University A–Z


Apart from financing, the most urgent question at the beginning of your studies is: Where do I find accommodation? In Bielefeld and Minden, the Studierendenwerk (student service organisation) operates student dorms. From small flats for one person to rooms in shared flats of 5, there is something to suit everyone’s needs. Student accommodation is also provided by other institutions or housing cooperatives. And many students will, of course, find their “den” on the free housing market.

AStA (student union)

AStA is elected by the student parliament and represents students’ interests within the university. Students get involved in AStA in so-called “Referate,” which are groups that work on various issues individually or jointly. Please find more information on AStA at [in German].

Auditorium maximum (Audimax)

The Audimax is the largest lecture theatre in a university or university location. The Audimax in the main building of HSBI has 450 seats, the Audimax on Minden Campus has 200 seats.

BAföG (state financial assistance for education)

The Federal Law on Education and Training Grants (“Bundesausbildungsförderungsgesetz” or BAföG for short) regulates state financial assistance for the education of school and university students in Germany. The abbreviation BAföG is also used for the financial support paid in accordance with the law. It usually depends on your parents’ income and social factors (such as siblings who are also pursuing studies) whether you’re entitled to receive BAföG. Nevertheless, there is also parent-independent BAföG. So it may be worth applying for it!
Studierendenwerk Bielefeld is responsible for advising the students of HSBI on BAföG matters. You can complete the application online.

Bielefeld University (Universität Bielefeld)

Not to be confused with Hochschule Bielefeld (or HSBI), Bielefeld University is located right on the other side of tram line 4 on the same campus. Bielefeld University is a “full university” with somewhat stricter regulations as to who can study there and studies not being as practice-oriented as at a university of applied sciences.

Buddy programme

Coming to live in another country and a different culture can be frightening. The first few weeks especially may be confusing and it is good to know that there is somebody you can rely on. The Buddy programme is designed to help you settle in more comfortably and smoothly. Since 1999, experienced students who are familiar with life in Bielefeld have aimed to help international students.


The word campus is Latin and means “field”. In academia it means the university premises, which usually accommodate several teaching and office buildings, the library, canteen and possibly sports facilities. In Minden, HSBI has a classic campus: All university buildings are close to each other and form a closed area. In Bielefeld, it shares a campus with Bielefeld University. Gütersloh Campus is located in a building in the city centre and in a building next to the train station. It’s intended to be expanded in the future.


The CampusCard is a multifunctional chip card. It serves as your student ID and library card, as payment method for the cafeterias and canteens of Studierendenwerk (the student service organisation) and it gives you access to the University Sports Service in Bielefeld. In addition, you can use it to open and lock doors and lockers in the main building on Bielefeld Campus. Students of HSBI can request a CampusCard with the Data Processing Centre.

Career portal

HSBI has established a career portal exclusively for its students. On it, you will find job offers from local companies and the university itself, which regularly seeks student assistants. In addition, there are offers for internships, theses or trainee programmes. You can also filter by field of study and type of job, which comes in very handy. Only matriculated students have access to the portal, however.

Compulsory attendance

In general, attendance is NOT compulsory at German state-run universities. It may, however, be that for some seminars or lectures, you have to attend a minimum of courses (e.g. 80% of courses) to be allowed to take an exam. Please make sure to check the relevant module catalogues or ask teaching staff about their individual expectations.

Credit points

You can collect credit points during the course of your studies. They measure the workload spent on one module and are also called credits or ECTS credits (ECTS stands for European Credits Transfer System). One credit stands for 30 hours of workload. Thus, if a module has 5 credit points, students are expected to work a total of 150 hours (5 x 30 hours) on the module: The workload may consist of attending courses, preparing and following up on them, preparing for the module examination or writing a term paper. Credit points do not show the quality of your work. The quality of your work will be represented by your grades.


The dean is the head of a faculty. They are mainly responsible for teaching and research to operate smoothly. Deans are always professors and head their faculty for several years after they have been elected to their office.


