Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following announcement to students and staff today:
"Dear students and colleagues,
This week, it became clear that the University is expecting an enormous number of new students this autumn, having received almost 12,000 applications for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. This is by far the highest number of applications the University has ever received. 6,700 applications were submitted for undergraduate programmes and around 5,000 for postgraduate programmes. For further details, see the University website (https://english.hi.is/news/record_number_of_applications_at_the_university_of_iceland and https://www.hi.is/frettir/metfjoldi_umsokna_vid_haskola_islands). It is good to see that as the Icelandic economy takes a hit due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, people are choosing to educate themselves to take on new challenges. It is also very gratifying to see an increased demand for teacher and nursing education, since our society is facing a shortage of educated professionals in these fields. However, we know that such a dramatic increase in the student population will test the limits of our staff and infrastructure.
We are currently preparing to map the expected increase in student numbers and determine how we can ensure sufficient teaching staff, support for teachers and other staff, and services to students. Emphasis will be placed on guaranteeing a continuing high standard of teaching and service at the University in these challenging circumstances. The discussion with the government regarding funding for this increase in student numbers is already underway and we hope that additional funding will be awarded to cover the unavoidable expenses ahead. University administrators will keep staff up to date with this work as it progresses.
Teaching in the autumn semester
The organisation of teaching in the autumn semester 2020 will be determined first and foremost by the recommendations of the Chief Epidemiologist and other authorities. The following plan is therefore presented with the caveat that it will be subject to change if official recommendations so require. At this moment, however, it seems likely that the assembly ban will be further relaxed and that society will slowly return to normal. The University has therefore, based on current advice from the Chief Epidemiologist, made the following arrangements for teaching in the autumn semester 2020:
- Teaching will take place on the UI campus.
- Allowances will be made for up to 15% of students on each course requesting extra space, e.g. two metres between seats. Precise arrangements will depend on the individual classroom.
- All teaching staff at the University will use the Canvas learning management system as of autumn 2020.
- The plan is for all examinations to be digital, conducted either online or in University classrooms as appropriate.
If an assembly ban or other circumstances give cause to do so, the University Emergency Response Board will be activated and changes will be made to teaching and UI operations, as happened in the spring semester 2020.
Graduation Ceremony 27 June
The University of Iceland Graduation Ceremony will take place in Laugardalshöll on 27 June in two stages, as in previous years, although there will be some differences. Only candidates receiving their degree certificates will be permitted to attend the ceremony.
In the first stage of the Graduation Ceremony, which starts at 10 am, undergraduate and postgraduate candidates from the School of Health Sciences and the School of Engineering and Natural Sciences will receive their degree certificates.
Undergraduate and postgraduate candidates from the School of Social Sciences, the School of Humanities and the School of Education will receive their degree certificates in the second stage, which starts at 1.30 pm.
Emphasis will be placed on ensuring that the Graduation Ceremony is safe with regard to infection prevention. Laugardalshöll will therefore be partitioned into two areas, marked A and B, with candidates divided between the areas for the ceremony. There will also be a separate area with seats two metres apart for those who wish for extra space – candidates must notify their faculty of their intention to use this area in advance.
University staff will be on hand to instruct candidates on the seating plan.
Guests will not be permitted to attend the ceremony, but there will be a live stream for family, friends and others who want to watch.
Candidates have received an email containing information about the event and are asked to notify their faculty office before 3 pm on Monday 22 June if they are unable to attend the Graduation Ceremony.
Best regards and have a good weekend.
Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector"