It is a great honour and privilege for me and all staff at the college to welcome you to the student town Volda and Volda University College.
We are happy that just you, each and every one of you here today, have chosen Volda this year. Together with you all, we will do our outmost to ensure that you will enjoy your time with us and learn as much as possible in the time to come.
To quote my own mother: Education may not fill your pockets with cash right away, but it gives you knowledge and skills – which you can make use of the rest of your life.
In uncertain times, Volda remains a temperate, safe place, which is easy to navigate.
In this part of the world, we have been spared both heat waves and draughts. We measure electricity prices in cents and not in Euro. Ukraine is far away, but still, we welcome students fleeing from the war this year. That’s the least we could do. To students from Ukraine, I would like to say “Slava Ukraini”. We are with you.
To build knowledge also involves taking in new perspectives, and therefore I urge you new students already now to consider a stay abroad during your studies.
Volda University College has more than 100 exchange agreements with universities abroad, so you have a lot to choose from.
Volda University College has recently finalised a new strategic plan. It includes our vision: “Competencies for a better society”.
The strategic plan also states that “VUC shall provide a varied and innovative learning environment of high quality”.
How do we achieve this? How do we develop the college and our campus in Volda?
Let’s first address the physical learning environment and the campus.
The last years, great things have happened at our campus. The new media house, Sivert Aarflot-building, that could be #the-best-media-building-in-the-world. Our new neighbour, Volda Campus Sparebank 1 Arena, a venue for national and international elite sports. A new swimming hall with indoor water park will be built 50 meters from our main entrance. And we are continuing to renovate and rebuild our other campus buildings.
But new buildings, rooms and facilities do not in themselves ensure a learning environment of high quality. We need to make use of these resources in new and creative ways to unlock the potential for innovative teaching and learning.
In this lies a shared responsibility. Not least for you students.
It is a role you must actively choose to take. To not only participate actively in the day-to-day class activities, but also in the systematic work for quality assurance.
For the individual student, the formal quality assurance starts with the so-called “kvalitetsutval” (quality board). All study programmes have such quality boards, in which teaching staff and elected students meet.
“The quality boards shall be a forum for feedback and continuous evaluation of the study programme, and at the same time aim to strengthen the critical, scientific approach among students and staff.”
In an hour’s time the new students will meet their lecturers here at the college. The lecturers are possibly even more excited than you for the first class. They are looking forward to getting to know you, and to help you along with the work for quality assurance.
Another aspect of quality assurance is the research-based education we provide at VUC. This means that the lecturers are also researchers, because research strengthen the quality of the education and ensures that it is updated with the most recent discoveries in the academic field.
My hope is that VUC in 2023 will be approved to offer our own research programme and PhD-programme in humanities and education. This would be a boost for our education, research and for our region which has a relatively low rate of doctorates.
Until now I have talked a lot about learning, but as students, you should also be living and experiencing. The small student town of Volda has since 1861 been a good place for students to live, with lots to do. Whether you are drawn to cultural encounters, or look for opportunities for hiking, skiing or adventures at sea.
Our region boasts world class travel destinations. From Volda you have easy access to rugged mountain peaks, wild winds, and water in large quantities. However, our mountains claim lives every year. So take care of yourself and others. Seek the necessary knowledge to be safe in nature!
Our English motto is “Volda is the place you’ll never forget”.
We want you to have great memories from your time in Volda – whether you are studying here for a year, or completing a full bachelor-, master- or PhD- degree with us.
This is the eighth and final time I have the great privilege to welcome new students as rector of VUC. In a year’s time, this honor will befall a new rector.
The election for the new rector will take place this autumn, and I hope that both students and staff will take active part in the election. Everyone has the right to vote, and every vote will be heard. I wish for a good election. Best of luck with the 2022/23 academic year!