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How UiA prepares for the autumn semester

Much is uncertain, and no one knows what the autumn semester will be like - except that everyone hopes we will return to some normality in the autumn.

Campus Grimstad (øverst) og Campus Kristiansand

University of Agder - Campus Grimstad (top) and Campus Kristiansand

So far, we still don’t know when everyone over the age of 18 will have been fully vaccinated - or whether new strains will arise, thereby confusing the situation.

The health and safety of our students and a normal study progression for our students are our top priorities, and these will continue to be UiA’s key principles in the autumn semester. Therefore, coronavirus restrictions will remain in place and teaching will mostly be delivered online from semester start. It is better to ease up when things are going well rather than to reintroduce restrictions should there be an outbreak on campus.

  • Infection control is important - the 1-metre rule applies from semester start.
  • Teaching will be both online and face-to-face. Offering in-person learning opportunities is a priority. Some of the teaching will be delivered at external premises.
  • The first week is an introductory week, both academically and socially. A lot of practical information is given about social activities as well as academic matters. Infection prevention is important.
  • Exams will largely be completed online this autumn as well.

A precautionary approach

Since so much is uncertain, restrictions will not be eased at semester start. We must all follow the basic principles – and also take course in protective measures:

  1. Stay at home if you know you are sick - and take a test.
  2. Keep a distance of one metre from others.
  3. Wash your hands often, or use hand sanitiser.
  4. Use QR codes where relevant. This makes contact tracing easier, and only the persons nearest you will be affected should you have to self-isolate.

In addition, UiA asks everyone to register in NIPH’s Smittestopp app, because this makes infection tracking easier, not least in common areas - and that can help us avoid having to close down campus.

Semester start

The introductory meetings will be held online and will take place between 09:00 and 11:00 on Monday 16 August. Afterwards, the students are invited on campus to meet fellow students in their programme, and to be introduced to what the faculties and UiA as a whole have to offer.

“The most important thing is for the students to come to campus at the agreed time and find the buddy group they have been allocated to. The buddy of each group has received a contact list in advance, so each group can agree on a meeting place”, says Gro Hodne Gundersen, who is the project coordinator for semester start at UiA.

In the buddy groups, the students meet a buddy and other students from their programme. The aim is for them to get to know other students and get a good introduction to student life.

Each buddy is an experienced student who knows the faculty and preferably the programme the buddy group belongs to. Thus, the introduction is made by people who are well acquainted with what the new students will face.

Faculty tents

The buddy groups go to their faculty tent, where they register. They are informed about how to register in advance, and the information can also be found on the semester start webpage on uia.no.

“The faculties introduce themselves and inform about their programmes and other relevant things. We plan to limit the number of people in each tent. The groups will have a maximum of 200 people. It is important that the students meet at the right time, to avoid queues and crowding to get in and out of the tents”, Gro Hodne Gundersen says.

The tent gatherings are a good way for students to connect socially with people from their programme. Here the students will also be introduced to the various student associations affiliated with the faculty.

“Everyone will be there, and there should be something there for everyone, but the content of the tents varies between faculties”, the project coordinator says.

Onboarding with courses and information online

A large number of courses and programmes have been organised to give the students the information they need to get a good start.

“More is online now than before the pandemic. The Division of IT, for example, has made short video clips about how to register, create a password, download software and other things you need to get started”, Gundersen says.

It is a big transition for the students to come from secondary school to higher education. PULS - UiA's Centre for Teaching and Learning - will organise workshops to help facilitate the transition.

“We think it is best to start with practical information and social activities connected with each programme”, says project coordinator Gro Hodne Gundersen - and adds that the library, UiA and the Student Welfare Organisation in Agder (SiA) all offer useful courses throughout the semester.