FAQ for Students

Status: 14 January 2021

Obligation to Wear Masks:

Who has to wear a mask?

The obligation to wear a mask applies to anyone present at UZH (UZH members as well as visitors and external service providers) in indoor and outdoor spaces.

Where outdoors do I have to wear a mask?

Masks must be worn in outdoor areas at UZH wherever the required minimum distance of 1.5 meters can't be observed, in particular in busy pedestrian zones, in front of buildings, when going to/leaving campus, in waiting areas, in seating and standing areas (benches, tables, etc.).

Do I have to wear a mask all the time?

Masks may be removed to eat or drink. But removal of masks should be kept as short as possible.

Where can I buy masks at UZH?

You can buy masks at various ZFV cafeteria sites (as of October 2020)

  • Irchel Campus: Seerose, Café Complet
  • City Campus: Platte 14, Café Complet, UniTurm, Cafeteria Rämistrasse
  • Oerlikon Campus: Cafeteria Binzmühle, Cafeteria Cityport, Restaurant Forum
    Locations of UZH Cafeterias

At Irchel Campus there is also a vending machine with masks (in front of building Y23 / Facility Management Irchel Campus info counter).

On what grounds can someone be dispensed from the obligation to wear a mask?

Children under age 12 and people who can prove that they cannot wear a face mask on specific grounds (particularly medical grounds) are dispensed from the mask requirement.

What is the mask-wearing requirement based on?

The mask-wearing requirement is based on the social distancing and hygiene recommendations of the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH).

Assessments and Exams:

Assessment for my course is tied to my presence in class. Will that change as a result of the conversion to digital teaching?

Assessments that currently require the presence of students will be adapted such that presence at UZH is no longer required. For their part, students are responsible for ensuring that they have suitable infrastructure in place to take part in distance learning/assessments or that they can get hold of such infrastructure. This includes hardware (a computer) and a stable internet connection.

What form will digital exams take and are they fair?

Everyone responsible for module exams knows about the special conditions under which this semester has been held thus far and will continue to be held. These circumstances will be taken into account in the development of the digital examination formats. In many cases, assessments will be digital open book exams, which place all participants on a level playing field.

UZH assumes that its students will continue to take responsibility for themselves in the current situation and that they are willing to act fairly, including in unusual exam situations. In future professional practice, it will no longer be the exam result that counts but the knowledge or skill that the exam evidenced.

Furthermore, students are responsible for ensuring that they have suitable infrastructure in place to take digital exams or that they are able to get hold of such infrastructure. This includes hardware (a computer) and a stable internet connection.

How are these online exams supervised?

A legal basis is currently being developed so that very simple forms of verification via Zoom and MS Teams can be used for online exams that are comparable to the situation in the lecture hall. This includes, for example, the identification of students taking the exam. These light forms of supervision are expected to be used in the 2020 Fall Semester by faculties who wish to do so. Proctoring, i.e. the recording of students during exams, as used at US universities, is not used at UZH, also for data protection reasons.

Why is the decision about holding exams being left to the individual faculties? Wouldn’t a university-wide ruling be fairer and simpler?

The types of examinations held at the University of Zurich vary as much as the courses the faculties offer. The requirements for medicine degrees differ from those for German studies, for example. Just as varied as the requirements are the teaching and examination formats and the times of the exams. Many departments review learning progress by means of written exams at the end of the semester that are sat by a large number of students. Other departments primarily assess their learning objectives alongside the courses or by means of papers. For that reason, there are no general solutions that would be both fair and appropriate for such a diverse higher education institution. That is why the decision as to how to appropriately implement the jointly resolved principles has been left to the faculties. The Executive Board of the University has complete confidence in the faculties’ ability to develop solutions that take into account the students’ situation while simultaneously ensuring the education objectives in their respective subject areas.

When will it be decided if the exams will be online or on site?

As a rule, the dates and formats for the courses have already been determined and published in the course catalogue or communicated via other communication channels of the faculties. All faculties have been asked to advise their teaching staff to enter these details accurately in the course catalogue so that all students know what to expect at the time of booking. However, this is all subject to certain regulatory requirements. If the situation does not change, the implementation modalities will not change in principle.

Why are in-person exams still being held at UZH despite the current situation?

Depending on the type of examination (e.g. testing of practical skills, etc.), in-person examinations may be useful and necessary, but always in strict compliance with the relevant safety measures. Safety concepts are available for in-person examinations, which are within the framework of the official requirements. The implementation of in-person examinations has also been agreed upon among the Swiss universities and found to be feasible overall. 

