Communication on teaching in the 2020 summer semester

To the professors and instructors
at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main 

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, 
Dear Colleagues,

The spread of the coronavirus and the social distancing it brings with it also mean that the 2020 summer semester will take a different course at Goethe University than originally planned. In this communication and its addendum, we would like to inform you of the most important guidelines for the summer semester. We made them in dialogue with the other Hessian universities, the HMWK (Hessian Ministry for Higher Education, Research and the Arts) and in accordance with the KMK announcements (Standing Conference of the Culture Ministers). We also received important tips from the study deans, who met for this purpose virtually last Wednesday.

Our decisions and our actions are guided by our conviction that we want to provide teaching and learning to Goethe University students to the greatest extent possible in the 2020 summer semester. The students should at least not lose an entire semester. This is dictated by our responsibility with regard to their individual life planning and also with regard to society, which is in need of graduates with degrees from our study courses.

Even though this is our goal, study and teaching will not be able to be realised everywhere in the customary rhythm, to the customary degree, and maybe not even immediately at the same standards we ourselves have set. If possible, students should not suffer disadvantages from this – and we are advocating for this at state and federal levels – especially regarding semester count and BAFöG benefits.

As at the other Hessian universities, the lecture period will begin on Monday, 20 April 2020 with remote course programmes. In-person teaching is not possible. It is expressly permitted, and in our view absolutely recommended, to offer study and teaching in virtual form the entire semester. We cannot currently say at what date we can again offer classroom teaching. If the assessment of the health risk changes, we will of course again open the university for classroom teaching, in an initially limited capacity if necessary. This is not to be expected before 2 June 2020. To make an orderly transition possible, we will announce this with at least four weeks’ advance notice.

As addendum to this writing, please find the central guidelines for the 2020 summer semester and other references. These will be completed over the course of the coming week on the website and continually updated (German) ( You can also send us questions and impulses at the e-mail address we have created for this purpose: .

We know that the coming summer semester means considerable extra effort and additional work for everyone involved – be it the University Computing Centre staff, library staff or examination offices, to name a few – but above all for you, the professors and instructors. The feedback reaching us from the faculties, the dean’s offices and committees is, however, encouraging. We discern a high level of creativity and readiness to take on this joint effort. Thank you very much for this!

We are confident that we can carry out teaching operations in the upcoming 2020 summer semester – without making extensive compromises in quality or quantity. We will continue to discuss numerous issues and solutions, we will have to allow ourselves to make some mistakes, but we will also implement a number of creative ideas. It is our hope that we can manage this difficult time together with the students and also learn from this experience for the future of Goethe University!

With best regards, 

Birgitta Wolff 
Goethe University President

Roger Erb
Vice President for Study and Teaching 

Guidelines for the 2020 summer semester

1. Structure

  • The 2020 summer semester lecture period will begin with virtual course programmes for all Hessian universities on Monday 20th April 2020. In-person teaching is not possible. (The module „Covid 19“ at the Faculty of Medicine is an exception. The faculty will decide on further regulations for courses in medicine.)
  • It is expressly permitted to offer teaching in virtual form for the entire semester.
  • If the assessment of health risk permits, Goethe University will open again for classroom teaching, probably in initially limited capacity. This is cannot be expected to happen before 2nd June 2020. To ensure an orderly transition, this will be announced at least four weeks in advance.
  • In the interest of a family-friendly phase for regeneration, there will be an exam-free and event-free period in the summer.

