The Coronavirus – Information for Students and Employees

Thank you for your effort!

- Thank you so much for the flexibility you have shown and the extra work you have put in during this very demaning time at the university, says Rector Dag Rune Olsen and University Director Kjell Bernstrøm in this open letter to all UiB-employees.

Universitetet i Bergen
Simon Brandseth, UiB

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Dear University of Bergen employee,

On 12 March this year, the government decided to shut down all universities and university colleges due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Since then, all University of Bergen employees have been working diligently and purposefully so that we can reopen the university.

Looking back on these unusual months, we are able to say that the University of Bergen has been steadfast in its management of the consequences of COVID-19. Thanks to the immense efforts and creativity on the part of all employees, our students were quickly offered digital teaching during the spring semester, something that had a positive effect on the learning environment and the achievements of our students. In planning the autumn semester, we have facilitated both physical and digital teaching, allowing the University of Bergen to invite all of its students to return to campus. We are also the only university in Norway that has managed to maintain a student exchange programme.

At the same time, it is important for us to recognise that the formidable efforts have also taken their toll on tutors, administrators and technical staff alike. Teaching arrangements have had to be changed at short notice, several times. Technical solutions have also been implemented without us having had the opportunity to fully test and quality assure them prior to the starting date.

These extraordinary efforts to assist students have, for many of our scientific staff, also been at the expense of key research activities.

The COVID-19 situation in society has changed this autumn, which has resulted in new challenges for both our academic and our administrative staff. The University of Bergen is taking social responsibility to limit the burden on public transport. For many employees, this represents a practical challenge. The University of Bergen has established an excellent infection control system on campus and collaborates closely with the Municipality of Bergen when it comes to infection tracing. As a result, we have so far avoided any large-scale outbreaks on campus. Nevertheless, we can see that the infection control work also represents a major increase in everyday workload, especially in connection with student groups quarantining at short notice, because we then need to be able to offer alternative forms of teaching during the quarantine period.

At the latest board meeting, the University Board praised the University of Bergen for the way in which it has managed the coronavirus crisis. We would like to pass this praise on to you, together with heartfelt thanks for the flexibility you have shown and all the additional work you have undertaken in what is an exceptional situation for the university. We would also like to commend the employee representatives and the safety representatives, who have all demonstrated flexibility and provided constructive feedback on our work.

Unfortunately, we have to prepare for the fact that the coronavirus will continue to affect the university for the duration of this academic year. With this in mind, the university management has informed the Board that, in consultation with managers at all levels, we will provide additional resources and identify solutions to increase capacity in those areas of the organisation where the strain is greatest.

The aim is to create the most predictable working situation possible for all employees during the coming period. Together, we will ensure that the University of Bergen emerges from the coronavirus crisis even stronger than before!

Dag Rune Olsen, Rector

Kjell Bernstrøm, University Director