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Information about corona virus

This page provides you with information about current measures being undertaken to contain the coronavirus outbreak and address frequently asked questions. 

Dear students of Osnabrueck University,

At this point, we would like to give you up-to-date information, answers and recommendations on questions about your studies and your exams at Osnabrueck University. Please inform yourself urgently about subject-specific questions on the pages of the departments!

We try to keep this information up to date constantly and attempt to answer as many current questions as possible that affect a large number of you on this channel.
Please note that this may result in daily changes.

  • From Thursday, 19th March 2020 up to Sunday, 19th April 2020 all main and side entrances to the buildings of Osnabrueck University are closed.
  • All examinations with attendance – including doctoral exams – are cancelled until 19th April 2020.
  • Operations in the university canteens and cafeterias are ceased until 19th April 2020.

I. Questions about studying in general

Is the summer semester 2020 still taking place?

A change / adjustment of the semester dates and the period of courses for the summer semester 2020 is currently not planned. It is planned to start offering a digital course provision from 14th April 2020 until approximately 1st May 2020. It is currently not possible to make reliable statements as to when the face-to-face courses will start, as it is not predictable how the situation will develop. It was therefore advised to switch teaching and exams to digital formats. Please pay attention to the information provided by the department of your respective degree program.

Is the availability of the student service guaranteed?

If questions regarding the study have not already been answered by the FAQs you can contact the Infoline in the StudiOS building under + 49 (0) 541 969 7777 or send inquiries to studios@uni-osnabrueck.de. Inquiries sent to  studierendensekretariat@uni-osnabrueck.de will of course be answered. The staff of the Admissions Office attempts to process your request without major delays but ask for your indulgence if this is not done to the usual extent due to increased inquiries. In case you have individual questions about examinations, please contact the examination office responsible for you or your examiner directly.

Can applications be submitted to the Admissions Office via e-mail?

Yes, applications can be submitted via e-mail. If forms are available for the respective applications (e.g. for leave of absence) digitally, they must be used, signed and sent in pdf- format as an e-mail to studierendensekretariat@uni-osnabrueck.de.

Can the Campuscard be validated and issued?

Due to the closure of the buildings, the Campuscard cannot be validated, issued or sent by post until 19th April 2020. Students are advised to print out their enrollment certificate as well as the information from the Presidium from 19th March 2020 about the closure and to keep it with them so that, if necessary, proof of the existing student status can be provided.

Please note: According to current information from the Verkehrsgemeinschaft Osnabrück (VOS), they will continue to recognize the enrollment certificate as a semester ticket. If any problems occur, please contact the AStA first, as this is the contractual partner of the transport company. Update by the AStA: You may also use the federal statewide semester ticket. In April (!) the combination of your enrollment certificate and a valid official identity document with photograph will be valid, like in the traffic zone of the Verkehrsgemeinschaft Osnabrück (VOS)! To the information of the federal statewide semester ticket

Are certificates issued for health insurance companies, pension insurance institutions, etc.?

Due to the current situation, the usual certificates for health insurance companies and pension insurance institutions cannot be printed and sent by post.
Until 19th April 2020, the dispatch will be made digitally in pdf-format. The additional delivery of a print version will be made after 19th April 19 2020 upon request only.

How must proof of a disability or serious illness with effect of extension of study be provided in the application for exemption of the long-term study fees?

You can find information on long-term study fees at the following link: Costs of studying

In case an official medical certificate cannot be submitted due to the current overload of the responsible authorities, long-term study fees will be exempted if the perpetuation or the presence of a serious illness with an impact on the duration of the study period is proven by sending a simple medical certificate in pdf format to studierendensekretariat@uni-osnabrueck.de. The official medical certificate must be submitted immediately, but no later than 30th September 2020. If the submission is not made by 30th September 2020, the long-term study fees for the summer semester 2020 are due immediately. A reregistration for the winter semester 2020/2021 will be made if the long-term study fees for the summer semester 2020 have been paid in addition to the usual fees and dues for the winter semester 2020/2021. As far as a dun has already been issued to charge long-term study fees for the 2020 summer semester, the above applies accordingly.

What are the deadlines for submitting the Bachelor's certificate for a provisional Master's enrollment?

In case you were only provisionally enrolled in the master's program in the winter semester 2019/2020 due to the lack of a bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification, please note the following:

The temporary cancellation of all examinations with attendance from 17th March 2020 to 19th April 2020 has led to increased inquiries and uncertainty regarding observance with the submission deadline and the need to present the certificate. To ensure that you do not suffer any disadvantages from the cancelled exams, we are extending the deadline for submitting the Bachelor's certificate or equivalent qualification as follows:

  • You must obtain your bachelor's degree or equivalent by 30th September 2020 at the latest. The provisional admission expires if you have not obtained the Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification by the aforementioned date, i.e. not all academic achievements required for your degree are available.
  • If you have obtained your bachelor’s degree or equivalent qualification by 30th September 2020, the certificate of this degree must be submitted to the Admissions Office of Osnabrueck University by 15th October 2020 the latest. With the submission in due time, you will be enrolled in the master’s program
  • In case the certificate is not submitted by 15th October 2020 and you are responsible for this, you will be deregistered by law after this period has ended. If the legal consequence is to be breached, you must tell the Admissions Office in good time why you are not responsible for the missing certificate.

Please also continue to note the additional information on the provisional access authorization or provisional enrollment in a master's program in the absence of a bachelor's degree under the following link: Infos zum vorläufigen Masterstudium (in German).

Can an application for a leave of absence for the summer semester 2020 be withdrawn even though the leave of absence has already been approved?

