Coronavirus: Current information
This website contains information from Bern University of Applied Sciences about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on university operations and about specific measures taken by the BFH. For general information for the public, please refer to the information provided by the Federal Office of Public Health FOPH and the canton of Bern.
last amended on 3 June, 3 pm
On 27 May 2020, the federal council announced that it is substantially relaxing the measures introduced to combat coronavirus.
On this basis, BFH has developed a framework safety concept and a scenario for transitioning to adjusted normal operations.
The goal is to protect staff and students, while at the same time creating the best possible operational conditions and planning security for teaching and research.
- Framework safety concept (german, Intranet): this concept is binding throughout BFH and provides the framework for individual regulations in departments, degree programmes, etc.
- Scenario for adjusted normal operations (german, Intranet): this is a summary of the procedure for the imminent transition phase
Key regulations at a glance:
Distance learning will remain the norm until the end of the current semester. Departments can decide and communicate any exceptions to this regulation. Students will be notified by their deparment if face-to-face teaching is to resume.
Where classes or examinations are held as face-to-face events, participants must observe the hygiene and distancing guidelines. Specifically, these are SERI’s COVID-19 basic principles for resumption of classroom teaching at upper secondary level, tertiary level and other adult education institutions. The currently applicable version dated 13 May 2020 mandates a distance of two metres between participants in face-to-face events. However, the maximum number of participants is no longer restricted to five.
Working from home
Most employees will continue to work from home. However, increased attendance on site is possible as long as staff comply with safety measures in line with the BFH framework safety concept, which also applies to meeting and break rooms. The locations and departments will issue individual regulations that govern factors such as rotation within and between teams and part-time on-site attendance.
Events of up to 300 attendees are allowed if the hygiene and distancing regulations are observed in line with the framework safety concept (Appendix III).
Event organisers must first register the event with the crisis team using the online form. To allow the tracing of attendees, personal details (surname, first name, phone number, seat number where possible) are to be recorded and retained for 14 days. A form for this is available here: Template.
Cafeterias and staff restaurants may adjust their activities to reflect increased university operations. They will do so under the guidelines of the Covid-19 safety concept for catering. For information on individual cafeterias, please refer to the pages for the facilities in question on the internet or intranet.
BFH’s libraries will reopen their reading rooms. The hygiene and distancing regulations of the BFH framework safety concept apply to counter operations and (self-service) borrowing.
For information on individual libraries, please refer to their webpages: www.bfh.ch/libraries
The FAQ will be adapted to the new situation by Thursday, 4 June 2020.
Updated: 08.05.2020, 11 am
The Federal Council has passed a resolution allowing universities to resume face-to-face teaching with up to five persons from 11 May 2020, provided that the distancing and hygiene rules are observed. The following applies at BFH: as a rule, no face-to-face teaching sessions will take place during the 2020 spring term. Exceptions will be approved by the heads of departments. Distancing and hygiene rules are to be observed at all times. Inspections will be carried out internally at BFH and also by external parties.
Students will be notified by the head of their degree programme or by their lecturers if face-to-face teaching is to resume.
What significance do of the admission regulations for the spring semester 2020 retain?
The Corona regulations take precedence where they differ from previous regulations. This applies in particular to regulations on competency assessment and examinations, teaching modalities, semester times, implementation of continuing education, leave of absence and termination of matriculation as well as reimbursement of fees.
Do the previous regulations no longer apply?
The Corona regulations allow the BFH to deviate from the applicable regulations in justified cases. Deviations must be proportionate and ensure legal equality. They must also be announced in advance.
Who can decide on changes in the course of study?
The heads of degree programmes are responsible for implementing the measures in the course of study. You will be supported by those responsible for the modules.
I cannot pay the BFH's bills. What will happen?
The deadline will expire on 30 June 2020. Until then, the BFH will not send any reminders and will not initiate any debt collection. However, the claim remains.
I consider myself a special case. What can I do?
Contact your Head of Degree Programme about your case. A determination will be made whether a special regulation is justified.
When will these special corona rules start to apply?
The Corona regulations and thus these special rules apply retroactively from 16 March 2020. The purpose of this retrospective entry into force is to cover all situations that have occurred since the Federal Council orders of 16 March 2020.
How will the university accommodate us in terms of competence and performance requirements this semester?
You still need to meet the competency requirements to receive your assessment, ECTS credits or diploma. If your competency assessment is insufficient, the failed attempt will be cancelled once and will not count towards the number of possible retry attempts. The BFH is committed to good practice in applying the provisions in individual and doubtful cases.
What are the consequences for my exams, which I have to take under difficult conditions this semester?
Where possible and sensible, the competency assessments are done at a distance. If this is not possible, the exams can be postponed.
Examinations that have already been scheduled may be taken as planned, provided that the official protective measures can be observed.
Are the exam requirements unchanged?
The requirements remain unchanged.
Are competency assessments changed in form and content?
Where necessary, the form and content of competency assessments can be adjusted. The staff responsible for this will inform you in good time.
I am registered for an entrance exam. Will this take place?
I am registered for an aptitude assessment. Will this take place?
