to be rebalanced every day and are often not easy to master. We know that all these situations are additional challenges and require a lot of patience and strength from you.

We would therefore like to take this opportunity to thank you most sincerely for the great commitment you have shown in overcoming this crisis.

We also appeal to you to please act responsibly in these difficult times and find creative solutions.

We hope that despite the distance and the reduction in personal contacts, we shall move closer together and that our university will be even stronger when we survive the crisis.

The current regulations for reduced operations can be found here.

May you and your families stay healthy and overcome this crisis together.

Yours sincerely,

 

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer                                        Dr Stephan Becker

Rector                                                                                   Chancellor

Calendar week 12/2020

Update of 19.03.2020 - Hardship provisions for examinations / Reduced opening hours of the Bielefeld University Library

Hardship provisions for examinations

On 17 March, the university responded to a decree issued by the state government by announcing a general cancellation of all examinations and tests both written and oral. After consultation with the NRW Ministry of Science, the universities have succeeded in making hardship clauses possible. Therefore, this announcement further specifies the regulations of 17 March for oral examinations.

As a hardship provision, oral examinations may be held at the university under the following conditions:

  • The examination is the final examination or one of the last parts of an examination that leads or will lead directly to the completion of a degree in the current examination period (e.g. final examination in a Master's programme, oral examination for a doctoral degree, last examination before the transition to “Referendariat”). Hence, it is an examination that enables the examinee to access the next career level without delay.
  • Both the examiners and those to be examined must expressly agree to carry out the examination.
  • The size of the examination room must allow a minimum distance of about 2 metres between all participants and its ventilation must meet the general standard. Hygiene instructions must be followed.

In the event that it is not possible to hold an oral examination in the above-mentioned manner, there is the alternative option of arranging an oral examination via video conference/video telephony. In every case, the examinee must be clearly identified (e.g. by showing a valid official identification). In addition, the examinee must make a legally binding declaration that no unauthorized aids are available during the oral examination via video conference/video telephony and that no other persons are present in the same location as the examinee.

Students to whom this may apply are requested to contact the responsible offices in their faculties.

 

Reduced opening hours of the Bielefeld University Library

The Bielefeld University Library has the following opening hours from Friday, 20 March 2020 until further notice:
Monday to Friday: 10.00 to 16.00 hrs
Saturday & Sunday: closed

Only the main library entrances D1 and U1 in the main university building and the departmental libraries in building X are open.
The Central Lending Desk will be closed from Monday, 23 March 2020.

The aim is to ensure a necessary supply of literature.
Important: Only books that are not available electronically can be borrowed.
Users should check whether it is really necessary to visit the library. A large number of e-books, online journals and databases are available online.
https://www.ub.uni-bielefeld.de/english/

Update of 17.03.2020 for students and staff - Handling of exams

Dear Students and Staff,

We find ourselves in a situation in which we have to take the most far-reaching measures possible to reduce the risk of transmission and protect society as a whole. Against this background and after our latest assessment of the situation, we want to update our email of 13 March 2020 and inform you about the following measures with regard to teaching and studies:

By postponing the start of lectures to 20 April 2020, we have already cancelled all teaching activities involving the physical presence of lecturers and students until 19 April 2020. This covers all courses, exercises, tutorials, seminars, practical laboratory courses, and any other type of event. In principle, virtual e-learning formats without any physical presence can be applied; lecturers should inform their students accordingly. Whether practical work within the framework of Bachelor's and Master's theses can continue to take place while still observing the currently applicable hygiene regulations should be coordinated in the individual work fields. Examination papers such as term papers, final theses, and so forth can still be submitted. Students should submit their theses by email or via the submission folder in the virtual learning area [Lernraum]. Should the examination regulations provide for the submission of a printed version, this regulation is no longer valid. In the case of final papers, an e-mail with the final paper, which corresponds fully with the printed version, must be sent to the responsible examination office as well as to the examiners.

Important: According to a further decree issued by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia dated 16 March 2020, all examinations and oral tests up to 19 April 2020 will be cancelled and postponed to a later date. Bielefeld University is making every effort to set up secure conditions for also carrying out examinations in electronic form.