Yes, it is still possible to withdraw the already approved application for a leave of absence for the summer semester 2020. Please send a corresponding informal application by 31st May 2020 to studierendensekretariat@uni-osnabrueck.de. Please note that you will not be re-registered for the summer semester 2020 until the full semester fee has been transferred to the account of the University of Osnabrück.

What do admitted but not yet enrolled foreign students need to take into consideration?

Foreign students who have been admitted to a degree program for the summer semester 2020 at Osnabrueck University, but who have not enrolled due to the current situation, have the opportunity to enroll for the winter semester 2020/2021 without re-applying for the desired course of study at Osnabrueck University. The affected students should contact studentsoffice@uni-osnabrueck.de by 15th April 2020 if they wish to "postpone" their current admission for the summer semester 2020 to the winter semester 2020/2021. A "postponement" of the admission granted for the summer semester 2020 beyond the winter semester 2020/2021 is not possible.

II. Questions regarding examinations

Are there alternatives to examinations with attendance that are cancelled from 17th March 2020 to 19th April 2020?

The cancellation of examinations with attendance implicates that written exams, oral exams, presentations and similar exam formats do not take place generally.  However, they should be made possible in exceptional cases, for example if appointments for the recruitment to the teaching practice placement / legal traineeship have to be met, e.g. by holding video conferences. In individual cases, oral examinations can take place digitally under the responsibility of the respected subject. This has to be agreed with the respective examiners. There is no obligation on the part of the examiners to conduct video conferences.

Should students unsubscribe from relevant examinations with attendance themselves?

No, students should not unsubscribe from the face-to-face exams themselves. The opt-outs from examinations with attendance are made by the respective examination offices of the departments. However, this only touches on clearly affected types of examination and those that have been saved as part of the method of examination, e.g. written exams, oral exams, seminar papers or (artistic) presentations.

Is it possible to switch to other types of examination?

Basically, it is possible to switch to another type of examination if the module description offers different types of examination. However, the respective regulations of the departments must be observed regarding the specific structure in your department and the procedure (i.e. who you have to contact, where to make any applications, etc.). The same applies if, in exceptional cases, you want to switch to an examination form that is not provided in the module description.

Are online exams / video conferences offered?

See explanations for question 1.

Will the processing times of final theses, term papers, seminar papers, etc. be extended?

All possibilities should be used in the interest of the students.
Please see the following for further guidance:

Final theses ‒ deadline extensions for the submission can be granted if e.g. literature can no longer be borrowed on site because of closed libraries. Find out at the website of the university library (in German) alternative ways to provide print literature. Extension options also apply in general for work based on current data collection, which is currently no longer possible in many areas. In these cases, the topic can also be readjusted if necessary. If necessary, experimental work can be replaced by literature work. Applications for deadline extensions and changes of the topic must be made informally to the examination office responsible for the respective subject. The department responsible for the subject also regulates everything else.

Term papers, seminar papers, etc. – Basically, the above explanations for dissertations apply. Here, in particular, it must be examined to what extent the closure of the libraries has consequences for the topic of the respective work. The examiners should also consider whether it is not possible to write good or very good term papers, etc. based on limited literature, in which the students show that they have the intended competences (for example, if the last academic achievement is concerned and an extension would have the effect of prolonging the study time).

What are the requirements for the layout / form of final theses, term papers, etc.?

As a general rule, dissertations must be submitted in printed and case bound form. If observance with the form is currently not possible, the final theses must be submitted as a pdf-document within the deadline (initially) including the declaration of independent writing of the bachelor or master thesis. The printed and case bound form as well as the other required documents must be submitted later within a reasonable period. The same applies to term papers or seminar papers.

Will final documents be issued and made available?

Due to the current situation, certificates may not be issued or sent in the required form. The bodies responsible for signing the certificates will explicitly point out this fact on request, which should be sent to the examination office responsible for the respective subject or to the Records Management Office PATMOS, stating the course of study and stating the final grade, confirming successful completion. It is also confirmed that the certificate will be delivered as soon as normal operation permits. Proof of the course examination, which is saved in the university system, is also attached. The cover letter and performance overview will then be made available to the applicants digitally in pdf-format.

For the extended submission deadlines for the master's certificates for the recruitment process in the practical training for teaching positions in general education schools for the first half of the 2020/2021 school year, see also: https://www.mk.niedersachsen.de/download/128257 (in German).

What rules apply to internships?

School internships that had to be canceled due to the closure of schools, as well as internships outside of schools that could not be completed due to the corona virus, will not be continued. Information on any compensations that need to be provided is available from the respective internship officer. More detailed information on school internships is available on the website of the Center for Teacher Education (ZLB) (in German). The respective contact persons of the ZLB can also provide information.

Please note: The practice block belonging to GHR300 has not been canceled so far, but has been suspended until 1st May 2020.

Which requirements exist for the layout / form of dissertations?

Dissertations can also be submitted as a PDF document.

 


 

Update March 30

Vollzug des Infektionsschutzgesetzes (updated version)

Update March 25

Residency-related info by the Foreigner’s Office

We have recently learned important information concerning new registrations in Osnabrück as well as how expiring visas and/or residence permits will be treated by the Foreigner’s Office. Generally, on-site appointments have been cancelled until further notice. Instead, all consultations will be offered online. As a result, the following guidelines apply:

  1. If you are new to Osnabrück and hold an EU passport, you do NOT need to apply for a residence permit. Instead, you merely have to register by sending (1) a registration form (registration form how-to), (2) a copy of your passport or identity card and (3) a so-called „Wohnungsgeberbestätigung“ (a document provided to you by your landlord – if you live in a student dorm, you will receive this document automatically) to auslaenderbehoerde@osnabrueck.de.
     
