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Information for students and faculty

Please also note the general information, the page winter semester2020/21 (for students)and the portal page Digital Education (for faculty and lecturers)! In addition, the faculties and their examination offices provide information on
specific regulations for courses and examinations.

Nationwide Lockdown from 16 December | Impact University of Cologne


Teaching in the 2020/21 winter semester

‘Hybrid semester’

Originally, the University of Cologne planned for a so-called hybrid semester consisting of a mix of classroom and virtual teaching starting in November. The current developments and the exponentially increasing numbers of coronavirus infection unfortunately do not allow for this. The corona pandemic must first be further contained. The following therefore currently applies:

State regulations de facto prohibit face-to-face teaching until 31 January 2021.

In individual cases, however, it is permissible to hold a face-to-face event if it cannot be held either without attendance or postponed to a date after 31 January 2021 without serious disadvantages for students.

The Faculties are now examining on a case-by-case basis which courses fulfil the exceptional circumstances and can therefore be held face to face. Students will be informed as soon as possible.

It is not possible to say for sure at the moment whether these or similar state regulations will apply beyond 31 January. At present, the University is planning that at least those courses that meet the exception criteria outlined above will also be able to take place in attendance in February. The Faculties will therefore already check the fulfilment of the exception criteria for all upcoming face-to-face classroom events in February and inform students accordingly.

All courses that do not require presence should continue to be conducted virtually until the end of the winter semester.

The further decisions of the state will determine when face-to-face teaching is possible again.

Hygiene and infection protection regulations for classroom teaching

  • No more than 50 persons, including teachers, may participate in a classroom course.
  • In all buildings used by the University, a mouth-and-nose cover (so-called everyday mask, MNC) must be worn. This also applies during face-to-face examinations, classroom teaching, when encountering people in public traffic, and for all other activities. The University strongly urges everyone to wear a mouth-and-nose cover on the entire campus (i.e., also on outdoor areas). The MNC may be briefly removed for eating or drinking. This should be limited to necessary occasions. The MNC may only be removed if one person is alone in a room.

  • Crowds of people in and in front of buildings should be avoided as far as possible through appropriate planning (e.g. distance markings, entrance regulations, etc.).

  • All rooms must be aired regularly and sufficiently by their users. Events with 21 people or more may only be held in rooms where continuous technical ventilation with a high level of fresh air supply is possible. Classroom teaching events with up to 20 people can be held in rooms aired by opening windows, which must be done regularly. The windows must be fully opened for this purpose. Teaching rooms must be aired before use, especially if other people used the room before, and then at regular intervals for 3 to 10 minutes by fully opening the windows to let in a surge of fresh air. Intervals of no more than 20 minutes are recommended.

  • The regulations for contact tracing in accordance with Section 2a of the Corona Protection Ordinance must be observed for every occasion of a person’s presence at the University. This includes in particular the correct recording of the contact data necessary for infection tracing (name, address, private [and work, if applicable] phone number). Students are requested to enter the relevant data in KLIPS 2.0 (instructions). Electronic data storage is only permitted with the consent of the persons concerned.

  • For each classroom teaching event, a ‘Corona Risk Assessment’ must be prepared and filed by the lecturer. Further details are regulated by the deans or the managers of the central institutions that offer classroom teaching.

  • In the case of practical courses involving laboratory activities, in particular those involving hazardous substances, bio-substances, genetically engineered organisms and radioactive substances, the protective measures against the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 must not conflict with other necessary and established protective measures. The standard version of the Corona Risk Assessment stipulates that MNCs are not required in the lab, provided that the minimum safety distance is maintained, the rooms are sufficiently technically ventilated and there is no danger of exposure to hazardous or bio- and other substances. If, when preparing the Corona Risk Assessment, the head of the working group comes to the conclusion that the risk of infection by not using MNCs is higher than that caused by the substances used, suitable MNCs can also be worn in labs. The template for the necessary Corona Risk Assessment is available on the website of Staff Unit 02.2.
    In cases of doubt, the University urges you to consult Staff Unit 02.2.

Carrying out excursions

Only field trips/excursions that are obligatory according to the examination regulations and that do not lead to a country that is a high-risk area at the time of departure are permitted. For all phases of an excursion, the corona rules according to the laws of the federal states visited apply. This concerns, for example, the permitted group size in public places, the rules in public transport, in museums, restaurants, hostels, etc. Excursions require authorization by the dean on the basis of a hygiene concept and a corona risk assessment; the decision must be documented and cannot be delegated. Contact tracing (simple traceability according to Section 2a CoronaSchVO NRW) must be ensured. Further details can be found in the Recommendations for excursions/field trips (PDF).

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Examinations in the winter semester 2020/21

Examinations at the University of Cologne are conducted in various formats, among others as online exams via ILIAS and – in well-justified and exceptional cases – as attendance exams. Students are notified of the times and dates of exams at least two weeks in advance.

