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Happy Easter

Published: 8 April 2020

Easter is approaching and I hope you all have the opportunity to enjoy this beautiful season between winter and spring.

Before our well-deserved Easter holiday, I would like to take the opportunity to update you on what is happening at the universities in the light of the corona pandemic. There have been a number of requests from the Ministry of Education if we have the capacity to increase our educational offerings. These requests have had very short deadlines, as the government is keen to mitigate the consequences of covid-19. In our responses, we have announced that we can increase the number of students in most courses and programmes, open up more of our programme courses, offer more summer courses and prepare new types of preparatory programmes.

Increase opportunities for education

These requests are the government's way of ensuring, as far as possible, that investments in universities in the spring amending budget for 2020 contribute to increased educational opportunities for those who, due to the coronavirus pandemic and an uncertain labor market, want to start studying.

The most recent request came on April 3 and focuses on new temporary summer courses (2020) and preparatory programmes (2020 and 2021). The government plans to make preliminary announcements to the higher education institutions at the end of April and come to a decision at the end of June. 

Yesterday afternoon, our Minister for Higher Education and Research, Matilda Ernkrans, called for a meeting to inform the Swedish vice-chancellors about the efforts now being made, but also to thank for the incredible work that is being done at the educational institutions around the country. She was especially grateful for the responsiveness in following the government's advice and recommendations, but also for exploring creative and innovative solutions to the challenges we face in this extraordinary situation. She also emphasized the importance of continuing to support the healthcare with both equipment and personnel.

Insurance applies retroactively

An important issue for us vice-chancellors is that covid-19 is included in the universities' insurances (it is The Legal, Financial and Administrative Services Agency that insures our students). When it comes to health care personnel, Minister for Social Security Ardalan Shekarabi promised yesterday that occupational injury insurance, which regulates who can receive compensation if you get sick or injured at work, will include covid-19 and that this applies retroactively to everyone, including students who have worked within healthcare. We interpret this is also the case for clinical training, but have asked for clarification.

Thank you for your outstanding work performance over the past few weeks and for offering support and assistance to those who need it.

Happy Easter,
Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology.

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