  2. If you are new to Osnabrück, you hold a non-EU passport and you have a visa for the entire duration of your stay, you do NOT need to apply for a residence permit. Instead, you merely have to register by sending (1) a registration form (registration form how-to), (2) a copy of your passport, (3) a copy of your visa and (4) a so-called „Wohnungsgeberbestätigung“ (a document provided to you by your landlord – if you live in a student dorm, you will receive this document automatically) to auslaenderbehoerde@osnabrueck.de.
     
  3. If you are new to Osnabrück, you hold a non-EU passport and you do not have a visa for the entire duration of your stay, you DO need to apply for a residence permit. To that end, you will need to send your application along with all supporting documents in an email to auslaenderbehoerde@osnabrueck.de. The documents you will need to provide are as follows:

    a. Registration form (registration form how-to)

    b. Copy of passport

    c. Copy of entry stamp in passport (if entry into Germany was possible without a visa)

    d. Copy of visa, if applicable

    e. Copy of health insurance confirmation

    f. Copy of enrollment certificate

    g. Copy of proof of finance (blocked account info, scholarship confirmation, etc.)

    h. Copy of admission letter for studies in Osnabrück

    i. Copy of “Wohnungsgeberbestätigung”
     

  4. If you are currently in Osnabrück and your visa or residence permit expires anytime between March 18th and June 30th, 2020, you do NOT need to apply for an extension. Instead, please print out this Allgemeinverfügung and keep it with you at all times. This document serves as an extension of your current residence permit until June 30th. Do check back regularly in order to find out when exactly face-to-face appointments and applications for an extension will be possible. Naturally, if we hear any additional information, we will keep you posted.
     
  5. If you have moved to Osnabrück from another German town which you were previously registered in, you do not need to re-register between March 18th and June 30th, 2020.

As always: if you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at malte.paolo.benjamins@uos.de.

Update March 23

Schreiben des Ministerpräsidenten
Vollzug des Infektionsschutzgesetzes

Update March 19

Closure of the university buildings

From today, Thursday, March 19, to Sunday, April 19, 2020, all main entrances / side entrances to the buildings of the University of Osnabrück in the city center and on the Westerberg will be closed and can only be opened with transponders.

Student service / Campuscard

When the university buildings are closed, the Campuscard will no longer be validated or issued until further notice.

The StudiOS information line is still busy and can be reached at 969 7777. In addition, requests can be directed to studierendensekretariat@uni-osnabrueck.de

News from Student Services

The Osnabrück Student Services publishes up-to-date information (in German) on closings with regard to the corona virus. This also applies to the canteens.

As you can see from the current media coverage, the situation regarding the further spread of the Corona Virus is critical. So far, it has not been possible to convince the population sufficiently of the need to consistently reduce social contacts. Even in the university, some larger groups of students used classrooms or foyers of buildings to meet. We are therefore forced to take further measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus within the scope of our official possibilities.

Closure of the university buildings

From today, Thursday, March 19, to Sunday, April 19, 2020, all main entrances / side entrances to the buildings of the University of Osnabrück in the city center and on the Westerberg will be closed and can only be opened with transponders.

During this period, there is no possibility for students to enter the university buildings. Employees continue to have access to the buildings and their workplace via the transponder authorizations. The underground car park at the EW building is also locked. Here too, access is only possible with the appropriate transponder authorization. If access authorization is missing and absolutely necessary, please contact the Facility Management department via the head of your organizational unit.

The closure means that the previously accessible book return machine in the shared library building of the university and the university of applied science on the Westerberg (building 96) will be closed this evening at 6 p.m. Book returns by physical mail are always possible, in addition, the options for extending the loan periods have been expanded so that due returns are only due after the currently agreed closing date of April 19.

When the university buildings are closed, the Campuscard will no longer be validated or issued until further notice. Students are advised to print out the enrollment certificate as well as this e-mail and keep it with them, so that, if necessary, v. a. proof of student status can also be provided in local public transport.

The StudiOS information line is still busy and can be reached at 969 7777. In addition, requests can be directed to studierendensekretariat@uni-osnabrueck.de  as usual. The staff of the student secretariat endeavor to deal with the issues without major friction losses, but ask for leniency now if this is not done to the usual extent due to the increased mail volume.

Team building / social contacts

The President's Cabinet once again warmly appeals to all students and all employees to reduce social contacts as much as possible, both in the private and university sectors. As the head of an organizational unit, seriously ask which work can actually only be done in presence and enable mobile work wherever possible.

In order to keep all work areas fully functional, we ask you to check whether you can form teams that work independently of one another, i.e. without contact with each other. The President's Cabinet also divided the university management into two teams; one team is present, the other is mobile. There is no longer any personal contact between the teams. Most of the sessions can be easily held as telephone / video conferences.

We are working flat out to clarify numerous issues relating to employment law that have arisen in detail. Yesterday, video conferencing with the deans and management of the administration and central units clarified many questions. In the coming week we will be able to send further information to the dean's offices and administration.

If a curfew is imposed, all functions of the university must continue in minimal operation. As head of organizational units, the President would like to remind you once again of the lists that list the people who absolutely must be present. These lists are for your own preparation for such a situation.

Finally, the appeal that you are currently hearing and reading everywhere: Please take the situation very seriously, because it is indeed serious.

So far, the university has continued to function in many areas thanks to the unbroken and impressive motivation and flexibility of its employees. You, dear students, endure the difficult situation for you with the greatest patience and most of you contact the responsible dean of studies and teachers with your questions.The President thanks all of you. Let's get through this together.

