Class of 2020 Inauguration, Malmö

Inauguration of the World Maritime University’s Class of 2020 MSc in Maritime Affairs, took place in the WMU Sasakawa Auditorium on 16 September. For this new academic year, 114 students from 53 countries are enrolled in the 14-month programme.

In welcoming the Class of 2020, President Doumbia-Henry acknowledged that many of the students have made sacrifices to study at WMU, leaving their families, jobs and support networks behind. She encouraged the Class to take advantage of the unique experience of studying at WMU where students learn together, live together in the student residence, and spend their free time together, sharing knowledge, experience, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and religions. 

“A rich store of knowledge is awaiting your discovery. You will become ambassadors of Malmö, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and the United Nations and make an impact in your home countries and beyond when you return and become a leader on implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. You will make unbreakable bonds and have shared experiences that can only be gained at WMU, and you will become the maritime and ocean leaders of tomorrow,” said President Doumbia-Henry.

The President emphasized this year’s World Maritime Day theme of Empowering Women in the Maritime Community, and encouraged the class to embrace UN SDG 5, focused on gender equality. The maritime industry is still one of the most under-represented sectors of economic activity for women, and over the last 27 years, the percentage of women seafarers has remained at one to two percent. 

The President highlighted the recent release of the WMU Empowering Women in the Maritime Community Conference Report, based on the conference held at WMU earlier this year. The event brought various maritime and ocean stakeholders together to discuss the common challenge of gender equality. Over 350 participants from more than 70 countries adopted conclusions identifying 17 actions that could be taken to advance gender balance in the maritime and oceans sectors. 

In his welcoming remarks, Vice President Academic, Jens-Uwe Schröder-Hinrichs emphasized the global impact of shipping with some facts and figures including: An average container ship travels the equivalent of three-quarters of the way to the moon and back in one year during its regular travel across the oceans. The largest container ships are almost 400 metres long and can carry almost 25,000 containers on board. If they would carry bananas in their containers, they could store 1.2 billion bananas on one ship during one trip. That’s about one banana for every person in India or China with nearly 20% of the world population represented by each of these two countries. Economically speaking, the shipping industry is enormous. In the United Kingdom, it accounts for more of the GDP than restaurants, takeaway food, and civil engineering combined. And for the environmental impact, sending a container from Shanghai to Le Havre (France) emits fewer greenhouse gases than the truck that takes the container on to Lyon, which is a bit more than 600 kilometres.

The Class of 2020 includes 52 students from Asia, 47 from Africa, 9 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 3 from Europe and 3 from Oceania with strong delegations from Nigeria, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and South Africa. The Class of 2020 is benefiting from fellowship donors, including the Norwegian Seafarers’ Union and European Maritime Safety Agency. The Nippon Foundation remains the largest fellowship donor with 28 Sasakawa Fellowships this year. Continued and increased levels of fellowship support are provided by the International Maritime Organization, the Governments of Australia, Germany, the Republic of Korea, Norway, Singapore, South Africa and the United Kingdom, as well as organizations, foundations and industry actors such as the ITF Seafarers’ Trust, TK Foundation, Orients Fond, the International Chamber of Shipping, Gard AS, Stena Rederi AB and the World Nuclear Transport Institute. In addition, many students are funded by their employers who recognize the significant added value of educating their staff members at WMU.

The Class began their studies on 17 September with an intensive Marine Environmental Science course.

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