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University Says Teaching Is “Better and Better” After Student Union Survey Shows Falling Education Quality

Student perception of Umeå University’s educational quality is worsening during the pandemic, but administrators say they are doing what they can to improve it.

UNIVERSITET – Umeå University responded this afternoon to a Student Union survey, published this morning, which showed that students — primarily undergraduates — felt that educational quality has declined during the coronavirus pandemic. “The transition to distance education may have initially affected the quality of teaching,” wrote Deputy Vice-Chancellor Heidi Hansson, “but we also know that we have incredibly talented and ambitious teachers, and that the university is at the digital forefront, so we have full confidence that teaching is becoming better and better.”

In the survey, a majority of students said that the quality of lectures had worsened, and a near-majority — about 45 percent — said the same about the quality of examinations. However, students did not necessarily blame any declining caliber of education on the teaching staff. Some 65 percent of students said they were having trouble maintaining their daily routines during the pandemic, and almost 70 percent said they were more likely to procrastinate and put off studying.

Survey results from Umeå Student Union. –Umeå Studentkår

“The proportion of instructor-led time may be slightly, or much, lower,” the Union wrote, “which may be linked to the perceived deterioration in teaching quality. It may also be that teaching digitally is, by its nature, shorter and more resource-efficient.”

The perception of reduced quality is greater among undergraduates than graduate students. “Masters and doctoral students are significantly more satisfied with examinations than undergraduate students,” the report said.

University Deputy Vice-Chancellor Heidi Hansson. -Mattias Pettersson

More female students responded to the survey; 72 percent identified themselves as women, and 27 percent as men. 59 percent were undergraduates.

Union Vice President Anton Öhrlund called on the university administration “to put care into doing what is necessary, together with the teaching staff,” to improve quality.

“The situation puts an enormous strain on society as a whole,” responded Hansson. “Not being able to live normally affects everyone in one way or another. So, it is not really strange if our students feel more stressed and worried.”

“The university is constantly monitoring the study situation, to see what measures we can take to make sure that our students feel well, and that their studies go optimally,” she concluded.

The number of hospitalized coronavirus patients declines again, even as the total infection count in Västerbotten reaches 400.

Consistent with claims by officials that the pandemic has passed its peak in Umeå, the number of coronavirus patients in the hospital declined again for the fourth day in a row, by two, for a total of 12. The peak refers to the time when the pandemic places its heaviest burden on the local health care system. Earlier this week, Västerbotten health administrators said that the coronavirus situation is now stable in the city. As the region introduced mass testing this week, the number of confirmed infections in Västerbotten increased in the past day by nine, to 400. The day that the same statistic was 200 cases was April 16, which means that it took exactly one month for the number of known coronavirus cases in the region to double.

Västerbotten officials clarify that hearing-impaired persons can call health hotline 1177, after a national organization singled out the region’s lack of accessibility.

The National Society for the Hearing Impaired put out a press release this morning mentioning Västerbotten as one of 11 counties in Sweden which does not have a text-chat option for hearing impaired people who have health emergencies. These regions “have access to chat in their phone systems, but the feature is not used,” said the society’s associate chair, Mattias Lundekvam. “In practice, this means that anyone who has trouble hearing on the phone is denied access to 1177.”

National Society for the Hearing Impaired associate chair Mattias Lundekvam. -Peter Kuntson/HRF

“This is extremely serious,” he added, “especially in these times when everyone who gets COVID-19 symptoms is referred to 1177.”

In response, Västerbotten County said that hearing-impaired persons can call 1177 through a text telephone, or use a videophone and a sign language interpreter who then calls 1177. Västerbotten also said that it was planning to introduce direct 1177 chat technology in the autumn.

Regional officials added that they are piloting a new, online platform which allows patients to write down their symptoms, and then get an automatic response with medical advice, or receive a call from 1177 or other health-care personnel.

A man is expected to face court on June 16, for allegedly pulling a knife on two young people on an Umeå bus in January.

SVT reported today that a man in Umeå has been charged with felony threats and knife possession. The suspect, who was drunk, allegedly pointed a knife at two 14-year-olds on a local bus in Umeå in January. The man reportedly dug the knife into a seat, and then approached the young people. At first, police took the man in under a special handling law for intoxicated persons, but later he was arrested. He denied everything upon interrogation. The hearing is set for June 16.

The City of Umeå says that some people have been illegally dumping garden waste in residential areas.

Residents in Ersmark, Sävar, Haga, and Grubbe have been complaining to Umeå officials that people are dumping garden waste in forests and groves nearby, instead of recycling centers, which is where, by law, the waste should be discarded so it can become biofuel. The consequences of such random dumping, officials say, are unwanted algae blooms and the introduction of new pests. “Many forest groves and pleasant walking paths grow nettles, if waste is dumped there,” landscape engineer Nina Ingvarsson told Västerbottens-Kuriren.

The City says that dealing with illegal dumping can cost it as much as 35 thousand SEK. “Removing these things requires a lot of money — money that taxpayers would rather spend on something else,” said Ingvarsson.

Dumping garden waste improperly can also be prosecuted as an environmental crime.

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