Update March 17

Canceled: Entrance tests for foreign language courses at the language center

On account of the Covid-19 pandemic, Osnabrück University has canceled all tests and exams. This also applies to the Language Center's placement tests for all modern foreign languages on 31 March and for German as a foreign language on 8 April.

With respect to our foreign language courses, we have therefore decided to enable registration for the summer term of 2020 without previous verification of language skills. Before registering, please consult the descriptors of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for self-assessment. Please find attached the necessary documents in English and German. If you have already successfully completed one of our courses, please register for a class on the next level.

Feel free to contact the Language Center if you require assistance with the interpretation of the grids or additional consultation.

Message to our partner institutions, exchange students and degree-seeking students

Amidst the global effort to curtail the spread of COVID-19, we strive to present to you clear, concise and factual information as well as a number of different solutions with your best interest in mind. Despite a high degree of uncertainty, we therefore try to be as specific as possible in order to enable you/your students to make qualified decisions. Should you have additional questions, never hesitate to get in touch with us.

Travel Restrictions

The European Union announced a closure of its external borders for 30 days effective today. This will make travelling to Germany very difficult (if not impossible) for many of you. Other countries have implemented their own travel restrictions; others may do so without notice. Generally, travelling appears to be an ill-advised undertaking at the moment. Given the uncertainty of the situation, we ask you to refrain from making any financial commitments (such as booking further plane tickets, etc.) and instead do what is often most difficult in uncertain times: to wait until the smoke has cleared.

Welcome Week

The Welcome Week will not take place. Likewise, there will be no central arrival day. However, rest assured that you will not be left alone with regard to taking your first steps in Osnabrück once you arrive! Instead of our tried-and-true Welcome Week, we will resort to individual solutions tailored to each and every one of you. For now, we ask you to tell us about your arrival plan only once you have a confirmed plane connection. This will likely not be before mid-April. If you are certain you will arrive sooner (e.g. because you are in Germany already), please let us know.

Virtual enrolment & taking online classes from your home country

We are currently exploring ways of enrolling you from your home country in order to enable you to participate in virtual lectures. In order to do so, you will need to provide our admissions office with (1) written proof that you have transfered the semester fees and (2) written proof that you have health insurance as recognized by a German public health insurance provider. We have been in touch with local health insurance companies and have established a possible way for you to provide the admissions office with these documents. We will contact exchange students and degree-seeking students separately with specific instructions on what to do.

Postponement of your semester

If you wish to postpone your semester, we would like to reassure you that this is possible. We will contact you in a separate email later today asking you to provide us with information about your plans. We will sort out the details (renewed nomination; parity negotiations, etc.) with partner universities at a later stage.
If you have signed a rental contract with the Studentenwerk or have entered other obligations we are unaware of (blocked account, health insurance, etc.), we advise you to contact these institutions directly. While we will most certainly advocate on your behalf, do note that the Studentenwerk is a separate entity from the university.

Again, do not hesitate to contact us if any questions persist. Your email is seen, your call is heard, and your inquiry is valuable to us!

Further far-reaching regulations for the university

Oral exams

All attendance exams will be canceled by April 19, 2020. This means that written exams, oral exams, presentations or similar exam formats cannot take place.

Doctoral exams

Doctoral exams often take place with the participation of people from different universities and organizational units of our university. Therefore, no doctoral exams should take place until April 19, 2020. A detailed discussion of this issue will take place tomorrow as part of a video conference of all (study) deans.

Office hours

All office hours are canceled and can only be continued as telephone advice or online advice. The only exception at the moment is the Student Secretariat's info point. The info point is staffed from Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. to validate and issue the Campus Card.

Board operation

The Presidium and the (study) deans will agree on how to deal with committees in a video conference tomorrow. Basically, all committee meetings should be postponed whenever possible. If possible, important decisions should already be transferred to a circulation procedure. In addition, we ask all responsible units to check which committees can possibly be held as a video conference.

Mobile work

Wherever possible, mobile working should be enabled or teleworking used. I refer to the information from March 12, 2020.

Dissolution of social contact points

A central task of all of us, employees and students, is to identify social contact points and, if possible, to resolve them. Please take a critical look at your surroundings: Where do the contacts change frequently (qualitative risk) and do numerous people meet (quantitative risk)? Such meetings should be avoided. If they cannot be avoided, please strictly follow the highest hygiene regulations. Basically, the following applies: where a few, always the same people meet, there is less danger than with changing people (groups). Meetings should only be held if they are absolutely unavoidable! Please do not make spontaneous visits to organizational units, always coordinate beforehand by telephone!

Hygiene

We should all never tire of referring to hygiene measures again and again. In addition to the well-known standards of the Robert Koch Institute, the avoidance of social contacts must also be considered as the most important new measure in this regard. Another tip: Wear gloves (e.g. cloth gloves) in public spaces. The Queen is our role model! Take off your gloves when you are back in your work or private environment and still do not reduce hand washing!

Temporary closure of the university

We expect our university to be temporarily closed in the next few days. The relevant ministry has yet to respond. This would mean that the campus may then no longer be entered; system-relevant persons are excluded from this regulation (e.g. persons who work in core areas of administration or supervisors of long-term scientific experiments). For this case, please create emergency plans now. In these plans, as the head of an organizational unit, you should specify which people must be present at the university to fulfil the most important tasks.

General decree City of Osnabrück (German only)

Update March 14

Information on Examinations

The situation with respect to COVID 19 (“coronavirus”) remains in a state of flux. This is giving rise to a number of questions. We are working tirelessly to answer them. Recent days have seen a particularly large number of questions regarding examinations.

