Requirements and regulations for the 2021 summer semester
In view of the ongoing COVID 19 pandemic with a very dynamic infection situation, partly due to viral mutations, study programmes for the 2021 summer semester took place to a limited extent at the universities themselves. The German states and higher education institutions predominantly relied on digital distance teaching – whereby, in accordance with the legal framework conditions, in compliance with the necessary protective and hygiene measures and, if necessary, supported by local test strategies, this was to be combined with face-to-face teaching wherever justifiable, especially for practical and experimental training (e.g. for laboratory activities, practical training sections, artistic exercises and examinations). In principle, access to the holdings of the university libraries was also made possible. This procedure took into account the specific needs of the universities, the subjects and the teaching and learning formats required in each case, while safeguarding health protection depending on the situation. The universities have acted in a differentiated and efficient manner since the beginning of the pandemic. In this way, they have sustainably reduced the risk of infection in their area of responsibility and at the same time continuously enabled students to complete their studies and graduate successfully.
In the course of extended contact restrictions in force since December 16, 2020, higher education institutions in the Federal Republic of Germany were ordered back to minimum operation: i.e. only the administrative work that is absolutely necessary for operation was carried out on site; refectories and libraries were closed (including options to take away food or borrow literature); face-to-face teaching and examinations were reduced to the absolute minimum or were held digitally (examinations may also be postponed); the premises are not open to the public. These regulations are still in force at the beginning of the summer semester. Moreover, on April 24, 2021, an amendment to the Federal Infection Protection Act came into force, which demands extensive contact restrictions linked to certain incidence thresholds. On May 20, 2021, the Bundestag passed a second law amending this Act providing adjustments and clarifications to individual regulations, including those concerning universities; the Bundesrat approved these amendments on May 28, 2021.
On May 7, 2021, the Federal Government and the Länder had already stated in a joint declaration on the situation at higher education institutions that studying, teaching and research requires an increase of face-to-face events, but that an intensification of contacts will have to be organised responsibly and with a view to the dynamic infectious situation.