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The Vice-Chancellor's blog: "We are preparing for different scenarios"

Published: 28 April 2020

Many of us at the University have started planning for graduation as well as for the autumn study start.
This raises many questions and concerns – no one knows at what stage of covid-19 Sweden will be in the coming months and therefore not what directives and recommendations will apply. This means that we must make assumptions and prepare for different scenarios for the future.

Study period 4 will be given as distance education and we have started planning for digital examinations. The premises will continue to be accessible for anyone with a keycard and code. The farewell ceremony Islossningen, for the students who are taking their degree this summer, will also take place at a distance. It was a tough decision to make because we know how much all students, relatives and friends looked forward to the festivities and the opportunity to say goodbye to their classmates. For me too, this summer will feel strange as the ceremony with the following dinner is a great example of one of the most important tasks of the academy; to form and educate new generations. The digital ceremony cannot in any way replace the traditional one, but in times like these, I hope that it will at least create a certain sense of closure while giving me, my colleagues and the student unions an opportunity to thank you for your time with us and wish you good luck in the future. You find information about Islossningen here .

Increase of number of applicants

We are very pleased with the large increase we see among first choice applicants for our educations, where civil engineering programs have increased by 14 percent, education, social and behavioral science by 13 percent, and health education by 12 percent. However, the largest increase is in the area "other technology", which increased by more than 30 percent, largely due to a strong interest in the preparatory programme in technology.

We really hope that we will be able to welcome our new students to the niversity in the best of ways, even though the start of the study will be shorter than usual and the teaching will in some cases consist of a mix between campus and distance education. For a higher education institution like ours, where over 80 percent of students are recruited outside the region, it is extra important for students to be able to plan their studies well in advance, as they have to arrange both a move and new accommodation before their start of study.

Teaching in a responsible manner

We have therefore emphasized the importance of being able to carry out the studies on campus and strong arguments for why we believe that the university can conduct campus-based teaching in a responsible manner and without violating the Public Health Agency's general guidelines and recommendations. We have also signaled that we need answers by the end of May so that we and our new students can prepare for campus teaching. A quick and smooth transition from distance to campus  requires that the students are already in place, unless this transition will be quite difficult and time-consuming.

But since the government's recommendation on distance education is still valid, and we have so far received no signals that a change is underway, we plan for both possibilities: a digital start of study on August 19 or a shortened start of study on August 26, depending on the situation. By May 31, we plan to make the final decision on whether it will be digital or physical start of study period 1.

"Continue to follow the recommendations"

In conclusion, I would like to remind everyone how important it is that we continue to follow the government's recommendations and the university's decisions. This means always staying home if you feel the slightest symptoms of illness, study and work from home when possible, keep a distance of at least one and a half meters to other people and finally to wash your hands properly and regularly. Employees who feel signs of depression should contact their manager, and students who feel similarly are encouraged to contact the student health .

I wish you all a good long weekend and hope you discover new, safe and innovative ways to welcome spring since we cannot celebrate as usual.

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

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