Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following message to University staff and students today (14 January 2022):
"Dear students and colleagues,
Despite the difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new year is off to a good start at the University of Iceland. The government recently announced that a 10-person limit on gatherings will enter into effect at midnight and remain in place until 2 February. However, the restrictions on the education system will remain the same, meaning that there are no further changes to our work at UI.
Many new students began programmes at UI in early January, some on campus and some remotely. I would like to extend a special welcome to all our new students and wish you the best of luck in your studies. You are now following in the footsteps of around 55 thousand Icelanders, taking part in shaping our future and the prosperity of our society.
It can be difficult to find your feet at a large, prestigious university, so we have set up a special web page with all kinds of information to help you navigate the first few weeks. Please do not hesitate to ask if anything is unclear; the web chat on the UI home page can be used to access all service units at the University. I am also certain that your fellow students will be happy to help as best they can.
This morning the board of the Research Fund finalised this year's grant allocations for new research projects. Although the total sum of grant money this year is the largest the Fund has ever awarded, only 23% of applications were successful, which remains a cause for concern. The importance of a strong Research Fund for this nation and all scientific endeavour in Iceland cannot be overstated. Congratulations to all grant recipients on successfully acquiring the funding required to implement these important research projects over the next semesters.
The University of Iceland is an open and comprehensive university. We prioritise meeting the diverse needs of Icelandic society and industry, while fully engaging in the international scientific and knowledge-based community. The new Strategy for UI focuses on international collaboration, equality and societal innovation. These three focuses come together in the Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) programme, organised now for the second time by the University of Iceland and the US Embassy in Iceland. The programme, which is specifically aimed at women in order to counter the gender imbalance in the entrepreneurial sector, is now accepting applications. The programme is designed to support women to develop their business ideas, so if you are a woman with a good idea for a business, please do apply. Last year's programme was extremely successful and many of the participants' businesses have grown and flourished, with some even ready to expand into international markets.
Industrial innovation is often based on technological developments. It is therefore gratifying to see the success and growth of the UI Engineering Technology Centre, which is run in partnership with the municipality of Hafnarfjörður. The number of people studying engineering technology has grown by around a third over the last three years and the Centre is now being expanded still further, to the benefit of Icelandic industry. The Engineering Technology Centre places significant emphasis on cultivating links with industry and also offers multidisciplinary, highly practical diplomas in a range of technical subjects.
Dear students and colleagues,
The spread of the coronavirus is certainly concerning and the Department of Civil Protection has now declared a distress phase. Landspítali University Hospital is also in a critical position. Although the situation looks bleak, we must stay the course in order to protect our society and our University, which is the foundation of our future economy! Let's stand firm together. Follow the public health rules at all times; let's keep our distance, wash and disinfect our hands and remember to wear face masks. If you notice even very minor symptoms, do not attend University. We should all get vaccinated against COVID-19, because research has confirmed that fully vaccinated people are less likely to become seriously ill and are also much less likely to require hospitalisation.
By taking precautions, we can protect not only ourselves but also everyone around us and Icelandic society as a whole.
Have a good weekend.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"