«Welcome to NTNU and a new academic year of study!»

Read Rector Anne Borgs speech from the 2023 matriculation.

Rector Anne Borg on stage during the ceremony
Rector Anne Borg on stage during the matriculation. Foto: Espen Skagen/NTNU

This is an opinion piece. The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

Dear new students, dear guests and friends of NTNU, dear colleagues. Welcome to NTNU and a new academic year of study!  

Today we celebrate the start of a new academic year, your matriculation, our new students. The matriculation is one of the great festive days at the university, and a solemn celebration at NTNU.  

You are now starting student life, together with the other, new, hopeful students around you. You have chosen to spend some of life’s most important years with us at NTNU. It makes me incredibly proud and happy. 

I know that some of you who are here now have had some challenging days because of extreme weather “Hans”. Some of you probably had a hard time getting to the campus where you will study — and some will likely not be able to travel at all. But not to worry — all students who have been offered a study place can be certain it will be waiting for them. 

Around 11,000 have accepted an offer to study at one of our three campuses, Gjøvik, Ålesund and Trondheim. Here in Trondheim, this totals to just over 9,000 new students. 

In other words, you are all part of a large group. However, this group consists of individuals – including each and every one of you! Most people here don’t know many other people, and everyone needs to get to know each other and make new friends.  

Talk to the person sitting next to you in the auditorium or in the cafeteria, and try to meet up with others. If you have arranged activities with someone, stop and think if there are others you could also invite. It takes so little and can mean so much.  

University studies are hard work, and it is quite normal to feel that your study situation is demanding at times. I felt that myself – especially in my first year. It is therefore important to have an inclusive student community around you. Be a good fellow student! 

Trondheim, which is Europe’s volunteer capital in 2023, is known for its excellent study environment and versatile student volunteerism. Trondheim is home to associations and activities that suit all tastes – study associations, Norway’s largest sports club NTNUI and Studentersamfundet are some examples. Get involved in and contribute to these communities! In addition to new acquaintances, these provide experience, memories and friendships that you will have for the rest of your life.  

NTNU is a large, international university with a unique academic breadth, reflected in all the different subject areas you have chosen to study. Take advantage of the opportunities we offer you! 

University studies are about both academic and personal development. We will provide you with studies of high academic quality, as a good starting point for the working life you are going to enter.  

I hope that after completing your studies with us, you will come away with solid expertise and academic curiosity.  

At the same time, I hope that you will have developed strong values. You will face many challenges and dilemmas, both in your studies and in life in general. Ethics and morals will determine the choices you make.  Being respectful is one of the values enshrined in NTNU’s strategy. We promote equality, tolerance and diversity across different perspectives, cultures and gender. It affects how we defend these values, how we talk to each other and how we discuss things.  

Here at the university, there is a lot of room for having different opinions, and at the same time having respect for those who disagree with us. This is crucial at a time of increasing polarisation. We will combat xenophobia and discrimination and safeguard our democratic values. 

We live in turbulent times. The consequences of the brutal war in Ukraine are largely setting the agenda in Norway as well. In addition to enormous human suffering and political uncertainty, this conflict shows how vulnerable the international food situation is. Putin is using food as a weapon – food that should be feeding millions of people around the world.   

A summer of daily heat records reminds us of the climate and nature crisis we are in the midst of. Our Earth – and we! depend on achieving the green and sustainable transition we constantly talk about – NOW! Otherwise, the 1.5o target is out of reach. Knowledge and new solutions – through collaboration across disciplines – are keys to success.  

Everyone must contribute – each and every one of us. We need you to contribute! NTNU’s most important tool for solving major societal challenges – is you, through the education we give you!  

If I say Chat GPT – what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is artificial intelligence (AI) a major threat or countless possibilities? I am absolutely certain it is the latter. Artificial intelligence and digital solutions in general play a key role in sustainable transition, and in solving tasks that are far too large for people to tackle.  

However, we all need knowledge on the subject. We need to understand what artificial intelligence is and what it is not, and what opportunities and challenges this technology provides. Our own Associate Professor Inga Strümke has taken it upon herself to contribute to this – through her book ‘Machines That Think’. I am certainly not the only one here who has read it.  

Familiarise yourselves with the topic – artificial intelligence affects a number of disciplines and changes the way we work. I know that many of our educators are currently planning how issues related to AI can be addressed in their teaching. 

We live in a rapidly changing world. None of us know what working life will look like in 20 years, in 30 years. We will provide you with knowledge and expertise that will equip you to face a changing world. We will prepare you to help solve the challenges we know today, but also those that are still unknown.  

Your student years will shape you as professionals and people. They will be exciting, challenging, sometimes difficult, but also rewarding and full of good experiences.  

Welcome to NTNU. Together we will create knowledge for a better world! 

Norwegian version.