The principle continues to be: Examinations should continue to take place, but in a variety of assessment options. This is not problematic if examinations are to be taken online, as individual oral exams, small-group examinations or as term papers (with regard to the latter, it might be necessary to make exceptions to normal regulations because the library cannot currently be accessed). If you are an examiner, please check to see if a different type of examination is possible as an alternative to a sit-down examination. To this end, it might be necessary to make changes to examinations regulations in certain cases.

Sit-down examinations pose a particular challenge. On the one hand, they might require potentially large numbers of people to gather together in one place; on the other hand, large numbers of students are dependent on receiving their examination results quickly, some of them for their livelihood. In addition, some students might be disadvantaged if the course content is only examined after a considerable period of time has elapsed before they can take their exam. Nevertheless, it should be possible to keep the risk of infection to an absolute minimum if a few simple precautions are taken. These include washing your hands frequently and comprehensively and observing basic hygienic precautions when coughing or sneezing, and maintaining a good distance between the examinees. In light of the current situation, we believe it to be justifiable at an institutional level to cancel all face-to-face courses and to keep all other kinds of contact to a minimum, but to continue with examinations.

But the most important issue for you as students is that none of you should be disadvantaged if you do not go to one of your examinations. Some students are extremely worried about the state of their health. In the current situation in and around Osnabrück, there is no compelling reason for concern, but if you are worried, then you should not feel obliged to take an examination or submit examination coursework. For examiners and the administrators of examinations, this means that students not appearing for exams should be treated the same way as those who are officially excused because of illness. One way of handling this would be to offer replacement times, for example at the end of the semester (we are also working on the issue of set examination blocks). Deadlines for students withdrawing from examinations will not be upheld. We are currently working on a list of all planned examinations (a big thanks to VirtUOS!) and will, with a little luck, have a broad overview of the situation by Sunday morning. It will then be much easier for us to offer our support in individual cases. Our thanks also go to the room administrators, who have contributed greatly to keeping group sizes down to a minimum!

Even if the spread of infections in the municipality and district of Osnabrück has so far not led to the blanket cancellation of every event, meaning that large-scale events can continue to go ahead, we must work on the basis that these conditions are likely to change. We must all be prepared for this. As soon as examination types such as sit-down examinations are no longer possible according to the guidance of the City of Osnabrück, then we will probably have to withdraw these types of examination. As things currently stand, however, we have not yet reached that stage.

Update March 13

University Sport: Due to the current situation, all university sports courses in the so-called Frühstarterprogram [Early Starter Programme] have been cancelled. More Info

University Libraries: Following the recommendation of the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture, Osnabrück University’s senior administrators and the library administration have decided to close all of the university’s library facilities between Saturday 14 March and 19 April for all on-site use. More Info

Information for all Lecturers

As already mentioned in yesterday’s email from the President’s office regarding the challenges posed by the COVID 19 outbreak, we would like to provide you with the following guidelines for using digital teaching methods as an alternative to face-to-face teaching.

In the coming summer semester 2020, compulsory attendance for students will be dispensed with at least for part of the semester. At the current time, it remains our goal to use digital teaching methods to reduce the effect of course cancellations. In light of the pre-existing, comprehensive and long-standing expertise at the university, we view the current situation as an opportunity to push forward with the development of digital teaching. By using digital media, course teachers can transform their courses into a digital format with relatively little effort, so that scheduled courses can be maintained and continued even with less face-to-face time. This should make a significant contribution to slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Osnabrück University is comparatively well-prepared for this situation. The Stud.IP learning management system is in use for almost all scheduled courses at Osnabrück University. Professors and lecturers can use Stud.IP to upload information and files for their students for each of their courses. The Stud.IP module “Courseware” also makes it possible to turn online teaching materials into self-study courses for the students with relatively little effort. These can consist of texts, videos and short tests. Stud.IP also offers the possibility to record videos using the Opencast video management system. Students can also set up study groups themselves in Stud.IP in order to collaborate online. You can also use Stud.IP to access further services which you can use for digital teaching.

If you would like to get an overview of the potential technical or teaching applications described in the following, we would be happy to help you. Please arrange for an appointment at your convenience with our specialist advisors by telephone (+49 541 969 6666) or by Mail.

Recording Courses using Opencast:

Osnabrück University currently has 21 lecture theatres equipped with the technology for recording lectures. The recordings have an automatic time-control mechanism and therefore take place with a minimum of effort on the part of the lecturer. The recording is exclusively accessible for the students registered for the respective course in Stud.IP. Thanks to the high level of automation and availability of servers and storage resources, Osnabrück University has considerable available capacity for recording lectures.

The following rooms can be used to record lectures:
City centre: Schloß Aula, 01/E01, 01/B01, 11/212, 11/213, 15/E07, 15/E10, 15/E16, 15/128, 22/B01, 41/112, 44/E03, 44/E04
Westerberg: 32/102, 32/110, 35/E01, 35/E16, 35/E25, 66/E33, 93/E07, 93/E31

Recording Screencasts with Opencast Studio:

In time for the start of the coming semester, the new software “Opencast Studio” will be available through Stud.IP. This is a web-based portal which you can use to record your own computer screen and upon request a camera image without having to install additional software onto your pc. The computer should meet the usual performance requirements and have a current version of Firefox or Google installed on it. After making a recording in Opencast Studio you can upload the video onto your own computer and make the recording available to the students in your Stud.IP course using the available Opencast server.