Furthermore, we ask for your understanding that from now on and until further notice personal visits to the service units (e.g. Student Secretariat, Examination Office, Infopoint, Central Student Advisory Service, International Office, etc.) are no longer possible. Your questions and concerns can be dealt with only by e-mail or telephone.

We shall continue to inform you promptly about all further measures after assessing the current situation.

Please stay healthy!

With kind regards

Prof. Dr-Ing. Gerhard Sagerer                              Dr Stephan Becker
Rector                                                                       Chancellor

Update of 17.03.2020 for academics - Home office and official trips

Dear Academics, Dear Colleagues

In light of the continuing spread of the coronavirus, we want to give you some further information.

First of all: We find ourselves in a predicament: on the one hand, we have to take as far-reaching measures as possible to reduce the risk of transmission from the point of view of society as a whole; on the other hand, we must ensure that the university can continue to function as well as possible.

Bielefeld University is made up of the people who engage in research, teach, study, and work here. It is therefore important to provide all our employees with the greatest possible degree of care and protection.

We need to pay particular attention to caring for those particularly vulnerable persons for whom infection with the disease would be an incalculable life risk. This is why we have already taken appropriate measures last week to protect high-risk groups and pregnant women.

For all researchers who do not fall into the above-mentioned groups, we ask all workplaces to check how far academics can carry out their tasks from home and then to please coordinate their assessments with the deans of their faculties. Physical presence at the university should be restricted as far as possible.

We also ask you to refrain from official trips—that is, not to attend conferences and congresses at the present time. Should this result in cancellation costs, individual solutions will have to be found.

If you have any further questions or problems, please contact the Department for Personnel and Organisation.

Please stay healthy!

Best regards

Prof. Dr-Ing Gerhard Sagerer                               Dr Stephan Becker
Rector                                                                       Chancellor

Calendar week 11/2020

Update of 13.03.2020 - Coronavirus: Important information

in view of the dynamic development in the spread of the coronavirus, the Ministry of Culture and Science NRW, in agreement with the universities and universities of applied sciences, has decided to postpone the start of lectures for the 2020 summer semester until April 20. The end of the lecture period will still be 17 July.

We are all aware that we are dealing with a very serious situation. We must all make sacrifices to protect the weakest members of our society.

Therefore, Bielefeld University is taking further measures. Our underlying mission here is to do everything possible to prevent the coronavirus from spreading while simultaneously continuing research, teaching, and studies as best we can.

The measures are as follows:

  • All current lectures and seminars (or also preliminary courses) requiring the physical presence of lecturers and students will be cancelled up to and including April 19. Lecturers are requested to conduct their courses with digital instruments (some learning) if possible.
  • During the next two weeks, all exams will be cancelled and postponed to a later date. The university will examine how far electronic aids can be used for examinations. Further regulations concerning examinations will be announced shortly.
  • All public events at the university will be cancelled until 30 April.
  • All university sports events will be cancelled for the time being. The UniFit, sports hall, and swimming pool will be closed.
  • University Library: Books can still be borrowed, but the reading rooms are closed. Users should use the extensive electronic services. You can find current information about the library here.
  • All PC pools will be closed.
  • Students and prospective students are asked to refrain from visiting the service units in person until further notice and to use e-mail and telephone for their questions and advice. We ask for your understanding when services cannot be provided in the usual form.
  • However, the Studierendenwerk starts making special plans for its services next week. It will be announcing these plans separately.

Further measures for staff and scientists are:

