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In this featured comment Rector of the University of Copenhagen calls on students and researchers to take an active part in the upcoming university ballots
University elections are around the corner. And for the students at the University of Copenhagen and for some staff, November will perhaps cause ‘writer’s cramp’. Because shortly after the Danish municipal election there is the University Elections – 25-29 November – where representatives for the Study Board, PhD Committees, Department Councils, Academic Councils and the Board of the University are to be elected.
If you ever wanted to spend time on the University Elections and become involved in some of the many elected bodies, now is not a bad time.
The Universities main tasks are in focus, both for ourselves and the world around us, and there is a lot at stake: How do we structure our educational programmes, so they apply to varying needs?
How do we raise the quality of education while the number of students increase? At the same time the University of Copenhagen is facing several important challenges: an accreditation process, we will receive an increasing number of international students and staff, and, last but not least, we must ensure that everyone makes the most of their talents by making it easier to benefit from the huge academic diversity that our six faculties represent.
That is why you should make use of the elections. Not only by voting, but also by debating some of the topics which are relevant in the next couple of weeks: What is a good study environment? How does the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) solve the required challenge of reducing the average time it takes for students to graduate. Or other topics that may be on your mind. Bring up the debate in the canteen, at the student café Friday afternoon (surely some of the candidates may drop by), write an article to the University Post or comment on one of the political student organisations’ Facebook pages.
On the posters we have placed to promote the University Elections, we use the slogan ‘Break the Barrier’. This is not meant as a call for a revolution, but as a subtle reference to the fact that it is possible to make a difference if you want to engage yourself: to move things by becoming a member of a council or a board on behalf of fellow students or colleagues. Or by giving a direction through the (electronic) ballot itself.
Is this just a slogan? No. Even though several bodies are ‘only’ advisory, it would probably be unimaginable that the head of a department or a dean would ‘keep smiling’ if a department or an academic council in the long run were against her/him. In other words, there is a strong incentive to engage in dialogue and why would anyone not listen if the proposals were good?
Next: Does voting matter at all? It is true that it is the marginal vote that determines the election. But many of the local elections can be very close. And besides this, it takes less than five minutes to vote, if you are somewhat familiar with the debate beforehand. And last but not least: A high voter turn-out gives those that are elected more legitimacy.
The work in councils and boards is essential for everyday life on UCPH. Credit transfer of subjects, curricula, strategy of the departments and awarding of academic degrees will not materialise by itself. Therefore, on behalf of the University of Copenhagen, a special thanks to all of you who have made an effort in this election term, and to those who are willing to assume the spots as candidates for the upcoming term.
You help to break the barriers and create an even better University of Copenhagen.
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