Osnabrück University also has sufficient capacity for this software to enable these kinds of recordings to be made. The investment of energy on the part of the lecturer is somewhat higher in this case because you must know how to use the recording technology for making videos. The positive aspect is that you can make recordings anywhere that has a sufficiently fast network connection. We recommend using Opencast Studio to make shorter videos on individual topics and to record longer lectures in the especially equipped lecture theatres or in the available video studios.

Making Recordings in a Video Studio:

Osnabrück University uses the video conference services of the DFN. This includes the DFNconf service for video conferences as well as Adobe Connect. Due to the current crisis, these services are currently running at full capacity, but efforts are underway to increase capacities and to ease the situation. The DFN recommends conducting video conferences at times with a lower server load, i.e. before 10am or after 3pm. Osnabrück University is currently looking into whether additional internal resources can be made available for video conferences.

Further guidance and current information on the above services can be accessed on the websites of the Rechenzentrum and virtUOS

Update March 13

Message to our partner institutions and incoming exchange students

Our intentions with this piece of information are twofold: firstly, to reassure you that we look forward to welcoming you or your students to Osnabrück – and secondly, to inform you about COVID-19’s impact on Osnabrück University as well as our responses that seek to ensure the safety and well-being of all members of our university.

Rest assured that we will continue to monitor the situation very closely and are following advice and guidelines given by the Robert-Koch-Institut and the World Health Organization in an attempt to limit and slow down the spread of the virus. With a total population of close to 8 million, Lower Saxony (the federal state that Osnabrück is located in) has had just over 100 confirmed cases. As of this email, there have been no confirmed cases at Osnabrück University. Naturally, we remain watchful and are ready to act should this dynamic situation change.

As a protective measure, events with more than 1000 attendees have been cancelled. Furthermore, while our summer semester is expected to commence as scheduled, all on-campus face-to-face lectures have been cancelled until 01 May 2020. Instead, other course formats will be offered. We currently assume our Welcome Week to take place as scheduled, however we will most likely adapt the format of our events by limiting large group settings altogether. You/your students will be updated continuosly. Our Summer Schools are expected to take place in July/August as planned. If you enter Germany from a non-risk-area, we have not received an indication that you should rearrange your travel plans.

However, should you enter Germany from a risk area as defined by the Robert-Koch-Institut, we have no choice but to enforce special regulations set forth by our regional authorities. These regulations require you to not enter university-owned buildings within 14 days of your arrival. In order to provide you with options on how to move forward, please consider the following actions:

  1. You could leave your home country early and not wait for our arrival day on April 6th. That way, you could arrive in Osnabrueck, settle in, wait 14 days and then participate in our Welcome Week as scheduled. If this is a feasible option for you, we will most certainly help you with regard to finding suitable accommodation.
  2. While we understand that these may not be the most vacation-prone times, spending 14 days between your departure and your arrival in Osnabrück may also be an option. Departing from a country or a region deemed safe after those 14 days have passed will make it possible for us to host you in our buildings after you’ve arrived in Osnabrück.
  3. Arriving later than planned would be possible as well, however it is unclear at this time how long these measures will have to be enforced. Judging by the current schedule of our summer semester, an arrival date before April 27th would likely be in your best interest. 
  4. If you do arrive on April 6th (our official arrival day), we could organize a seperate Welcome Week for you 14 days after you’ve entered Germany.

If you are a student scheduled to start your studies this summer semester and you currently reside in a risk area, please tell us how you wish to proceed until Wednesday, March 18th by sending an email to Malte Paolo Benjamins.

Additionally, we would ask you to reflect on your important role in minimizing the spread of COVID-19 by exercising special caution in your social interaction with others. Please adhere to protocols and standards as established by the World Health Organization:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water
  • Maintain a distance of at least 1 metre (3 feet) between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. This is especially important since a university is a large institution and viruses can potentially spread very fast.
  • Practice respiratory hygiene by covering your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue when coughing or sneezing. Make sure that you wash your hands, or dispose of the used tissue, immediately after coughing or sneezing;
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you develop a fever, cough and difficulty breathing within 14 days of your arrival, seek medical attention and call in advance. If you need assistance finding a doctor or if you have trouble communicating in German and/or English, please reach out to us.

Lastly, we wish to reassure you that despite the current situation and these necessary measures, we look forward to welcoming you/your students to Osnabrück!

Information for employees

As you may have already heard, schools and daycare centers will be closed on Monday. Therefore, securing childcare will be a major challenge for some of you until the Easter holidays. We ask you as an employee and you as a supervisor to find pragmatic solutions together in such cases.

Basically, based on civil service regulations, we assume that care for children under the age of 12 must be ensured. This is particularly true for children who need special help.

The following should be considered:

1. First, if possible, use the flexible working hours options and look for other alternative childcare options.

2. If possible, use the teleworking and mobile working. Here we refer to the President's email from March 12, 2020.

3. If other childcare is not possible and the measures mentioned under No. 1 and No. 2 cannot be implemented, work can be exempted by continuing to pay the wages according to § 29 TV-L or special leave with continued payment according to § 9a in conjunction with § 11 Nds. SUrlVO are granted.

This initially applies up to a maximum of the beginning of the Easter holidays in the respective federal state.

If after considering all other alternatives the only remaining option is to exempt employees from their duties, their respective superiors should please inform Alexandra Zurlutter (for salaried employees) or Heike Seidel (for civil servants) informally via email about the exemption.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Stefanie Prieß, Tel. 4934.

Update March 12

The situation regarding the spread of the “COVID 19” virus (“coronavirus”) is in a state of constant flux. As an institution in which many thousands of people come together every day to go about their business, the onus is upon us to adopt a position with respect to this matter even if it is unclear how the situation is likely to develop.  