If the examination or aptitude assessment has to be completed in a conventional manner, the hygiene and clearance rules of the Federal Council must be observed. To do this, the form and content can be changed, which the respective department will inform you of at an early stage.
The University Teaching & E-learning Office has developed a guide to distance learning. If you have any questions, the Office will be happy to help you.
Does distance learning apply to all modules and events?
Distance learning applies wherever this can be implemented. Where distance learning is not possible, the module / the event / parts of the module will be postponed or cancelled.
Can I freely use the new teaching materials and recordings?
No, the principles of copyright and the rights of third parties apply here. This means that contributions and pictures of fellow students must be treated confidentially. Third-party works may only be used in a closed class.
Module evaluations in the 2020 spring semester
Because of the special conditions governing the delivery of teaching events in the current crisis, there will be no written module evaluations by means of the standard BFH questionnaire in the 2020 spring semester. Instead, members of the teaching staff will be individually responsible for collecting student feedback on module delivery via distance learning in a manner appropriate to the present situation. They can decide on the form and content of the procedure in the light of the specific module and delivery method. The Moodle page of BFH evaluation forms operated by the University Teaching and E-Learning Office (Fachstelle Hochschuldidaktik & E-Learning – HdEL) can be used for guidance if necessary. A BFH-wide survey of students on their experience of distance learning in the 2020 spring semester is planned for late summer.
Are the semester times unchanged? Can I expect my semester break (lecture-free time) as planned?
It may be that some of your courses and exams are postponed until the semester break or the next semester. This applies in particular to events that are not suitable for distance learning. You will be informed of any postponement by your contact person (director, person responsible for the module, Head of Degree Programme).
Do the previous module descriptions continue to apply?
Changes are possible if this is necessary for the conversion of modules and competency assessment to distance learning.
What do I have to do if I want a leave of absence (vacation semester) for extraordinary childcare duties, moving in to military or employment in health care or comparable services?
You can take a leave of absence until 10 April 2020 using the appropriate form (Intranet). These extra-day leaves of absence due to the Corona virus are not counted towards the maximum quantity of leave of absence.
May I cancel my studies due to the current situation? (Termination of matriculation)
You can arrange for the termination of matriculation using the appropriate form (Intranet) until 10 April 2020.
Bachelor and master’s students who are called up for unscheduled military service, civil defence or a hospital deployment in connection with the corona crisis and who for this reason are granted a leave of absence for the 2020 spring semester in accordance with Article 13 of the Corona Regulations L-WB will not be charged the leave of absence fee.
Are all continuing education courses taking place as planned?
The BFH reserves the right to cancel events. Fees already paid will be refunded. If a continuing education course that has already started is cancelled, the fees will be reimbursed proportionately to the ECTS credits already acquired.
I would like to withdraw from continuing education under these circumstances. What do I have to do?
After becoming aware of the new implementation modalities, you have two weeks to unsubscribe from the continuing education. We will reimburse the fees pro rata for credits already acquired. Please contact your study administration.
BFH buildings are closed to the public. Access for staff and students is regulated separately at the different premises and may also be restricted. Further information can be obtained from the respective department.
If access remains possible, anyone accessing the building must follow current hygiene and "social distancing" guidelines. We appeal to you personally to behave responsibly. Access to certain rooms (e.g. laboratories, studios) may be restricted if there are already too many people inside.
Incoming Students – What rules apply as of the 2020 autumn term?
Are you planning an exchange semester or a regular course of study at Bern University of Applied Sciences (BFH), but are uncertain about what is going to happen because of the current situation? Then you have come to the right place! We provide information on the latest developments to help you plan a successful exchange.
Last update on 06/05/2020
In Switzerland restrictions are slowly being lifted and steps back to normality are being discussed. We hope therefore that entry requirements can be relaxed by the 2020 autumn term and that regular teaching at BFH can resume. Should there nevertheless be delays and restrictions, BFH will endeavour to offset this by offering distance learning.
Here is a list of topics that may be of interest to you:
As of 11 May 2020, provisional restrictions to entry requirements will gradually be lifted. Currently the issuing of visas is suspended until 15 June 2020 for Schengen type C visas (for short-term entries and stays of up to 90 days) and national type D visas (for long-term stays and legal residence in Switzerland of more than 90 days).
For up-to-date information please refer to the section ‘Classroom teaching (studies and continuing education)’.
Whether it is a visit to a museum, the zoo, the hairdresser’s or a library all this should be possible again as of 8 June. The restrictive measures are gradually being eased, and the colourful and appealing Bernese university environment is slowly but steadily returning to normality.
For further information see: The portal of the Swiss Government
Outgoing students – What rules apply as of the 2020 autumn term?
Are you planning an exchange abroad in the 2020 autumn term? Then you should regularly check the information provided by your exchange university as well as the entry requirements of the country in question and, if necessary, contact the International Office.
Updated: 08.05.2020, 11.00 am
The administrative and technical operation of the university continues.
Will meetings still be held?
Meetings and discussions are to be kept to an absolute minimum from now on. Whenever possible, meetings must be organised via MS Teams. Unavoidable meetings are to be held in large meeting rooms, with a minimum distance of two metres from others.
