Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following message to University staff and students today (19 November 2021):
"Dear students and colleagues,
The December exams are just around the corner, one of the busiest times of the year for most University students. I commend you all, dear students and instructors, for your adaptability and resilience, this being the fourth semester in a row that exams have been held in a pandemic.
The December exams will be organised as they were the last two semesters that we have been grappling with the consequences of the pandemic. We will be holding both on-campus exams and take-home exams and I urge you all to check the published exam timetable carefully. It is entirely natural to be concerned about the current situation, but the University believes that on-campus exams can take place safely as planned. Infection control measures will be in place in all exams and I encourage you all, dear students and instructors, to do everything you can to minimise infection risk and respect distancing rules.
As yet, nobody has been infected in an on-campus exam at UI and there are no known examples of students having to quarantine as a result of attending exams. The overwhelming majority of students and staff are vaccinated, meaning that circumstances are now very different. Nevertheless, I want to take this opportunity to encourage those of you who are yet to get the vaccination to do so at the first opportunity, and those of you who are partially vaccinated to get your second dose or booster shot.
As previously, accommodations will be in place for students who require them, e.g. those who need extra space and distance from others to sit their exams due to underlying risk factors. Students can submit a request for such accommodations here, the application deadline is up to and including Friday, November 26th. I would also like to mention that there is no need to provide a doctor's note when reporting absence due to illness. You can simply send an email from a UI email address to firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember to include the course title and number, your name and your ID number. It is important to report absences as soon as possible, no later than three days after the exam was held. Anyone who is unable to sit a timetabled exam in December due to being in isolation or quarantine will be guaranteed the chance to sit a makeup exam in December or in January 2022.
The University of Iceland strives to cultivate fruitful partnerships with Icelandic industry in order to foster innovation, create jobs, and improve general quality of life. Our collaboration with the biopharmaceutical company Alvotech, for example, has yielded enormous benefits, not least for the University's students. For the second time, Alvotech is now offering paid training programmes in biosimilars, open to anyone who has recently graduated from a UI with a degree in biology, chemistry, biochemistry or pharmacy. More information on the positions is available from the UI Careers Connection.
One of the goals of the University's new strategy is to provide even better support for international research collaboration, expand opportunities for exchange studies, and increase the number of joint degree programmes offered in collaboration with universities abroad. These goals must be prioritised as competition grows fiercer in all fields, not only between universities across the world but also on the international labour market. The Aurora Biannual took place this week in Tarragona in Spain, a meeting of our European partners in the Aurora Network. The focus was on enhancing learning, research and innovation within universities in response to rapid social changes. The Aurora universities already collaborate on research and are working towards offering joint courses, programmes and degrees, particularly in the field of innovation and sustainability in consideration of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The University of Iceland leads Aurora, a network that is in step with latest European trends, receiving special EU funding to strengthen and develop higher education and expand research collaboration within Europe in line with new focuses and challenges.
Dear students and colleagues, We are still wrestling with this pandemic, which has repeatedly disrupted work at the University. If we all take steps to prevent infection, though, we can maintain some level of normality at the University. This is particularly vital, because universities thrive on cooperation and collaboration. Universities are communities, where ideas are generated through contact and dialogue across subjects and programmes. Never forget that new knowledge is created under these circumstances, knowledge can be created, knowledge that can change the world – and every day new friendships are formed, some of which may last a lifetime. We must do our best to defend this innovative community which is so vital for us all, since knowledge is indeed the strongest currency of the future.
Let's take care, stay alert, try to minimise the risk of infection and follow the public health rules at all times.
Have a good weekend.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"