The University of Oulu is welcoming an unprecedented number of students this year, with almost 2,700 new starters. Additional study places were created during the summer in response to the increase in youth unemployment resulting from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the anticipated increase in the number of nationwide study places.
This year’s new students begin with an orientation week, held 31 August to 4 September 2020. Students in the Faculty of Medicine began earlier on 10 August. However, the University campuses are missing the usual frenzy of student activity, as the first autumn teaching period (1 August to 25 October 2020) is mainly taking place remotely due to the coronavirus situation. To help the new starters to get to know each other, their programmes, and the University as a whole, new student orientations are being organised in small groups on campus, taking into account safe social distancing and hygiene requirements.
The remote work recommendation also applies to University staff. Although the aim has been for normal working activities to resume after the first period of distance learning, the coronavirus situation is continuously evolving and this may affect plans. The situation is being closely monitored and the University’s coronavirus response group is basing its decisions on national recommendations. New arrangements and instructions are being prepared for all members of the University of Oulu community, as the situation demands and in a timely manner.
“The coronavirus pandemic has created a new normal for us, with all our lives having been transformed. As a result of the current exceptional circumstances, the University’s opening ceremony for the new academic year is being held virtually. Although this is a significant change, it also gives us an opportunity to reach a much wider audience”, says Jouko Niinimäki, Rector of the University of Oulu. The University’s virtual opening ceremony online at 3.15 pm on 7 September 2020 will include a greeting from the Minister of Science and Culture, Annika Saarikko, and insightful videos of the work of researchers at the University.
New intercultural teacher education student, Otso Clarot, is looking forward to his first year at university with excitement. “I can’t wait to get started with student life. We’ve been meeting up with our fellow first-years and the student tutors in small groups and it’s definitely a great group of people with whom to enjoy the next few years. I’ve got all the info I need regarding my studies and the orientation has been really straightforward, regardless of the coronavirus situation. All I have to do is open my computer and start studying!” Dennis Neumann, a master’s in computer science exchange student, arrived in Oulu a week ago from Siegen, Germany: “I had no problems travelling. Most of the lectures and the orientation week will be online and that is a restriction, of course. Otherwise, my stay has been good so far. My ‘kummi student’ (student tutor) has helped me get my everyday practicalities organised and showed me around the city centre. I’ve also met some of my fellow students in the dorms. There’ll be some get-togethers later on, carefully taking into account the safe social distancing guidelines. I feel quite safe here in Oulu.”
The University of Oulu’s Linnanmaa campus will welcome new neighbours, with 1,500 students starting their studies at Oulu University of Applied Sciences (OAMK). The campus has been renovated in order to provide new premises for OAMK, which will be become home to all students apart from those in the health and welfare programmes. “The beginning of the academic year is always a time of celebration, although this autumn is quite unusual. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we have, for the most part, transitioned to distance teaching and learning and remote work. We are also pleased to be opening the renovated facilities in Linnanmaa”, says Anne-Maria Haapala, Director of Communications at OAMK.
Last updated: 31.8.2020