Yesterday I approved scholarships worth SEK 2.5 million that will enable 74 of our international students to continue their studies here at Uppsala University, despite the severe financial impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on them and on the families that support them. The international environment is important for our University and for the quality of our education. Meetings between people with perspectives from different parts of the world give rise to reflection and discussion – the very lifeblood of academic dialogue. We exist in the world and the world is with us in Uppsala.
The current situation makes it more important than ever to continue to subsidise tuition fees for international students who have difficulty paying their own way. I hope many people recognise the value of this and we welcome contributions from more donors.
The coronavirus pandemic has forced the closing of borders and put obstacles in the way of exchanges. Now, more than ever, it is important to seek and maintain international contacts and relations. This requires us to take initiatives to keep up contacts and find new ways to meet. Otherwise, there is a risk that the world will turn in on itself, and that distrust and conflicts will grow. Many worrying signs were visible even before the pandemic and we are now witnessing a worsening situation with increasing violence and expressions of racism. When people are pitted against each other rather than seeking dialogue and knowledge about one another’s points of view, we are heading in the wrong direction.
As a university, we uphold fundamental values concerning the equal worth of all people, open dialogue and the right of everyone to express their views and have an influence. We reject racism and all other forms of discrimination. Our Mission, Goals and Strategies puts it clearly: we will contribute “to an open, knowledge-based public debate with freedom of expression and human rights at its heart”. Equal opportunities and open, objective, critical debate lay the foundation for new ideas and scientific and scholarly theories, leading to a better understanding of the world. On this foundation, we will help bring about a better future.