Face-to-face examinations and preparatory measures for them are only permissible until at least 31 January 2021 if they cannot be postponed after 31 January 2021 for legal or factual reasons or if the postponement is unreasonable for the examinee.

The Faculties will check promptly on a case-by-case basis which examinations and preparatory measures fulfil these exceptional circumstances and can therefore be carried out face to face, and will inform students accordingly.

Since it is also not possible to say for sure whether these or similar state regulations will apply beyond 31 January, the University assumes that at least those examinations that meet the exception criteria outlined above will also be able to take place face to face in February.

The Faculties will therefore check the fulfilment of the exception criteria for all upcoming face-to-face examinations in February as well in a timely manner and inform students accordingly.

However, whether they can actually be carried out face to face also depends on the further regulations of the state.

The further decisions of the state will determine when face-to-face exams are possible again.

Hygiene and infection protection regulations for face-to-face examinations

  • Exams are only carried out with personal attendance if no alternatives are possible.
  • When conducting attendance examinations, the University’s Hygiene and Protection Directive must be observed. Responsible behaviour by each individual and adherence by all to important rules are urgently required in order to protect your health and that of everyone else present.
  • A mouth-and-nose cover must be worn in all rooms used by the University of Cologne. This applies for the entire duration of the examination both for students as well as invigilators. It may only be raised for the purpose of eating or drinking. Please bring your own mouth-and-nose cover with you to the exam.

    If students are unable to wear a mouth-and-nose cover during an attendance examination for medical reasons and can substantiate this with a medical certificate, they must please contact the Examination Office responsible immediately and in good time so that an individual solution can be found.

    The hygiene and infection protection measures of the University of Cologne must also be observed in cases where an individual solution is found, and everybody’s health must be protected. For example, when an exam is taken in a separate room, students must also wear a mask to protect the other people present. We ask for your understanding that arranging solutions for individual cases is complex and can require some time.
  • Contact tracing in the form of special traceability according to Section 2a of the Corona Protection Ordinance (CoronaSchVO NRW) must be ensured for every face-to-face examination. This is the case if, in addition to the recording of contact data, a seating plan is prepared documenting which candidate sat where.
  • All participants must maintain a minimum distance of  1.5 metres. This is ensured during the exam itself by removing chairs and tables. The seats that students may occupy are marked. All students are requested to occupy only the designated seats in the lecture theatres/seminar rooms and to make sure they always maintain the minimum safety distance before, during and after the examination.
  • Contact tracing in the form of special traceability in accordance with Section 4a CoronaSchVO NRW must be ensured for every face-to-face examination. This is the case if, in addition to the collection of contact data, a seating plan is prepared that documents which examinees sat where.

  • Examinees must be informed of the examination date at least two weeks before the examination.

  • Spectators are excluded from examinations.

  • All students participating in attendance examinations at the University of Cologne are urgently requested to inform the university immediately if they test positive for the coronavirus within two weeks after participating in such an examination. They are obliged to provide this information both to the Examination Office responsible for their exam as well as the information office of the university’s Crisis Management Team (

Regulations pertaining to legal aspects of examinations and status

  • In consultation with the Faculties, the Rectorate has adopted regulations on the legal status of students and the legal aspects of examinations. These are based on the Corona Epidemic University Ordinance of the Ministry of Science and Culture of North Rhine-Westphalia, which allows universities to establish rules that deviate from their regular examination regulations. The regulations can be found in the Amtlichen Mitteilungen (Official Notices of the University), here (PDF, German only), here(PDF), here (PDF), here (PDF) and here (PDF).
  • The above-mentioned regulations concerning the legal aspects of examinations stipulate, among others, that examinations taken and failed between 1.4.2020 and 31.12.2021 are considered not to have been taken. This does not apply to examinations failed due to an attempt at cheating. Also excluded are final theses including focus seminars in the first examination in accordance with the Legal Training Act of North Rhine-Westphalia (DRiG/JAG NRW) as well as the equivalency examinations within the framework of the model study programme in human medicine. The resolution regarding this decision will be published promptly in the University’s Amtliche Mitteilungen.


The University and City Library of Cologne (UCL) as well as some specialised libraries offer a restricted borrowing service, while adhering to the applicable hygiene and infection protection rules. Please see the UCL website for further information.
State regulations currently prohibit working in libraries at present.

Standard period of study (Regelstudienzeit) increased

In order to compensate students for the disadvantages of the pandemic, the state government has increased the individual standard period of study (Regelstudienzeit) by one semester for all students enrolled in the 2020/21 winter semester, as it has already done for the 2020 summer semester. For students who were already enrolled in the 2020 summer semester, the individual standard period of study will therefore be increased by two semesters.

Further pastime activities

Recreational activities, such as university sports, music rehearsals, or theatre, are still not possible.

Reconciliation of family and studies

Please note the information for parents and carers.


Frequently Asked Questions