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Summary of the central issues discussed in the live talk of 4 February 2021

1. Exam procedures for the winter semester 2020/21.

The protection of health and the academic progress of our students, who should lose as little time as possible, are the guiding principles for all decisions made.

It is our aim to conduct forthcoming exams in the best interest of everyone concerned and in line with criteria such as quality, reliability and fairness.

  • Taking account of the criteria mentioned above, examinations should be offered in a distance format instead of being classroom-based wherever possible.
  • Cases of written classroom-based exams which for specific reasons cannot be held in a distance format can be conducted on-campus and as scheduled.
  • This applies provided that a postponement of on-campus exams is not possible for legal or factual reasons or would be deemed unreasonable for the student. Thereby the following has to be taken account of. Renting additional premises at short notice for new examination dates cannot be guaranteed. As far as possible, students should not be expected to take exams, which factually belong to the winter semester 2020/21, in the following summer semester.

Before deciding on the format of an exam, the following criteria have to be considered each time.

  • Legal admissibility (in general: equal opportunity; in particular data protection and others)
  • Suitability for reviewing the accomplishment of learning objectives
  • Technical feasibility
  • Availability of infrastructure (i.e camera, printer)
  • Academic integrity

Announcement of exams, regulations and infection prevention

  • All examination boards are strongly urged to communicate dates for examinations at least two weeks in advance or to indicate that dates previously scheduled and announced can be maintained.
  • Strict rules, which all examiners/examination boards and students have to comply with, apply to the conduct of written on-campus exams. The guidelines on conducting on-campus exams can be found here https://www.dez5.uni-wuppertal.de/de/infos/plaene/praesenzveranstaltungen-unter-coronabedingungen.html
  • This shows that infection prevention is a top priority for everyone involved.
  • Examinees will be informed about the exact location of the respective examination hall and the current terms and regulations for exam procedures well in advance.

2. Specific regulations effective for exams in the winter semester.

Essentially, the facilitations granted for the summer semester 2020 will be continued and even expanded.

With regard to exams belonging to the winter semester 20/21 and the summer semester 2021 this implies the following.

  • All exams taken and failed are considered not taken. Thereby, it is irrelevant how many attempts to sit a limited repeatable exam were made. This also holds for all final theses and papers. Each incident of resitting an examination is considered to be a free attempt.
  • Withdrawal from an examination is permitted up to its start; missing an examination is not regarded as detrimental.
  • Examinations taken to improve grades will also be considered as not having been taken at the request of the respective student and in cases where examination regulations provide for them.
  • Examination facilitations 1 to 3 apply to all bachelor's and master's degree programs as well as to the Preliminary State Examination (staatliche Zwischenprüfung) and the First State Examination (Erstes Staatsexamen) in the field of food chemistry.

3. Specific questions to various aspects of the examination period.

Is it obligatory to wear a face covering during the entire exam or can they be removed as soon as the allocated seat has been taken?

Medical face masks are compulsory during the entire exam.

What about rules for breaks from wearing face coverings?

No breaks are planned. The face coverings can be briefly taken off for drinking and eating.

What about students who are exempt from wearing a face covering?

Students should apply for compensation of disadvantage to their respective examination board via the Central Examinations Office (ZPA), including a medical certificate, in good time prior to the examination. They will be offered a suitable alternative by taking the exam in a separate room, for example.

Can students visit toilets during an exam?

The examination boards decide if students will be allowed to the toilets during an exam. Depending on the situation, the invigilators determine which paths are to be followed in order to maintain the distance of 1.5 m as far as possible.

To a normal extent visits to the toilet are also permitted during online examinations. As usual, they will be noted down by the invigilators.

How will the university handle violations of anti-coronavirus measures during an exam?

Violations of the implemented regulations constitute a disruption of the orderly conduct of the examination and can be sanctioned on the basis of current examination regulations (as a rule § 8/9 of the examination regulations: failure to attend, withdrawal, cheating, ordinance violation)

How does an oral exam via Zoom work?

Procedures concerning the conduct of oral exams are subject of the regulations of the rectorate of 23 September 2020 (https://bscw.uni-wuppertal.de/pub/bscw.cgi/d12020768/am20093.pdf).

Why is the examination period not postponed to a later date?

This has several reasons. Postponed exams could lead to a higher workload for students in the future, in particular when lectures and exams are scheduled concurrently. Postponing in stages makes it impossible to plan exam procedures. University management can neither predict when on-campus examinations under customary conditions, i.e. much closer sitting, will be possible again nor can it, due to infection prevention measures (keep your distance, observe hygiene, wear a face covering) and examination halls which are hired externally, provide an arbitrarily large number of free rooms that would allow exams to be postponed again and again.

What about data protection in video exams via Zoom?

Data protection is ensured when using ZOOM via university accounts. By agreeing to the declaration provided by the Central Examinations Office (ZPA) you also agree to the use of one specific video conferencing system. This prevents examiners and students from switching to systems whose suitability has not been verified. The exclusive participation via the University ZOOM account ensures that the use of the software is based on the contracts that the University has concluded with the provider. - This is, for example, not the case with ZOOM guest accounts. – On the basis of European regulations, compliance with data protection can be ensured and unauthorized access to data streams is prevented. The disclaimer which is usually sent with the ZOOM link refers to conferences with external parties where virtual border crossings to third countries may occur (e.g. Great Britain).

What are future procedures if the lockdown is extended?

