To say that we are going through a period that will go down in history is no exaggeration. This global pandemic affects all parts of society, socially and economically. Up till now, our focus has been on tackling the immediate situation, and we can only speculate about how it will affect us in the long run.
In March, we and the other higher education institutions in Sweden took the decision to switch to distance education and to conduct all teaching and all examinations remotely. I am impressed with the fact that the transition was so fast and of such high quality, both here at the University and in the sector as a whole.
Now, we have taken a decision that we intend to return to campus-based teaching in the autumn. Still, we will ensure that prevailing recommendations on how to limit the spread of the virus form the basis when we plan all teaching and examination.
"We need patience, flexibility and persistence"
I am aware of the fact that this is a great challenge. There are still issues that need to be solved, and recommendations issued by the authorities regarding the pandemic are changed on a regular basis. Right now, we can’t know what the situation will be like in the autumns. For this reason, we need patience, flexibility and persistence.
But everything hasn’t been about the pandemic this spring. We have continued our strategic work; we have a new vision, a new mission statement as well as new core values in place, which will all guide us in developing our University. Soon, we will have a new strategy for our education and research for the coming decade. I hope that we will be able to discuss this in more detail in the autumn and that our new strategy will guide us in our continued planning of our activities.
"More people will turn to higher education"
We can also be pleased about the fact that our University still has many applicants per place. No other Swedish university college has more first choice applicants to programmes in the autumn. We can also expect that expectations on us a higher education institution will grow. Many people are affected by the ongoing transition in society, and more people will turn to higher education for professional development or a career change. This is a challenge that we as a higher education institution with an important role to play in the region, and with the ambition to have national and international impact, must accept.
"Keep going, keep your distance and keep together"
To sum up, I would like to encourage you in your continued work with these words: Keep going, keep your distance and keep together.
In this way, we will able to fulfil the expectations of our principals, of society and, not least, fulfil our own expectations of ourselves.
I hope that we will all have few weeks of recuperation in the summer that will give us new energy for the coming autumn and our continued work here at our University.