The first step towards becoming a student is matriculation, i.e. registration with the university as a student. When you have finished your studies (successfully or not), you will be deregistered and no longer be a part of the list of students. Please note: You will have to re-register and pay your semester contribution each semester, or else you might get deregistered!

Entrance examination

In an entrance examination, a student’s skills necessary for a certain study programme are assessed. At HSBI, an entrance examination must be passed for the study programme Design with its four fields of study: Digital Media and Experiment, Photography and Visual Media, Communication Design and Fashion, and for the bachelor’s degree programme in Architecture. Please contact Student Advising and Counselling for further information.

Examination regulations

Every study programme has its own examination regulations. It’s worth having a look at them because they form the legal basis for your studies and define, for example, how often you may re-take examinations or the standard time to degree for your study programme.

Fachschaftsrat (FSR – faculty student body)

FSRs are the student representatives at the individual faculties. They represent a faculty’s students towards the dean and establish contact with FSRs of other universities. Apart from traditional parties, FSRs organise information events, student assemblies and protest campaigns. Many FSRs also offer an exam service or sell teaching material. FSRs are your point of contact if you encounter any problems during your studies and are happy to give you advice. You can contact them during their office hours (see notice board) or by phone.


There are six faculties at HSBI. Every faculty is headed by a dean. As a student, you will always be part of one specific faculty. All faculties have a faculty council, which is a control committee that also has student representatives who are regularly appointed in elections.

Financing your studies

Studying is expensive. For advice on possibilities to finance your studies, please consult HSBI’s Student Advising and Counselling.


In Germany, GEZ (abbreviation for “Gebühreneinzugszentrale”) is notorious for its inspectors who used to ring every doorbell to check whether the occupants possessed a TV or radio. Nowadays, the name has changed to “Rundfunkbeitrag” and their reputation has improved a little, but you should still make sure to pay for your TV licence. Every household that owns a TV, radio or computer must pay a monthly fee, which can be split with your roommates if you live in a shared flat. The fee currently amounts to €18.36 per month and pays for public broadcasting services.


At HSBI, ILIAS has nothing to do with Greek mythology: it’s the name of the university’s e-learning platform. In ILIAS, you will find lecture materials that you can download anytime.

International Office

HSBI has more than 100 partner universities in 35 countries worldwide and provides the possibility to gain study-related international experience. Please contact the International Office for all questions related to studies and internships abroad. Its members will advise you on organising and financing a stay abroad and it also awards scholarships.

IT services

If you need assistance in setting up your university e-mail account or connecting to the university wifi, you can visit the IT service’s website at and check their FAQs.


HSBI has established a career portal exclusively for its students. On it, you will find job offers from local companies and the university itself, which regularly seeks student assistants. In addition, there are offers for internships, theses or trainee programmes. You can also filter by field of study and type of job, which comes in very handy. Only matriculated students have access to the portal, however.

Keller and other pubs

The “Keller” is a student pub on Minden Campus and – the name says it all – is located in a basement. It also hosts parties, e.g. the legendary annual Halloween party. Apart from that, there are lots of other pubs to explore in Bielefeld, Minden and Gütersloh.


At universities in Germany, students knock on their tables when a course ends in order to show their appreciation. Just form a loose fist and knock on the table. The intensity and length depends on how much the audience enjoyed the lecture.


These German words are used for fellow students. It derives from the Latin word “commilitio”, which means “fellow warrior” or “comrade”.

Learners’ lab

The learners’ lab is a service area that is run by the university library and the Data Processing Centre in the main building on Bielefeld Campus in order to support research-based learning and teaching. It consists of nine individually designed rooms for groups, three computer labs and a “media lounge” for larger groups or several groups to use simultaneously. Study groups can book these rooms to study together, do research, discuss or prepare presentations.

Lecture-free period

The lecture-free period is also called semester break. It follows after the courses of a semester have ended. During this period, there are no regular courses. Students use these weeks for internships, to write term papers, to prepare for exams – and to relax, of course.


Matriculation is the registration at a university, which makes someone a student. It is handled by the registrar’s and examination office after you have successfully applied and received your admissions letter. Matriculation becomes valid after you have paid your semester contribution.

