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Comment: Moving in the same direction

In this featured comment, Rector Ralf Hemmingsen and Prorector Thomas Bjørnholm discuss the process and the challenges in the University of Copenhagen 2016 strategy plan

Hungarian post can be dangerous! This horse discipline where the rider stands on two or more horses is definitely not easy to master. Ideally, the horses should have the same size, the same pattern of movement and not least get along. And one can easily imagine the discomfort of the horseman, should the horses suddenly begin to run in opposite directions.

That very same feeling may occur, when large organizations launch series of strategies, plans and objectives that do not point in the same direction. Therefore, it is our ambition to maintain a close connection between 2016 – Strategy for the University of Copenhagen, the Development Contract with the Ministry, the objective plan based on 2016 and documents such as the Strategy for collaboration with private enterprise and local faculty strategies.

At UCPH, we have demonstrated due diligence when preparing 2016. In 2011, we went through an extensive and thorough process, ensuring that we were ready with an elaborated strategy when it was time to hand in our early contributions to the Development Contract for 2012-2014. And with the strategy in hand, we have been well prepared for the ongoing negotiations with the Ministry.

The same goes for our input to Denmark’s Innovation Strategy, to which the Minister of Education has encouraged everybody to contribute. With 2016 in place, UCPH Research and Innovation has prepared a focused substrategy for business collaboration and innovation, and as such, we are ready to contribute to the national innovation strategy with well-considered input on everything from entrepreneurship in education to collaboration with GTS institutes.

But of course, the work is not done with a printed brochure. Words must be put into action. Evaluations from the last strategy period have shown a need to down-scale the very detailed plans of action. Therefore, based on 2016, we are preparing a slimmer plan with objectives that students and employees in different ways can work towards.

Ultimately, what must carry the vision and make the strategy live are all the research-, teaching- and communication activities which students and employees are engaged in every day at departments and centres. The broad including process that secured the creation of the strategy must also characterize the execution. All of us – students and employees – share a joint responsibility to work towards the objectives of the three focus areas: improved education, strengthened external collaboration as well as strengthened internal collaboration and shared identity.

When it comes to education, we have made a good start with for example the distribution of the best projects from Education at its best, the study of how students spend hours between classes and the decision to secure a minimum of 12 classroom hours in all bachelor programmes by 2014. And in our dialogue with the Ministry, we work fiercely to maintain the rise in the taximeter funding for the humanities and social sciences. We also plan a series of meetings with study board representatives to discuss how we can collaborate on achieving the objectives of the strategy. Together, we must continue the good work within all three focus areas.

The faculty secretariats have received the printed 2016, which is also online. Soon, you will find both the objective plan and the Development Contract online as well. We hope that many students and employees will read the different documents and hopefully experience that the connection is so clear that the reader does not feel like an inexperienced horseman riding Hungarian post.

We must not risk involuntarily doing the splits or falling off completely. In our daily work towards the overall objectives, we should not feel like we are riding several horses, but rather experience that we are steadily progressing – in different ways – but in the same direction.

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