  • All conferences and congresses planned at Bielefeld University for the summer semester are cancelled. This also applies to third-party events. This does not apply to academic working group meetings involving the participation of external academics who travel to Bielefeld University for this purpose. In this case, however, it is necessary to check whether it would be possible for guests to participate via video conference. Those responsible should carry out a risk assessment in accordance with the recommendations of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). They can also obtain advice from the Occupational Health and Safety and Environmental Protection Department (AGUS; contact: coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de).
  • The chairpersons at all internal working sessions, meetings and committee meetings should check whether the meeting is necessary. If this is the case, premises should be chosen that allow the widest possible seating distance (at least 1 metre) between participants.
  • In view of the fact that schools will be closed from Monday (16 March), the following rule applies: the university must ensure that it can function and that it can carry on functioning over a longer period. We are aware of the special problem that school closure raises for parents. Employees who are unable to organize childcare for their children (younger than 12 years or with impairments making them dependent on assistance) within the flexi-time framework (from 6.45 to 20.00) should contact their superiors. If possible, home office should then be made available to them. If home office is not possible, they should first use up any holidays or flexi-time credit at their disposal. The university will examine how far it may be possible for employees with care responsibilities to take a paid leave of absence of up to 10 days. However, it is still necessary to place this on a legal basis—the university will be addressing this in the next few days. Nonetheless, one thing is important: children are not allowed to come to the university.

In addition, all previously announced rules and measures will continue to apply and be updated regularly.

Update of 09.03.2020 - Rectorate cancels public events until 30 April

Studies, teaching, and general university services not affected / Two university employees stay at home as a precaution

Because of the dynamic development in the spread of the coronavirus, the Rectorate has adopted further precautionary measures.

As a precautionary measure and to prevent a possible spread of the disease, all public events of the university will be cancelled by 30 April. This regulation applies to events that are open to people who are not studying or working at the university (e.g. public lectures). For example, the ‘Kinder-Uni’ [Children's University], which was to take place on 13, 20, and 27 March, is being cancelled.
(Amendment of 13.03.): This regulation also applies to all events organised by external organisers on university premises and events involving schoolchildren.

Courses and other events belonging to regular studies and the everyday running of the university are not affected by this regulation (workshops, exams, etc.).

For academic event formats, also those including external guests (e.g. conferences, congresses), the organisers should carry out a formal risk assessment in each individual case together with the ‘Occupational Safety, Health, and Environmental Protection’ (AGUS) staff unit, and decide whether the event should take place (contact: coronavirus@uni-bielefeld.de).

In principle, official trips that are not urgently required should be cancelled. Employees should also question whether it is currently necessary to invite external persons who have to travel to Bielefeld to attend meetings or whether such invitations could possibly be postponed until a later date. In case of doubt, please consult your supervisor.

Apart from these measures, the Rectorate currently sees no reason to restrict regular work-related communication (meetings, sessions, etc.).

Through these regulations and recommendations, the rectorate’s mission is to do everything possible to prevent any spread of the coronavirus while simultaneously imposing as few restrictions as possible on research, teaching, and studies.

A reassessment - based on the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute - has also been carried out for risk countries. The university management has removed Japan from the list of countries to which special regulations for returnees and regulations concerning employment and studies apply.

Since Saturday, the first two confirmed infections with the coronavirus have been reported in Bielefeld. The Bielefeld authorities have researched contacts of the two infected persons and also asked these persons to stay at home as a precautionary measure. Among these people are also two employees of the university. To prevent rumours: the two had no direct contact with the infected person, currently show no symptoms and are not classified as suspected cases. The authorities are acting here purely as a precautionary measure in order to exclude risks of further spread as far as possible.

A team headed by the chancellor will continue to assess the situation on a daily basis.

Initial announcement

Initial Announcement

In December 2019, respiratory diseases caused by a previously unknown virus (coronavirus) first appeared in China.

Due to the increasing number of persons affected by the coronavirus outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared an international health emergency on 30 January, 2020.

According to the Robert Koch Institute, the current threat to the health of people living in Germany is high (as of 17.03.2020). Further cases, infection chains and outbreaks must be expected in Germany. However, this situation may change quickly as new information emerges. Further transmissions and chains of infection in Germany are possible, although the public health services are doing everything in their power to detect single infections as early as they can and thereby to stop the further spread of the virus as far as possible.

On 31 January, the Rectorate of Bielefeld University issued first recommendations and directives that were updated on 27 February, 9 March, 13 March and 17 March.

On 26 February – in response to first cases in NRW and a worsening international situation – the Chancellor Dr Stephan Becker set up a team to review the situation at the university. The team will now meet regularly and is composed of representatives of the different organizational units and functions of the university. The Chancellor is coordinating closely with the Rectorate and in communication with the responsible authorities.