This is how the new academic year will be at USN

Students entering campus Porsgrunn. Photo
BACK ON CAMPUS: All students need physical meeting points and therefore they will be offered on-campus teaching activities, regardless of the nature of the subject. (Photo: Tine Poppe/USN)

«There is reason to be optimistic. Infection rates are gradually declining, and vaccination rates are steadily going up» says Rector Petter Aasen.


The signals from both the Ministry and FHI indicate that we should be able to expect that the students have had access to the first vaccine dose before the start of the semester.

This gives Rector Petter Aasen reason to believe in an autumn semester similar to the time before Covid-19:

«Nevertheless, experience has shown us that there may come changes at short notice, which in turn challenge us in terms of creating a predictable framework. In other words, we hope for a Fall semester similar to a time before Covid-19, but we must also plan for a semester with some infection control measures. The Fall semester starts therefore with some infection control measures when it comes to keeping one meter distance lasting at least until the end of September, but we hope to open up to a normal situation as soon as possible» says Aasen.

First week of study

Studies will commence for all first-year students on the 16th and 17th of August. The study start will be spread over two days.

«We are working on the details of the official program as well as the start-up dates and times for the various programs (the students in Rauland start on Monday, 23rd of August). The new students will be given a priority for on-campus teaching for the first two weeks. Students in older cohorts will be able to start with digital teaching from 18th of August. We are glad to have many student mentors from older cohorts to help the new students during the first week (week 33)» says Aasen.

Physical meeting points for all students

USN now have a cohort that has not experienced ordinary teaching nor academic/social physical contact during their studies. Aasen therefore expects the program coordinators to plan for some physical meetings for the 2nd and 3rd year students during the first two weeks of the semester.

«First-year students will have special priority at the start of their studies, but from Monday, 30th of August, the faculties will have to distribute the on-campus learning activities in a manner in which all students will be offered some physical learning activities,» says Aasen.

Study start for session-based and online study programs

Rector Petter Aasen says the faculties may arrange on-campus sessions for students taking online or session-based courses from and including Monday, 13th of September. Local outbreaks may mean that restrictions again apply regarding to the physical gatherings on campus. The academic staff must therefore plan for a digital plan B.

Class schedules for on-campus classes

All students need physical meeting points and therefore they will be offered on-campus teaching activities, regardless of the nature of the subject. All courses will therefore plan for both teaching on-campus and for digital teaching. The class schedules will be published no later than 15th of July.

«If the Covid 19 situation allows for a more normal implementation of the teaching than we now plan for, we will change the class schedules as fast as possible. How quickly this can be done will vary from campus to campus depending on how complex the class schedules are, access to resources and the group sizes.» says Aasen.

The term "digital classroom" will be used for all-digital lectures in the class schedules.

Digital competence and digital tools

Zoom is the preferred tool for digital teaching in the Fall semester.

USN plan supervised training in the professional study programs as we normally would, but for infection control reasons we will plan for digital tutoring to the extent that it is feasible.

Teaching after 5 PM 

USN has opened up for the possibility of holding classes until 6 PM to provide best possible on-campus offer for students in this extraordinary situation. It is necessary to use the whole day from 08:00 AM to 6 PM to utilize the capacity at the various campuses in compliance with the infection control measures.

Exams

Because the unpredictable infection situation this Fall, USN encourage the academic staff to offer digital home exams also in the Fall of 2021.

«In some subjects areas it has been challenging to create good exam assignments when all aids are available. It will therefore be possible to conduct written examinations on-campus during this Fall's ordinary examination period providing that the infection control rules and infection situation allow it. It is still important to prepare alternatives to school examinations.» says Rector Petter Aasen.

Temporary regulations for studies and exams at USN are valid until 15th of January 2022.