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More VIP-influence in the UCPH board – YES!  But how?

Election on UCPH — Our key objective in the university board is to develop UCPH core products research, research-based educations, research dissemination and service to public institutions to the highest international level.

Universities in the turmoil of a rapidly changing world

Students have occupied the Deans office at the UCPH Faculty of Humanities for weeks. The lectern was taken over by a student at the UCPH Annual Celebration. Not since the youth revolt in 1968 has the University experienced similar expressions of dissatisfaction with the low level of student influence. The youth revolt led to the University Order of 1970, securing democratic elections to all levels of decision at UCPH.  These rights were curtailed with the University Order of 2003. The ongoing student actions should remind politicians that the current order is now 16 years old, and society, values and norms have developed enormously in that period of time. It is time the University order gets a major overhaul with particular focus on employee inclusion and influence, an issue already appreciated by the Rectorate in the Strategy 2023!

Unfortunately this does not seem to be high on the agenda of recently appointed Minister of Higher Education and Science Ane Halsboe-Jørgensen. In her speeches so far she focuses on the green-research billion (please do not take the 260 million from the free national research funds for this!), the abolition of the re-prioritization contribution and the education ceiling, renewal of the enrolment system and the grades scale, as well as stress among students. These are generally positive trends, but if the Minister is serious about ‘the societal responsibility of the Universities … to secure novel, independent and credible knowledge … that can be communicated freely and unfiltered … and that our democracy depends on the critical and curious view on society’, it follows that democracy has to be developed on the Universities, and that the outdated University Order deserves revision.

More influence on decisions affecting the university core functions – how?

Waiting impatiently for political attention on these critical issues, we have to face realities and work to seek the best possible ways to influence university decisions on issues that affect the core product of the universities: research, research-based educations, research dissemination and service to public institutions. The VIPs deliver these core products, but to do so it is vital that the operations of the universities are constantly trimmed to provide optimal opportunities for the VIP staff to deliver their professionalism – after all, that was what we were hired for!

So there is little disagreement among VIP staff that they join the students in their wish for more influence on decisions that seriously influence their abilities to do what they are supposed to do. The question is how this influence is accomplished.

The list More VIP-influence! strongly believes that democratic improvements require democratic means. Screaming in a megaphone from one corner of the board meeting room will bring little more than antagonism. The toolbox we will bring in to the board work to represent all UCPH VIP staff contains dialogue, arguments developed by consultation with our support base, an open and listening attitude – and hard work in preparing for the meetings, studying the meeting material, and contributing with careful reading and commenting of the minutes – which is where the decisions become manifest.

Board work in the real world

Many will say: ‘What does it matter? The board consists of 11 members, only 5 of which are internal. We can always be majorized’.

To that we say: ‘Well, it is not a law of nature that the 6 external members are against the internal. In fact, in the current board, 3 members represent industry, 2 members serve the public education system, either at a Danish Gymnasium or a Scandinavian University, and 1 is Director of the Academics trade-union AC. So actually, the majority of the current board represents the public sector and we find it highly likely that alliances on many topics can be generated’. This requires an open and collaborative approach to the board work – but it also requires that mutual confidence is built in the new board, and this one of the first and most critical tasks: to build a functional board.

Our core values

Once the board is functional, we will contribute to the work with our core values: highest academic standards, openness, democracy, internationalization and innovation.

Highest academic standards. Our key objective is to develop UCPH core products research, research-based educations, research dissemination and service to public institutions to the highest international level. We consider these products equal and will work for equal merits for fulfilling these functions.

Openness. Universities are the intellectual cradles of the knowledge generation in society, and for that reason need to have freedom to ‘communicate freely and unfiltered’ with society, as emphasized by our Minister. We will work for an open two-way communication between VIP staff and society, and against restrictions in the right to debate academic issues in public fora, a function we consider an obligation and part of the dissemination duty.

Democracy. We will work to develop democracy at UCPH, for a revision of the University Order, but until this is possible within the existing legal framework – with democratic means.

Internationalization. We will work to truly implement internationalization at UCPH: international open postings, transparent criteria for qualifications and career development communicated on our web site and international platforms, development of our International Office to facilitate settling in of international VIPs in UCPH and exchange, implementation of bi-lingual (DA/ENG) generation of all relevant documents and webtexts, so that international staff and applicant can easily find understandable information, international accreditation of all our core products, etc.

Innovation. We will work to develop public-private partnerships to ensure exchange of staff between the sectors to strengthen employability of UCPH candidates and cross-fertilization of data and competences developed in both sectors. In contrast to our neighboring countries like Sweden where the inventor owns both patent and rights to commercial exploitation, the latter right is owned by the institution of the inventor in Denmark. This is severely impeding on spin-out of inventions at Danish higher educational institutions and we will work to generate pressure from the Board to the political level to revisit Danish patent laws. At UCPH, the TechTransfer Office functions need to be streamlined to better serve VIP needs, and should not be an administrative barrier against innovation.

Our attitudes

In brief our main attitudes are summarized here.