In Lower Saxony and in the municipality and district of Osnabrück, the rate of infection is still relatively small. The threat to people who are otherwise healthy also seems to be relatively limited. The position we are forced to take is however a systemic one. How can the spread of infection be slowed across society as a whole, so that our health care system can continue to cope with the situation? Osnabrück University carries a burden of responsibility for this question which we cannot ignore.

The President’s cabinet has therefore agreed to take the following measures:

 

  1. No face-to-face on-campus courses will take place at Osnabrück University until 01 May 2020. Our summer semester will begin as planned but the course formats will have to be changed. Professors and lecturers have various ways of doing this ranging from virtual lectures to online conferences. Classic formats including organization and the allocation of work to students by email are also still possible. In the coming days, all professors and lecturers will receive an information email from VirtUOS setting out the range of virtual teaching options available to you. Please, as a seminar leader, consider – especially in respect of courses in which attendance is mandatory such as practical lab sessions – whether it might be possible to postpone the courses affected. If you as a student think of good ideas for reorganizing the course sessions where attendance is not mandatory, please feel free to suggest them to your professor or lecturer and lend them your support in organizing virtual courses. Of course we cannot formulate suitable guidelines for all possible scenarios, something for which we apologize. As things stand, these events only affect the first two sessions for most scheduled courses; as April progresses we will be able to gauge how the situation is progressing. Let’s try and find solutions together!
     
  2. Examinations should take place as planned. Please ensure that students are seated at some distance from each other. In groups of more than 50 students, the examination should take place in several adjacent rooms at the same time. All examinees should observe the basic rules of hygiene! But this clearly goes without saying in your case (the soap and towel consumption at our university has now more than doubled!).
     
  3. External Events. Now as before: all international events and all events with more than 1000 participants have been cancelled. All other events should be critically assessed to see whether they are absolutely necessary, especially if they involve more than 100 people. The president’s cabinet is already in contact with almost all event organizers; if you have not yet heard from us, please contact the head of the president’s office, Claudia Kirchner. It might be necessary to set out more extensive controls for events in the coming days.
     
  4. Travel to and from Germany. Travel on university business to high-risk areas (constantly updated list of current high-risk areas) will not be permitted, as before. You should only travel to other destinations abroad if absolutely necessary. The situation is also in a state of flux abroad and you should take into account that you might have difficulties entering other countries, especially outside Europe. Further areas can also be designated as high-risk areas while you are away, something that might prove problematic for you after you return to Germany. Guests who have been in a high-risk area in the last 14 days cannot be hosted; guests from abroad must take into account that they might have problems when they attempt to return home. Students from high-risk areas must also wait 14 days upon their return before they participate in university life again and are required to register with the university doctor. We will be contacting our future overseas international students by email. 
     
  5. Are you feeling ill? If you should fall ill, if a fellow student or a colleague in your organizational unit falls ill, or if you or any other people around you has had contact with an infected person, please contact the  university’s doctor Dr. Henning Allmers immediately. He will take immediate action in collaboration with the local health authorities!
     
  6. Central Information Meeting for Deans and Heads of the Organizational Units. Large-scale meetings are currently not possible. Nevertheless, it is important at the current time to maintain dialogue.  This coming Wednesday we would therefore like to invite all deans and heads of the organizational units to two separate information meetings with the president’s cabinet and our university doctor (invitation to follow). This meeting will allow us to discuss any challenges for which we have not yet found a solution and forge plans together. Please understand that we must keep the number of people involved in these meetings as small as possible. Students will be informed of the outcomes through the dean for students and/or their lecturers; schools will be informed by their deans, and other organizational units by their departmental heads.
     
  7. Teleworking/Mobile Working. In accordance with § 7 of the work agreement on trust-based working hours for academic staff, there are existing frameworks for completing work duties at an alternative location. Further regulation of this matter by your supervisor is therefore unnecessary. You can therefore undertake your work responsibilities at a different location insofar as your type of work allows, including in your private household. This does however require the consent of your supervisor. Non-academic personnel can also in individual cases arrange to increase their levels of teleworking and mobile working with their supervisor. This is under the condition that the type of work can be carried out at the employee’s private household. This ruling is valid until the end of April.
     
  8. Hygiene. Please make sure you attend to all aspects of basic hygiene as indicated on the signs hanging up at the university. Should you feel ill, you should stay at home. Please note that disinfectant is not virucidal. The types of disinfectant with a virucidal effect can only be supplied to the university in 15-20 weeks’ time and should in all good conscience be delivered to institutions with a higher priority need for disinfectants of this kind, namely hospitals, doctors’ surgeries and people with existing medical conditions. Please understand that we will not be issuing every section of the university with disinfectant. Washing your hands is still the best protection, especially after touching door handles or other frequently-touched objects. Avoid shaking hands and embracing. If you feel unsafe, you can acquire small amounts of disinfectant for your organizational unit – but you should then make sure that you wash your hands frequently. Cracked or chapped skin represents a further risk of infection.
     
  9. Information Video. In the coming week, we will be uploading an information video onto our website in which we will report on how the situation is unfolding and what measures have been taken.

All in all, we are taking it one step at a time – based on the best sources of information and in all good conscience. We cannot rule out that our information and the steps we have taken must be reassessed in the near future and we must therefore all remain flexible. Thank you for taking responsibility for yourself and in doing so, helping us all to cope with the situation as best we can!

 

Update March 9

During the weekend, the Federal Minister of Health, Spahn, issued an urgent request to cancel certain events due to spreading infections with the COVID-19 virus ("Corona virus"). The following regulations now apply at our university:

Please cancel all university events by the end of April that

  • expect more than 1000 participants or
  • address international visitors.

