Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following message to University staff and students today (3 September 2021):
"Dear students and colleagues,
This week, there were various events to mark the start of the new academic year and we welcomed a sight we have sorely missed as all the University buildings bustled with life, as well as our beautiful grounds so close to Vatnsmýri and the Tjörn.
Our new strategy prioritises advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which have a clear focus on climate and environmental issues. As we finally return to on-campus learning and people start travelling to University again, I would like to encourage you all to choose sustainable transport options. Transport accounts for the largest part of the University's carbon footprint. By choosing sustainable transport we can all take an important step towards a greener university.
One part of the enjoyable process of welcoming our new students this week was presenting almost 40 grants from the University of Iceland Student Achievement and Incentive Fund. The grant recipients had graduated from a range of 15 upper secondary schools across Iceland and enrolled in almost 30 different study programmes at the University of Iceland.
Collaboration between higher education and industry is key to the competitiveness of any nation. The University of Iceland has developed extremely fruitful partnerships with Icelandic industry with the aim of stimulating innovation and the exploitation of ideas that fuel progress in all areas of society.
Next week the University of Iceland will join forces with the biotechnology company Alvotech to offer a symposium on the importance of industry and academia working together to develop new ideas and solutions. The symposium, which is organised in collaboration with the Science Park and the Swedish-Icelandic Chamber of Commerce, will focus on the future and innovation in the field of pharmaceutical development and biotechnology.
Alvotech is one of the cutting-edge companies that have established themselves at the Science Park and the partnership between the University and Alvotech has taken various forms recently. For example, the University has developed a new Master's programme in industrial biotechnology in close collaboration with the company. This programme presents countless opportunities for students to get involved with innovation in biotechnology. Alvotech also recently established a traineeship initiative for recent UI graduates from subjects such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biomedical science, biotechnology and pharmacy.
As University operations gradually return to normal, there are more and more gatherings and events taking place at the University. This is wonderful, but I urge you all to follow the public health rules at all times. The Health and Safety Committee met this week and one of the subjects discussed was refreshments at UI events. The Health and Safety Committee has issued the following guidelines for refreshments at the University:
- Refreshments should only be offered if it is possible to avoid people touching common surfaces, for example by pre-filling glasses and plates.
- Serving alcohol is not recommended, apart from toasting a significant achievement, for example after a doctoral defence or an inauguration ceremony.
- Since the lowering of the upper secondary school leaving age, most new students and a large number of the total student population are under the age of twenty. Serving alcohol to people under the age of twenty is illegal.
Dear students and colleagues, Our ability to maintain on-campus learning and normal operations at the University this semester depends in large part on your resolve and individual precautions against infection. I would therefore like to reiterate the main infection control rules in place at the University, since they are of such vital importance for us all.
- Maintain a distance of 1 metre from other people.
- Masks are required where it is not possible to maintain 1 metre distance.
- To reduce the risk of infection, we recommend that people wear masks in corridors, which are no-stopping zones.
- It is permissible to remove your mask once you are seated in the classroom, even if you are less than 1 metre from other people.
- The maximum number of people permitted in the same space is 200.
- Remember to wash and disinfect hands.
Let's use the weekend to enjoy the natural treasures all around us. Autumn, what a relief, as the poet Bragi Ólafsson wrote, recollecting school bags and the scent of books. Now the leaves are starting to change colour and there are few sights more beautiful than autumn in all its glory.
Have a good weekend.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"