Allocation of other tasks and cantonal job exchange
The extraordinary situation due to the Corona virus means that various employees are no longer working on their previous tasks at full capacity and according to their job description. Other employees, on the other hand, need support. As a result, the BFH, as a cantonal organisation, is authorised to assign its employees temporarily and for as long as necessary, other or additional tasks to those listed in their job description. This was decided upon by the state council on 25 March 2020.
The canton will set up an internal job exchange to support those administrative units that are under particularly strain.
BFH has adjusted its research operations to comply with the official measures adopted to contain SARS-CoV-2. All research and consulting activities are carried out in accordance with the hygiene and behaviour recommendations of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH). Where possible, cooperation with external partners in industry, society, culture and the public sector is being maintained in order to continue to drive innovation, especially in the present exceptional circumstances.
Working from home remains the norm at BFH until at least 8 June 2020.
BFH has adopted the cantonal guidelines governing work from home and is specifically implementing them as follows:
Home office as standard procedure
Working from home is the standard procedure at BFH until further notice. For this reason, it must no longer be specifically indicated on the calendar. However, availability must be stated and ensured (via e-mail, MS Teams, call forwarding or call-back).
The written agreement required to date is no longer necessary for the time being. The daily working time is to be recorded as usual (note: "home office").
Staff who belong to a risk group continue to be under instructions to work from home wherever possible. For persons at high risk in the working world, the Swiss Federal Council has established in Art. 10c of the COVID-19 Ordinance 2 (SR 818.101.24) a cascade of decisions and actions for those cases in which the presence of such staff in the normal workplace may need to be considered for operational reasons.
Monitor and mouse
Employees are allowed to take a monitor and a mouse home on loan from their own BFH workstation, if this makes working in the home office easier for them. They are responsible for transporting the monitor and mouse home and back, and for installing it at the BFH workstation at the end of the corona measures.
Time recording and paid short leave
General time recording practice
The actual number of hours worked is entered in SAP. Overtime results in the build-up of a positive flexi-time balance.
Less workload due to the coronavirus
Certain employees may not currently be working to capacity due to the coronavirus situation, or may no longer be able to do their jobs. In these cases, it is possible to take a short paid holiday. This must be approved by line managers.
The short paid holiday may only be taken after positive annual working time credits (GLAZ balances) have been used up. This regulation applies analogously to employees in the RAZ work model (positive ILV balance).
The following are entitled to paid short leave:
- Employees who have additional child care duties as a result of the closure of schools and nurseries
- Employees who are in a BAG risk group and whose work cannot be done from home. Anyone who wants to take paid short leave should submit a self-declaration to their line manager and HR by email; this will be saved in their personal file. A doctor’s certificate is not required.
- Employees who are staying at home because of the closure of facilities and whose work cannot be done from home. This affects employees such as cleaning, canteen and operating staff.
- Employees who temporarily have little or nothing to do as a result of the corona pandemic
Further information on cantonal personnel law in connection with the coronavirus pandemic can be found in the canton's FAQs.
Time tracking in SAP for paid short leave
Employees whose work is covered under the annual working hours (Jahresarbeitszeit – JAZ) model should enter the paid short leave under any of the scenarios described above in the presence/absence category “Betreuung Angehörige” (“care for relatives”), absence code 0714. The entry is normally settled via the primary cost centre. The usual requirements for recording absences apply:
- Daily quota must not exceed 8.4 hours, i.e. no flexi-time hours (GLAZ) accrue
- Weekly quota must not be exceeded, i.e. no flexi-time hours (GLAZ) accrue
- “From-to” entries must not be combined with lump-sum time entries (e.g. 3 h)
- Part-time employees enter their working hours and/or “Betreuung Angehörige” (care for relatives) only for the agreed/usual working days
For employees working under the JAZ and RAZ models, the following applies: holidays planned for the coming weeks are to be taken and not postponed. The Heads of Department will make decisions concerning any justified exceptions. The goal is to avoid staffing shortages in the second half of the year.
All travel abroad until the end of May must be cancelled This period is being continuously reviewed and extended if necessary.
BFH has no legal authority to prohibit staff or students from travelling to "restricted zones" or from engaging in activities in their free time that heightens the risk of contagion. However, we urge staff and students to refrain from such activities in the sense of personal responsibility and to protect those at risk.
Employees who are called up for military service are subject to the usual rules of military service.
Events + Operation
Updated: 08.05.2020, 11.00 am
All BFH events are cancelled until at least 8 June 2020. This is in line with the instructions of the Federal Council. BFH is currently unable to make any statement about events to be held after 8 June 2020.
The BFH libraries’ lending and return service will reopen from 11 May 2020, with the required protection measures in place. The reading rooms, open-access areas and study areas remain closed.
Details of opening times at each site can be found at bfh.ch/libraries.
BFH cafeterias and canteens
The cafeterias at BFH sites have adapted their range to local demand.
Information about each site can be found here ("Locations" webpage). Cafeterias that are still open are operated as company canteens. Food can only be sold to BFH students and employees. Hygiene and social distancing guidelines must be observed.