An extension of the lockdown under the current regulations will not have any effect on the scheduled examination formats and dates. If regulations should be tightened, which is currently rather unlikely, adjustments would be made at short notice and if necessary. In that case the government would have to provide the legal framework for universities to take appropriate actions, such as, for example, exempting the university from the obligation to facilitate graduation by the end of the semester in order to allow students of teacher training programs to start their preparatory period.

When will the amendment of the standard period of study (from 6 to 8 semesters) be included in official documents?

The adaption of the software is in progress. With the upcoming update, we expect that correct certificates can be created via StudiLöwe by March 2021.

What about deadlines concerning the transition from bachelor to master programs?

The deadlines for subsequently proving that admission requirements are fulfilled were adjusted and extended in accordance with the course of the pandemic (see 2nd rectorate amendment / 2. RektoratsO-Änderung AM02/21). Deadlines are also extended for students who were enrolled in the winter semester 2020/21 under the condition that they provide proof for a successful completion of their bachelor's course by 31 March 2021. Upon request (e-mail to the Office of Academic Affairs) and only once the deadline for fulfilling this condition (suspension of re-registration) will be postponed to the re-registration period for the winter semester 2021/22 which ends on 30 September 2021.

Students of Sport Sciences

The situation is particularly complicated with respect to the practical courses of sports studies. This holds for all sports science degree programs in the country.

The field of sports sciences at the University of Wuppertal is making every effort to create a range of alternatives to compensate for the cancelled courses and provide temporary solutions.

Further information can be obtained from the head of the degree program and the student council, who have been in close contact discussing the issue.

Questions on individual exam contexts

For concerns regarding specific examinations, please contact the respective examination boards.

Getting to the campus

The University of Wuppertal is in close contact with the public utility company of Wuppertal (WSW) in order to ensure the implementation of a suitable transport concept during the examination period. The public utility company supports the university with additional trips to the examination venues. This also applies to exams that take place in Solingen. The exact journey times can be found in the respective timetable information.

Unfortunately, accommodation cannot be organized by the university. If required, the university will issue certificates confirming a stay for non-touristic reasons. This can be done in two ways. For examinations which can be repeated with restrictions and therefore must be registered via the Central Examination Office (ZPA), please contact the ZPA. For examinations that can be repeated without restrictions, the respective examiners can issue a confirming certificate.

Statement on the General Students’ Committee (AStA) petition

The university management has duly noted the AStA's petition against the conduct of on-campus examinations.

Nonetheless, the university management and the deans have also received numerous responses from students who are explicitly in favor of on-campus examinations.

The university management adheres to the line that examinations should be transferred to other formats wherever possible. However, they are aware that this is not always feasible.

In cases where alternative formats are not possible, all students should be offered an on-campus examination to ensure they can progress in their studies, if possible without losing time.

4. Final Papers

With respect to any final papers or term papers, an extension of the submission deadline is possible and can be applied for. The known procedure remains unchanged. Students submit a substantiated application for an extension of the deadline to their responsible official in the Central Examinations Office (ZPA). The fact that university facilities, which are needed for finishing a thesis or a paper, are currently not accessible to the required extent (laboratories, library, etc.). could, for example, be a valid argument in such an application. The relevant forms are available on the websites of the respective degree programs. The required signature of the examiner is currently waived.

The chronological order set for the completion of pre-exam requirements and examinations as such has been suspended by the regulations of the rectorate dealing with the effects of the corona pandemic. If pre-exam requirements cannot be fulfilled before an examination due to the pandemic, participation in the examinations is still possible. The requirements must be subsequently fulfilled and indicated. Thereby, the focus is primarily on practical laboratory courses or on subject-related practical achievements. This passage can also be applied to final papers. When registering for a thesis, the student has to explain why and to what extend the pandemic has delayed the required preparatory work. The respective examination board decides in individual cases.

5. Prospects for the summer semester 2021

The university is currently planning a summer semester in hybrid mode, but is considering a possible return to mainly @Home in teaching. Depending on the development of the pandemic and resulting adjustments of legal regulations by the government, a final decision will be made in March. The eased regulations for students (free attempts, deadlines, withdrawal from exams) apply to the summer semester 2021, just as they do to the current winter semester 20/21.

The course catalogue will be activated in the week of 1 March. From then on, courses with a restricted number of participants can also be taken. The times of the courses will be fixed by then. Depending on the course of the pandemic, the course format may change during the semester (more distance or more attendance). However, the course times and allocations remain unaffected by this.

As of now, it is possible to re-register for the summer semester 2021 by transferring the semester fee. There is an important change, however. For the summer semester 2021, the re-registration deadline exceptionally ends on 15 March 2021.

6. Counseling Service

Due to the current situation which includes limited opportunities for face-to-face meetings, additional efforts through Uni@Home or unfamiliar exam arrangements, the psychological strain can be enormous. The Central Student Advisory and Counseling Centre (ZSB) offers psychological counseling and coaching via telephone once a week without prior appointment to all students who need help. However, you can also make an appointment in advance by mail or telephone.

Wednesday 10:00 to 11:30 am (0202 439-2595) or email to zsb{at}uni-wuppertal.de.

In addition, you can find online scripts on various psychological topics and helpful workshops on the following webpage: https://www.zsb.uni-wuppertal.de/de/beratung/psychologische-beratung.html

7. Student ticket

In the context of the current (non-)use of the semester ticket and questions about possible refunds, the AStA must refer to existing contracts that do not provide for a possible reclaim of the mobility fee despite the current situation. Regarding applications in cases of hardship (assumption of the mobility fee), students can confer with the AStA at any time. In the same way, applications for assumption of the mobility fee can be submitted any time.