Can PhD/thesis defenses be held at the moment?

In principle, PhD/thesis defenses can be held digitally, with all participants taking part remotely using digital tools. Since 30 June 2020, PhD/thesis defences may also be held as on-site events again, with few members of family allowed to attend. Social distancing rules must be observed and a list of attendees and their contact details must be made to enable contact tracing.

How will failed attempts be handled in the 2020 Fall Semester?

The wiping of failed attempts was a special measure to address the special situation in FS 2020. However, the HS 2020 no longer represents a special situation; the framework conditions were communicated to everyone in advance. There was sufficient preparation time as well as the possibility to cancel modules in time. For these reasons, such a measure would no longer be justified. Therefore, UZH’s normal regulations for failed attempts apply.

Will failed attempts be included in my transcript of records?

Canceled failed attempts will not be included in your transcript of records. The exam results will be visible for a short time in the summary of credits or in “My results” and will then be cancelled.

Which deadlines apply for papers such as final theses?

Deadlines for papers that cannot be completed in the originally intended form as a result of insufficiently available sources, data or literature can be extended. Alternatively, the papers can be adapted to the new situation. Further details will be provided by your faculty.

I have to go into quarantine. How can UZH ensure that my studies won’t be prolonged as a result?

An ordered quarantine generally does not affect online study and online exams. In the case of face-to-face examinations, the faculties have been instructed to ensure that students in quarantine can still take the examination whenever possible and reasonable. 
However, there are cases, such as practical skills tests, that cannot be held digitally. In these cases, however, there are either other options organized by the faculties, or you have to opt out of the exam for health reasons and can take the retest.

I have been drafted for military or hospital duties and probably will not be able to complete all the requirements for my modules. What should I do?

Please get in touch with your faculty and ask about how to proceed. The faculties will assess how students can submit alternative assessment work or, if this is not possible, will review whether the module can be cancelled outside of the cancellation deadline. This has to be assessed on an individual basis for the modules booked. There is no plan to allocate ECTS credits for military service itself.

Semester Fees:

Can I expect a refund or a reduction of the semester fees?

No, the semester fees will remain unchanged both this semester and next semester. Students who get into financial difficulties due to the current situation can contact the Student Financial Aid Office.


Where can students find places to study?

Study spaces are available at the following locations:

  • Irchel Campus: Y03 G / Y13 G, H, M / Y15 G, H / Y24 G
  • City Campus: KOL E, F, H, K, L, Computer room L, Foyer West, Café Rondell, Lichthof, Catacombs / RAA UG / HAH EG
  • Oerlikon Campus: AFL E 24, E26, Olivenhalle / BIN West, East

Empty lecture halls and classrooms can be used any time for studying (at your own responsibility), provided they are available (“Frei” shown on room display).
UZH Room Management

Other study spaces are available in the UZH libraries.
Study Spaces in the UZH Libraries

Do I need to clean the desks in lecture halls and seminar rooms myself after using them?

There are dispensers with disinfectant wipes at the entrance of lecture halls and seminar rooms used for general teaching which users can take to clean surfaces. Offices of the Deans, institutes, departments, etc. can obtain disinfectant and cleaning materials for use in their own lecture halls and seminar rooms from the UZH department Materials and Logistics (Material und Logistik). The Offices of the Deans, institutes and departments are responsible for procurement and management.
Material und Logistik (in German)

Are the libraries open?

The libraries are open with a limited service. Please check the Libraries website for further information.
Libraries Information

Are the cafeterias and cafés open?

Some UZH cafeterias and cafés are open and offering limited services. For up-to-date information, please visit the ZFV website.
UZH Cafeterias and Cafés

How are cafeterias ensuring that the hygiene and protective measures are observed?

As the operator of cafeterias and cafés, the ZFV has drawn up site-specific safety concepts with the necessary hygiene and protective measures and is responsible for ensuring that these are observed. All customers must adhere to the applicable rules communicated on site.

What opportunities are there to do sport?

The Federal Council decided on 13 January 2021 to extend the previously applicable measures regarding sport and Covid-19 until at least 28 February 2021. The ASVZ therefore remains closed at present. Alternatives are offered via livestream classes and the ASVZ@home videos.
Academic Sports Association Zurich: Closure of sports facilities (in German)
ASVZ: LIVESTREAM-Lektionen (in German)
ASVZ: ASVZ@home-Videos (in German)