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Welcome back after the holidays!

Published: 17 August 2020

Hope you had a nice holiday with a chance to relax, although the summer has certainly been different in many ways in these corona times.

I´m happy to say, we have a record number of students admitted to the autumn educations. 3112 are admitted to this autumn's entry-level programs, an increase of 433 students compared to last year. Fantastic! We will do everything to make these new students feel welcome, but of course with the utmost respect for covid-19. Therefore, the start of the autumn study will also be different compared to previous years.

Since the spring, the university has worked to make all welcome speeches, information and study preparation lectures digital. The registration is also completely digital this autumn to avoid a crowd at Servicepoint in the B-building. The welcome period is also shortened to 3 days compared to 10 days in normal cases and has advocated pre-registration so that the student unions can divide the students into smaller groups and avoid large crowds. There will be a focus on classroom community.

Important to evaluate the consequences of the pandemic

It is clear that covid-19 will continue to affect our lives, studies and work. As it looks today, we can expect clear restrictions throughout the year and perhaps even longer than that. This makes it even more important that we evaluate both the positive and negative consequences of the pandemic and its effects on our activities. We need to learn lessons from the changes we implemented during the spring to be able to make adjustments and improvements linked to the autumn activities. We also need to analyze which activities we have postponed, with the hope that they could be resumed and implemented during the autumn. Which of these can be moved forward once again and which we must find new ways to implement.

When it comes to distance education, forms to secure legally examination are prioritized. When it comes to telework and distance studies, we need to ensure good physical and mental health of our employees and students, as well as leadership and employees adapted to the prevailing situation. We must also review how we maintain and strengthen international collaborations and carry out important conferences and research projects that for various reasons have been difficult to complete based on given recommendations. In addition, we must prepare for an increased interest in studies and skills development and a possible reduction in research funding.

The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) has also been commissioned by the government to follow up the consequences of the pandemic, and of the decisions and efforts made as a result of this. This includes both the transition to distance education and the expansion of the university. The assignment, which will take place in collaboration with universities and colleges, focuses on issues of quality, legal certainty and dimensioning and extends from autumn 2020 until the end of 2022. ( https://www.regeringen.se/pressmeldanden/2020/06/ university chancellor's office-to-follow-up-consequences-for-college-activities-during-the-corona pandemic / )

Last week, UHR and the government also informed that the autumn university entrance examination will be canceled because they assess that the risk of increased spread of infection is too great as the examination covers approximately 100,000 people. All 21 test organizers, of which Luleå University of Technology is one, have also signaled that we see great challenges in being able to carry out a corona-adapted test. ( https://www.uhr.se/om-uhr/nyheter/2020/hostens-hogskoleprov-bor-inte-genomforas/ )

At the beginning of next week, the principal's strategic council will have its start - up meeting where we will review important activities for the autumn term and coming years. Premises are a standing item on our agenda and include both existing premises and our new house, Deltakvarteret. Experiences, lessons learned and future scenarios linked to corona are another important point together with the quality work and strategic issues and input from the principal, heads of department and deans.

Your input regarding corona strategies and lessons are important and I hope that you convey your suggestions and thoughts to Head of Subject, department heads and heads of division so that we can include them in our work.

I hope for an educational and inspiring autumn with you, even if we have a pandemic to take into account. Unfortunately, this is the reality for universities around the world now.

It's great to have you back!

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

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