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The University of Gothenburg, Vasaparken
Photo: Johan Wingborg

Teaching both digital and on-campus this autumn


Although the government has withdrawn its recommendation for remote studies, the return to campus this autumn will be limited. This is because other recommendations to help reduce the spread of the covid-19 infection still apply.

On March 17, the government recommended that teaching, from upper secondary school to university college levels, be conducted remotely. Last week, the government withdrew this recommendation. But this does not mean a return to the way things were before the pandemic. As with other workplaces, the University of Gothenburg follows the recommendations of The Public Health Agency of Sweden in order to reduce the spread of infection.

“The autumn term will therefore require mixed forms of teaching, that is, a combination of on-campus teaching and digital teaching. Regarding travel, the guidelines and recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Sweden and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs continue to apply. And until otherwise announced, temporary remote work recommendations continue, in order to be able to maintain distance and to avoid congestion in our premises,” says Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg.

New strategic decision - limited and adapted return to campus teaching

In mid-May, the Vice-Chancellor issued a strategic decision for the autumn semester 2020. After the government’s announcement last week, on Thursday, June 4, the Vice-Chancellor, revised the strategic decision to allow for a limited and adapted return to teaching on campus.

“In effect, the message from the government does not change much for us, as large parts of the initial strategic decision still apply. The main difference is that the distance education requirement has been lifted. Now the organisation must therefore carefully review and determine which groups should be prioritised to be on campus,” says Eva Wiberg.

Adapted return for prioritised activities and operations

Activities and operations, and students that will be prioritised for on-campus education are introductory course components for students starting their education, students who are completing their final year of study, international students who reside in Sweden, examinations that are not possible to carry out remotely, teaching components with aesthetic, practical and laboratory elements, field studies and VFU placements.

“We are a large higher education institution, and it will be different for different students depending on what and where they study. Faculties and departments plans will allow for the general recommendations to be followed, meaning that the degree of campus teaching will differ. Planning is underway, and all students will receive information from their department or similar”, says Eva Wiberg.

International programmes and courses for international students, as well as courses for incoming exchange students, are planned to be given on campus during the autumn, featuring some digital components. For those international students who are unable to travel to Sweden due to travel restrictions in their home countries, remote studies will be provided.

“I realise that the start of the autumn term will be different from what many originally expected, especially for new students. We will do our utmost to make everyone feel welcome at the University of Gothenburg, whether they start digitally or on campus,” says Eva Wiberg

Staff start the autumn with temporary remote work

As previously announced, the University's staff, where possible, should continue with temporary remote work. Staff who are needed onsite for the adapted return to campus-based education should be given priority to work on the University's premises.

Logistic challenge

The limited and adapted return to campus will require major coordination efforts and is a logistical challenge. All activities that involve physical presence must be coordinated, for example, within and between faculties and departments, and with the university library so that there are not too many people crowded in one place at the same time.

“As I have said before, the pandemic requires a great deal of flexibility from us, and we may have to deal quickly with new conditions. But there is no alternative, and same as the Minister of Education, Matilda Ernkrans, I believe we can manage this together,” says Eva Wiberg.

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