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Coming together for the start of the academic year

Semester start at UiA is fun, social and incredibly exciting. It is also a time where studies, learning and subjects are in focus. The academic year starts on 15 August.

The image shows a group of students at Campus Kristiansand
SEMESTER START: Monday 15 August is semester start with physical attendance and without restrictions, which is the first time since before the pandemic broke out. Here from 2019. Archive photo: UiA

“It will be nice to have students back on campus. This is the first regular welcome week since the pandemic, so we are looking forward to it!” says Rector Sunniva Whittaker.

Just over 4,500 first-year students and 8,500 other students will be arriving at our campuses in Kristiansand and Grimstad on the third week of August. When they arrive, they are welcomed by lecturers and ‘faddere’ (student buddies). Staff and experienced fellow students work together to ensure that the start of student life is as good as possible.

“Many new and returning students have had a tough time over the last two years. They’ve had a lot of remote learning, and many have never taken an ordinary exam. We take that into account from day one, by offering a start to the academic year that says they are very welcome at UiA, that it is good and safe to be here, and that we strive to give them a quality academic and social student life at our university”, says Rector Sunniva Whittaker

Bildet viser dekan Hans Hodne ved Fakultet for humaniora og pedagogikk, studentleder Kristian Fredrik Meyer Ødegård i Studentorganisasjonen i Agder, Marianne Tønnessen i PULS, fadder-koordinator Christina Kvernevik, rektor Sunniva Whittaker og prosjektleder for studiestartuka, Gro Hodne Gundersen. De står samlet foran hovedinngangen på Campus Kristiansand.

Semester start is an important joint event for the entire university. From left: Dean Hans Hodne at the Faculty of Humanities and Education; Kristian Fredrik Meyer Ødegård, president of the Student Organisation in Agder; Marianne Tønnessen at PULS; ‘fadder’ coordinator Christina Kvernevik; Rector Sunniva Whittaker and welcome week coordinator, Gro Hodne Gundersen.

Close follow-up throughout the week

The first week of the academic year therefore differs slightly from the first week of previous years. Attention to learning, teaching and academic activities is strengthened, and the festival feel is toned down somewhat.

“This in no way means that we believe that the social side of student life is less important than before. Social activities are a very important part of student life. Many people look forward to making new friends and meeting others when they start studying. We know that, and we take good care of that aspect”, says coordinator for welcome week at UiA, Gro Hodne Gundersen.

“We know that the link between well-being, social safety and learning is important. Students need a good learning environment where they feel safe, seen and valued. That is why welcome week this year is organised in closer collaboration with the faculties than before, to ensure the new students are introduced to the course, the lecturers and the people they will be studying alongside”, she says.

Opening ceremony, introductory meetings and activities

This year, the various faculties and study programmes organise their own activities for their students, in addition to the ‘fadder’ scheme.

“On the very first day, all students must attend the introductory meeting for their study programme. In addition, they are invited to the formal opening ceremony at UiA, where the main speaker is the Minister of Research and Higher Education Ola Borten Moe. After that, the faculties, ‘faddere’, academic societies and student organisations take over. Together, they ensure that the start of the academic year is smooth, both academically and socially throughout the week”, says Gro Hodne Gundersen.

Bildet viser en forelesning. En kvinnelig foreleser står foran i et undervisningslokale og foreleser.

University lectures and study techniques are two of the topics covered in a new compulsory course for all new students this year. Here from a lecture in the bachelor's programme in business administration before the Covid pandemic. Archive photo: UiA

Compulsory course for new students

New this year is that all new students are invited to an introductory course, "Become a student!" The course explores the skills you need to become an independent and confident student. Topics covered include what to expect from student life, what the university expects from students and study techniques. The course also provides information about exams, deadlines, how to use sources and academic writing.

Students are also offered a separate course that introduces them to the systems used at the university. Here, students get assistance with login and password, learn how to get a student card, register for the semester, get transcripts, results and exam dates and a number of other practical things that are needed to make student life as easy as possible. This also includes training related to Canvas, the learning platform used by UiA.

Student towns also welcome students

The student organisation in Agder - STA - is pleased that UiA is strengthening its academic focus during welcome week.

“We know that for some it can be too much of a festival, so we welcome the shift in focus. Not least now that much has been different during the two years of pandemic”, says STA President Kristian Fredrik Meyer Ødegård.

“But it may be that those who have studied some years will miss the big concert, which for many years has been a part of welcome week at UiA. Fortunately, the social events that are planned throughout the week are very good”, he says.

The STA president also emphasises that the student towns of Kristiansand and Grimstad are right outside the campuses. In both towns there are many cultural events and concerts which students can take part in.

“All in all, we expect a great welcome week at UiA this year as well. It will be a little different to other years, with a bit more emphasis on the academic. But all in all, something to look forward to!” he says.