 

We will work for:

  • More influence for all UCPH VIP
  • Inclusion of VIP expertise in decisions
  • Priority to academic core functions
  • Research-based teaching
  • Transparent career-paths
  • Clear criteria for job qualifications
  • Mentored tenure-track
  • Better career options for PhDs /Postdocs
  • Just and open budget –model
  • Equal rights, inclusion and respect
  • Mutual respect among VIP and leadership
  • Professional board effort

 

We will work against

  • Top-down management
  • Promotion of personal interests
  • Administrative task-shifting
  • Precariat of non-tenure teaching staff
  • Nepotism and co-option
  • Narrow exclusive postings
  • Random promotion
  • Time-glass staff structure
  • Re-distribution circus
  • Discrimination in all forms
  • Unnecessary control and registrations
  • Radical opinions and self-promotion
We will work hard to secure VIP influence in the UCPH board through our professionally qualified, reflected and pragmatic approach.
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Our electional programme

Common professional interests across Faculties

We will work hard to secure VIP influence in the UCPH board through our professionally qualified, reflected and pragmatic approach. High academic quality, openness, innovation and internationalization are our core values, which we will work hard to promote.

Constructive VIP employee inclusion

We will work to mitigate the democratic deficit imposed upon us by the University Order, without demanding that all decisions be made by sitting down in circles. True participation in decision processes requires that systemic procedures are established to ensure that employees are heard, but also that the inclusion respects the managerial framework.

VIPs deliver the core products of UCPH

We will work to secure that the VIPs have optimal opportunities to practice our professionalism and to conduct the core tasks of UCPH within research, teaching, service to public authorities and dissemination. We will also work to reduce the so-called ‘academic precariat’ and the adverse consequences of it.

Tenure-track and the time-glass issue

Lack of postdoc- and assistant professorship-positions has created the ‘time-glass’-problem in the positional structure. We will work for more positions and for the implementation of mentored tenure-track.

The many obligations of UPCH to society

We will work to ensure that UCPH is consolidated and developed as a strong culture- and knowledge-delivering institution, producing both basic and society-relevant research, teaching and dissemination. We will promote that UCPH actively prioritizes the education of excellent Bachelors and Masters, who can transmit culture and knowledge to the next generations.

Efficiency under responsibility

We will work to establish that all administrative services consider and support the opportunities of VIPs to execute the UCPH core-tasks. More specifically we will work against task shifting so that supportive administrative tasks to the greatest possible extent are taken care of by TAPs and not by VIPs.

Respect and inclusion

We will promote UCPH as an inclusive environment and an attractive work-place for both staff and students, based on mutual respect, equal rights and an academic room with a high ceiling.

Transparency and responsibility

We will promote that UCPH handles its core functions as a democratic and open institution with the greatest possible transparency and with social and economic responsibility. This implies also that we will promote that implementation and substantiation of budget-models and recruitment-norms and -criteria are transparent and fair. Only thereby can we establish UCPH as a University attractive to the best researchers, teachers and science communicators in the global competition of recruiting talent.

Who are we?

Thomas Mandrup-Poulsen, Professor of Immuno-endocrinology, MD, DMSc
Founder and Chairman of the Associate Professor and Professor Association (APPA) at SUND (www.appa.ku.dk). Executive board experience from the Danish Society for Internal Medicine (DSIM) 1992-95, the Medical Society of Copenhagen 1999-2002 and the Danish Medical Society 1992-2000. Chairman of the DSIM 1995-1997.

As Chairman of APPA I have worked for creating credibility around the professional input APPA delivers to our leadership, e.g in relation to strategies and action plans, career development, recruitment criteria and positional structure. Through membership surveys, APPA has qualified the dialogue with the Deanery about shift of tasks from TAP to VIP and administrative barriers, and APPA has through input to the SUNDs Idea-list and the debate-meeting with Rector and the SUND Dean brought inclusion of VIP in h  earings and decisional processes into focus.

READ ALSO: APPA’s formand fortæller om foreningens første år
AND: Forskerne på SUND vil have mere indflydelse (Articles in Danish)

As candidate on the list More VIP-influence!  I will work constructively for VIP influence in the board of UCPH in order to strengthen the possibilities of executing what we are employed for: our professionalism in research, teaching and dissemination, thereby developing a strong united UCPH for the benefit of society.

Henrik Kragh Sørensen, Professor w.s.r. of history and philosophy of science
My research area is the history and philosophy of mathematics and computer science, which is a fascinating, interdisciplinary field situated between the sciences, history, philosophy, and sociology. Throughout my career, I have considered it an important part of my professional identity to disseminate my joy for and reflections on science to students, teachers, and the general public. As a researcher and teacher, research group leader, head of section, and deputy head of department for research at the Department of Science Education at SCIENCE, I now juggle many different roles. These provide me with crucial insights into the wishes and needs of researchers as well as respect for the necessity of managerial room to operate. I try my best to navigate these concerns, focusing on integrity, inclusiveness and a willingness to listen.

As a candidate for the list More VIP-influence!, I will work to bring the insights, perspectives, and qualified argumentation of VIPs to bear on the work of the Board. I truly believe that together we can make UCPH even stronger and that there is more that unite us VIPs than the perpetual competition which sometimes separates us. Across faculties, we must strive to support the possibility for VIPs to undertake the core tasks of UCPH in research, teaching, dissemination and services to society. In particular, I will work to ensure that the central position of UCPH as an institution of knowledge and culture is used to the fullest extent to continue to educate the best candidates to bring high levels of expertise and the joy of creating and sharing knowledge to the next generations.

Read also: We have to put an end to utilitarian short-sightedness.

 

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