When will Norway's universities return to normal?

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When will Norway's universities return to normal?

Universities in Norway fully opened on Monday, just a few days before the end of the spring semester. But how long will it take for them to get back to normal?


How open are Norwegian universities now? 
As of this Monday, universities in Norway are fully open, but they need to respect the current guidelines on reducing the spread of coronavirus, including the one-metre rule, which will mean that lectures and social events will not be able to be held as usual.
In areas where staff and students rely on public transport, home office and digital meetings will continue to be held.
In a statement on Friday, Norway's universities minister Henrik Asheim said that having full opening in the last week of the semester would help students and staff to prepare for the autumn semester, and also be useful for master's students taking summer course. 
What has happened in the spring semester? 
Universities closed their doors on March 12 when Norway's government announced the decision to impose a lockdown, and most then decided to shift to digital tuition for the rest of the spring semester. 
In April, students and postdoctoral students who needed access to campuses to continue their research were allowed back.
University employees began to return to their offices from the start of May, although the majority only returned to their offices towards the end of the month. The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø only officially ended home-working on June 5th. 
In the week starting May 11, universities began to reopen some of their buildings to some students, with libraries and reading rooms reopening, albeit with quota systems, and Masters and PHD students who have their own offices were allowed to return, so long as they followed strict guidelines. 
This meant the return of about 25 percent of students. 
On June 15th, universities became fully open again, although for most the spring semester ends on June 18th.  


What sort of rules have been in place? 
Since May 11, have limited the number of students who can come to libraries and reading rooms, so as to be able to maintain a minimum one metre distance between desks.
Universities have also been insisting that students take an online course in minimising infection before entering their premises. 


What will happen to international students coming on exchange to to study on exchange this autumn? 
Norway's education authorities have instructed the country's universities to arrange international exchanges as normal for this autumn, but few are actually doing so. 
The University of Oslo is offering exchange students a digital course, arguing that with most visa offices now closed, it is in practice impossible for prospective students to get an entry permit. 
The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø on May 11th cancelled all international student exchanges for the autumn, saying that uncertainty over border controls made it impossible to arrange in practice. 
The University of Bergen is going ahead with international exchanges for students from the EU/EFTA countries and the UK, with the exception of clinical rotation at the medical faculty, which has been cancelled. It has told those exchange students who decide to come to expect "a blend of in-person instruction and online instruction". 
What about international students starting undergraduate and master's degrees? 
Most of those who applied to study degrees in Norway this autumn did so well before the coronavirus lockdown, leaving many in the difficult situation of having been accepted for international study they may not be able to receive. 
The University of Oslo has told many international students that the first autumn semester will be taught online, meaning many will not be able to come to Norway. 
With it still uncertain whether borders will be open by the time the semester starts in August, some students have been told they can try to come in August, but that if they do so, they will have to find their own accommodation.


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