Regular university courses are excluded.

If you are co-organizer of an international event that takes place abroad, the decision-making requirements of the local organizer and your own discretion apply. Events in high-risk areas must be canceled. The Rober-Koch-Institut offers a continuously updated list of COVID-19 risk areas.

The specifications for our university, which we have so far kept to a minimum, may have to be updated in the coming days and weeks.

Moreover, if you receive guests from risk areas and these contacts are unavoidable, you must contact our company doctor Dr. Henning Allmers. This also applies if you have traveled to a risk area yourself.

Update March 6

Information from the ministries:
In light of the spread of the Corona Virus, the government ministries responsible for our university have provided us with the attached guidance for any civil servants and government employees of the Land Niedersachsen who might be affected. We respectfully request that you take a moment to carefully read the information which is most relevant to your situation.

Information for Civil Servants
Information for Salaried Employees

Should you have any questions, please contact Frau Seidel (tel. 4940) if you are a civil servant and Frau Zurlutter (tel. 4035) if you are a government employee. The head of the human resources department, Carsten Niekamp (tel. 4931) and his deputy Stefanie Prieß (tel. 4934) are available at all times.

Travel:
We would also like to inform you that travel to so-called high-risk areas on external university business will not be authorized and you should not embark on travel which has already been authorized. You can find a regularly updated list of high-risk areas on the website of the Robert Koch Institute

Events:
Against the backdrop of current local developments we will inform you next week if events with external or international participation have had to be called off. We coordinate closely with the city and district of Osnabrück and the local health authorities.

Hygiene:
In addition to the hygienic precautions listed in our previous email regarding the prevention of viral infections, we would also like to ask you for your support: please inform us if you notice that the soap and towel dispensers in the university’s WC facilities have run out as a consequence of increased use. Please send a short email containing the room number and the reference “Handtuch” [towels] and/or “Seife” [soap] to: handhygiene@uos.de
We will then ensure that the materials are replaced without delay. The soap and towel dispensers are refilled every morning in all WC facilities. All WC facilities have also been subjected to additonal inspection to ensure that soap dispensers and washing facilities are functioning properly.

Thank you for your support!

Tips for hygiene and behavior | March 2

Download

Wash your hands frequently, Wash your hands thoroughly, Keep your hands away from your face, Cough and sneeze into the crook of your arm, Keep your distance, Dress open wounds. Keep your home clean, Handle food properly and safely, Air rooms regularly, Wash clothes at high temperatures

Information on regional development

Information on regional development and behavioral measures can also be found on the website of the health service for the district and city of Osnabrück. In addition, a citizen phone was set up (we have no information on English-speaking services, however): +49 541 501-1111

Dear Colleagues!

Since the situation around infections with the so-called "corona virus" still proves to be current, here are some pointers to the current status and possible scenarios in the event of a further spread of the virus.

First of all, I would ask you to take a careful look at the situation and the composure that is currently required. As you probably know, the infection rate is still far below that of normal flu waves; the overall health risk from an infection is no higher than that of the flu, which is also common in our region. Nevertheless, it is advisable - also considering the flu period that is already beginning - to consider a few things that I would like to share with you.

The Robert Koch Institute divides infection crises into three stages; containment, protection and mitigation. We are at the containment level, at which individual disease courses are tracked and infection chains are interrupted if possible. Our focus should now be on this.

1. Hygiene
You can download a poster on this page, it contains the usual information on hygiene, as specified by the Robert Koch Institute. It is currently difficult to acquire disinfectants and dispensers for a large institution like ours, but again we will try to act. Viruses are often transmitted through the hands and subsequent contact with food / mouth. Washing your hands thoroughly with soap is a very effective protection. It goes without saying that coughing and sneezing should not be done on eating tables and in the direction of other people. The etiquette of the hour commands discreet turning away and sneezing / coughing into the crook of the arm.

2. Welcome
Think about whether shaking hands or hugs are just the right greeting ceremony. Shaking hands is less of a problem if careful hand hygiene is used. However, we would suggest to rather not shake hands if not necessary.

3. Contact with potentially infected or sick people
Since very few infections have so far been reported in Osnabrück, the question is not acute, but will arise in the foreseeable future. If people in your work area are infected or suspected of being infected, we ask you to inform the university’s general management immediately. People entering from potential infection areas should contact our company doctor (Dr. Henning Allmers). After Easter we will find a new situation, because many people will travel and return and the spread of the virus must then be considered. Shortly before Easter we probably will give new information to all employees.

So far there are no indications that the university should be closed. The effectiveness of such a measure is fundamentally questionable, since it is practically impossible to define “safe” periods and the university is one of many institutions in Osnabrück. An institution of our size would therefore only ever be able to make such a decision in close consultation with the city, district, business institutions and the university. Coordination between the aforementioned institutions is ongoing.

4. Course Operation
We are currently in the semester break. This means that few courses take place. Should you nevertheless hold courses, we ask you to share this information and the poster  with your students. At the moment we see no reason to cancel courses. Before the event starts in April, we will also contact all students with the current state of affairs. In the summer semester, we also expect exchange students from potential infection areas. These students will be contacted in advance to arrange precautionary measures in the form of examinations and, if necessary, quarantine measures.

5. Meetings / major events
In the coming weeks, the University of Osnabrück will hold a number of conferences and major events. As the main organizer responsible, please get in touch with the management of the presidential office Claudia Kirchner claudia.kirchner@uni-osnabrueck.de so that considerations regarding the handling and any decisions can be made.

So far the situation at the moment. Please stay healthy!

Best regards
Susanne Menzel-Riedl, President