Matrikelnummer (student ID number)

Every student has an ID number. The word “Matrikel”, which originates from Latin, means the list of students at a university. That’s why every student receives a “Matrikelnummer” at matriculation.


“Mensa” is the German word for canteen or refectory. On Bielefeld Campus, it is run by the student service organisation and offers inexpensive meals so that you won’t have to study on an empty stomach even if your budget is tight. The Mensa is situated in Building X, just a few minutes’ walk from the main building of HSBI. Snacks and drinks can also be bought from the cafeteria in the main building.
On Minden Campus, the Mensa is situated in Building D.

Module catalogue

The module catalogue describes all modules (courses) of a study programme and it’s part of the relevant examination regulations. You will find the regulations on your study programme’s page in the download box under “Ordnungen und weitere Dokumente.”

Numerus Clausus (N.C.)

This is one of the parameters by which admissions to certain study programmes are restricted. The Numerus Clausus (N.C.) is not a fixed value. It depends on the number of applicants and their qualification levels (grades etc.) in an application period. If the number of applicants is higher than the number of places, a ranking by grades is created. The grade on the threshold of offer and demand describes the N.C.

Office hours

At German universities, employees and lecturers usually have certain office hours, during which you can just drop in to talk about any issues or questions you may have. Some lecturers, however, may want to know you are planning to talk to them in advance. Please make sure to check for office hours or individual preferences on the staff members’ profiles in the Staff A–Z (Personenverzeichnis).

Optimising study progress

HSBI wishes to support its students with particular regard to their maths and writing skills. Therefore, the project “Optimising study progress” was created: At each faculty, there are experts for maths skills and information literacy and writing skills that students can turn to. They also offer specific tutorials.

Preparatory course

Courses that are held before the start of the first semester of your studies are called preparatory courses. They serve to teach skills that are not generally part of the knowledge obtained at school, but that are needed for the chosen study programme from the beginning, e.g. advanced maths skills for engineering studies or language skills. It is recommended you attend them!

Public transport

All students will receive a semester ticket to use in buses, trams and local trains throughout North Rhine-Westphalia. For this, part of the semester contribution is given to the respective transport services through AStA. Using public transport is thus not entirely free, but very inexpensive.


Germany is a country that is famous for its punctuality. It is therefore advisable to be on time or even five minutes early for appointments, lectures and seminars. You will make a better impression if you keep that in mind.

Quality assurance

QA plays an important role at universities, too. Therefore, students will be asked to fill in questionnaires on courses and the university in general when they start studying and from time to time during their studies. This helps to assure and improve quality.


Students have to re-register at the university each semester, otherwise they might get deregistered. For re-registration, the semester contribution has to be paid.

Registrar’s and examination office

The registrar’s and examination office takes care of all organisational matters concerning studies at HSBI. This includes applications and admissions, matriculation, re-registration, semesters of leave, deregistration and examination matters.

Reserve list

After the end of the application period, the registrar’s and examination office will process applications and send out admissions letters. For study programmes with restricted admission that receive more applications than there are places, not all applicants will be admitted directly. In the first (main) round, the applicants with the best school-leaving grades will be admitted. Nevertheless, not all applicants accept their place. Many apply to other universities as well and decide to register elsewhere. Therefore, we have a reserve list of further applicants that might be admitted. Sometimes, there are several rounds of admissions. It depends on the number of applicants and on how many applicants accept the place they are offered. See also: Numerus Clausus.


Scholarships are a great way to finance your studies. Many scholarships are based on performance, but there are also a lot of scholarships that are awarded for social commitment or by other criteria. For advice on scholarships and financing your studies, please consult Student Advising and Counselling.


The word derives from the Latin “semestris” and describes a six-month period. Thus, a semester is a half-year of studies at a university. At HSBI, a year of studies comprises the winter semester (1 September–28/29 February) and the summer semester (1 March–31 August). Lectures take place from the end of September until the beginning of February and from the end of March until mid-July only; the rest of the year is the so-called lecture-free period. Please find the current and upcoming semester and lecture periods on the university website.