2. Teaching: 

  • Students should be offered as extensive a range of courses as possible. Please review which courses (for example when there are several to choose from) can be eliminated in the summer semester, and which courses can be offered as interdisciplinary courses, or in the RMU alliance.
  • Teaching will begin virtually, with asynchronous having preference over synchronous, and text over audio over video. This is not intended to interfere with your didactic freedom as university teacher, but increase the probability that we can also technically deliver all desired courses. Please keep things, at least initially, as “low-threshold” as possible! (e.g., reading lists accompanied by autonomous study instructions, lecture notes, etc.)
  • Support for realising virtual teaching will be made available through the following site (German): Various digital tools are available, including Zoom licenses. Video conferencing should, however, be used with a sense of proportion due to the risk of technical limitations mentioned above. 
  • The regulation on required teaching hours continues to apply, i.e. the teaching load can be distributed over three study years on average, but at least 50 percent must be fulfilled in the current semester. The study deans are requested to only count team teaching within a faculty, as well as intradisciplinary or RMU team teaching as completely fulfilling the teaching load for a maximum of two teachers.

3. Teaching: Handling courses for which virtual teaching is only possible to a limited degree

  • Courses that depend on in-person attendance (e.g., practical laboratory courses) should be offered toward the end of the lecture period or after the lecture period and if possible as block courses, since a return to classroom teaching seems plausible at this point in time. Please check whether a postponement to the 2020 winter semester is possible.  

4. Exams:

  • Currently, small exams with a maximum of four students and examiner in one room may take place. This should continue to be possible at Goethe University. Dividing larger exams into several small groups is only possible if the group of those taking exams is not larger than 12. In this case, the exam must take place simultaneously in three rooms.
  • Research papers in the context of state examinations, bachelor’s or master’s papers (e.g., in research groups in experimental laboratories) may take place under observance of the RKI security standards and with the explicit consent of the students.
  • Exams from the winter semester that have to be made up in person will be given the opportunity to do so at the beginning of the resuming of classroom teaching; if necessary, a right of reservation for rooms will be granted for this purpose during the first three weeks. Exams may also be scheduled on weekends. (A room management working group will be set up for coordination.) Students are to be informed of exam dates four weeks in advance.
  • We kindly ask you to refrain as far as possible from using exams as a form of coursework for the 2020 summer semester and to make generous use of equivalence achievements.
  • Additional regulations regarding exam formats, exam participation, deadlines, etc. will be announced in the course of the coming week on a subpage of the „Corona main page“ that will be set up expressly for this purpose and which will be updated as new information is available (German):

5. Study

  • Students should not suffer disadvantages due to the unusual 2020 summer semester situation, in particular with regard to semester count and BAFöG benefits. The executive board is advocating for this at state and federal levels

6. Information & communication

  • Professors, instructors, and study dean’s office employees can address questions on implementation and on the framework conditions for teaching in the summer semester to
  • The faculties are also kindly requested to report the eLearning representatives for the faculties to the email address as well.
  • Support with implementing virtual teaching can be found on the following site (German)
  • In the interest of gaining a current overview of the status of preparations and the intended planning for teaching in the summer semester, and in order to initiate custom support measures, we kindly ask as many professors and instructors as possible to take part in the following very short survey (German):

Relevante Artikel

Kein richtiges Leben im falschen?

Drei Romanheld*innen werden auf ganz unterschiedliche Weise mit den Widersprüchen der Gegenwartsgesellschaft konfrontiert: Die Erziehungswissenschaftlerin Yandé Thoen-McGeehan hat gerade ihren

Einfach mal „reingrooven“

Kurz vor Semesterbeginn: Neue „Erstis“ schauten sich auf dem Campus Westend um. Es ist recht unwirtlich an diesem Mittwoch Anfang

Öffentliche Veranstaltungen

Kein richtiges Leben im falschen?

Drei Romanheld*innen werden auf ganz unterschiedliche Weise mit den Widersprüchen der Gegenwartsgesellschaft konfrontiert: Die Erziehungswissenschaftlerin Yandé Thoen-McGeehan hat gerade ihren

Einfach mal „reingrooven“

Kurz vor Semesterbeginn: Neue „Erstis“ schauten sich auf dem Campus Westend um. Es ist recht unwirtlich an diesem Mittwoch Anfang

You cannot copy content of this page