Welcome to our new international students
Today Monday 9 January I have the great pleasure of welcoming the new international students at an event at Blindern Campus. I thank you all for coming to the University of Oslo and for bringing the world with you.
Below you will find my speech to the international students. First a few facts and figures:
- This spring we welcome around 450 international students, most of who are exchange students, some on joint degrees.
- We meet the new international students, as we do with all students, with a buddy system. In the buddy group the students will make friends, get the opportunity to take part in several enjoyable events and get to know their faculty and the campus.
- Among the events organized for the new students are outdoor ice skating, sightseeing in Oslo, café tour at Blindern and a quiz night.
- Thursday January 26th we are organizing this semester's first Language Café. Together with our language tandem concept this is a great opportunity for international students who wish to practice Norwegian and for Norwegian students who would like to practice a foreign Language.
I would like to ask all students and staff at the University of Oslo to give a warm welcome to our new international students and to make good use of the knowledge and skills they bring with them.
Welcome speech to our new international students
As Rector of The University of Oslo there is no task that I value more than to welcome new students to our University. In August each year we have a large ceremony at the University Square in downtown Oslo where we welcome thousands of new students. On that occasion the weather usually is nice and Oslo is at its most beautiful. Today however the weather is a bit harsher, and Oslo is at its coldest and darkest. Later today you will get a presentation on how to dress for Norwegian winters, which I am sure will be helpful, especially for all of you who are not used to these conditions. Having grown up in Norway myself, I find the seasonal changes both fascinating and invigorating, and I do hope you will regard the peculiarities of our climate and country as something to explore and investigate rather than something that annoy and distract.
Norwegians love to talk about the weather, but my role here today is to talk about something much more important. I will talk about the academic community and about the very reason why we value your presence on our campus. In fact let me start by welcoming you all to our academic community, which is intertwined with the European and the global academic community.
In fact there is just one academy - the global one - and we are all part of it, as students, teachers and staff. This defines what we do and who we are. We have a shared responsibility for the international academy, and this means that we must speak up when the academic freedom of any member of our community is threatened. Sadly, last year we had to speak up multiple times, when in several countries students and fellow academics were persecuted and universities and educational institutions closed or even attacked. I am proud that the University of Oslo has been at the forefront in providing sanctuaries for scholars and students at risk and in helping include qualified refugees in our educational and research environments.
When I look at you I am seeing fellow members of our academic community. We do not regard our students as being customers or buyers of our services. This is why the University of Oslo has opposed consistently the introduction of tuition fees, even for students from countries outside of the European Union and European Economical Area. We view our international student body as a vital and central part of our University - a student body that helps us build an international campus with the richness of perspectives that is the very hallmark of a leading higher educational institution. .
We are – in our core, in our strategies and in our identity – an international University. You bring the world to Oslo and are therefore extremely important to our campus, your fellow students and our staff. You are agents for internationalization at home, and therefore you contribute significantly just by being here.
But of course I will urge you to do far more than this. I encourage all of you to leave a mark by engaging in the student community or by joining one or several of our numerous student associations. Take part in a multitude of activities, extracurricular as well as curricular. Listen to the advice of all the competent and enthusiastic students and staff talking here today.
I hope you will look back on your time here in Oslo with as much fondness as I look back on my time as an international student in France. The network of friends and colleagues that I established there - several decades ago - has been with me ever since. I trust you will be sharing my experience in this regard. Thank you so much for coming and for joining and contributing to our academic community. Good luck to you all!