Semester contribution

The semester contribution is the fee that the university imposes on each student per semester. It comprises the mobility contribution for the semester ticket, the social contribution for the student service organisation and the student contribution for AStA. Additional costs might apply for some study programmes. You can view all contributions at

Semester of leave

A semester of leave can be granted by the university upon request when a student cannot attend courses, e.g. due to sickness or family commitments. There must usually be a good reason for the request. During a semester of leave, students are not entitled to BAföG – except for a stay abroad for which they may receive “Auslands-BAföG” upon application.

Semester ticket

Students can use the semester ticket in all buses, trams and local trains in North Rhine-Westphalia. See also: Public transport

Standard time to degree

The standard time to degree is the period in which you should be able to finish all examinations and your thesis. Some bachelor’s study programmes have a standard time to degree of 6 semesters, some are designed to take 7 semesters. The standard time to degree is defined in the examination regulations and also comprises work terms or stays abroad, but not semesters of leave. If your studies take more time than the standard time to degree, this might affect your entitlement to BAföG, which is why you should inform yourself in due time.

Stay abroad

HSBI has more than 100 partner universities in 35 countries worldwide and provides opportunities to gain study-related international experience. Please contact the International Office for all questions related to studies and internships abroad. Its members will advise you on organising and financing a stay abroad and it also awards scholarships.

Student Advising and Counselling

Student Advising and Counselling advises you on all questions regarding taking up and carrying out your studies. Counselling is confidential and can be arranged in person, via telephone or e-mail.

Student parliament (StuPa)

The student parliament is the highest-ranking committee of the student body. It adopts the budget, sends out student representatives to other university committees and elects and monitors the work of AStA. StuPa members are all matriculated students of HSBI and are elected to the committee. The larger a faculty, the more seats it can occupy with students of its own.

Studierendenwerk (student service organisation)

Studierendenwerk takes care of students’ social, economic and cultural concerns. For example, it operates student dorms and canteens. Its employees are also the contact persons for topics like BAföG, childcare and counselling. Studierendenwerk Bielefeld is responsible for the students of HSBI.

Study group

We recommend you to look for a study group. If you meet with your study group regularly, it will help structure your workload. And it’s much more fun than brooding over your books on your own.


In a tutorial, content from a lecture or seminar is repeated and enhanced by practical application. Tutorials are usually held by students from higher semesters.

Undergraduate studies

Undergraduate studies are studies that lead to a first university degree, i.e. bachelor’s degree studies.


The working service point for international student applications is an association supported by approximately 170 German universities. uni-assist provides processing and evaluation for international student applications.

Prospective students who have obtained their university entrance qualification or their first university degree (bachelor) outside Germany have to apply via uni-assist.

Further information on applying with certificates issued abroad

University Sports Service

Sports are a great way to relax.

On Bielefeld Campus, you can wear yourself out at the university sports hall, at the university gym »Unifit« or in one of the courses offered by the University Sports Service, such as basketball, table tennis or tae bo. HSBI also has its own runners’ club and there are a number of sports clubs in Bielefeld and its surroundings. The local Volkshochschule (adult education centre) also provides many opportunities to do sports.

In Minden, the university cooperates with the local sports club 1860 Minden e.V., so that students can be active there, too.

There is no official university sports initiative in Gütersloh (yet), but the university building “Gleis 13” is located right next to a gym.

Web mail

Every matriculated student automatically receives a HSBI e-mail address. It usually looks like this: The university or your faculty send all kinds of information to this e-mail address, so make sure to check for important messages regularly. Automatic forwarding to your private e-mail account is possible.

Werkschau (portfolio review)

At the end of each semester, graduates of the Faculty of Design and Art present their work for one weekend at the “Werkschau” in the Lampingstraße building. It is definitely worth going there, for students of all subjects!


In the university buildings, you will be able to use the university wifi, called eduroam (this is available and works with your access data at other universities and certain other institutions, too). For information on how to connect to it, please visit the IT Service’s FAQs.


ZSB is the German abbreviation for Zentrale Studienberatung. For more information, see Student Advising and Counselling.