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The University of Copenhagen management wants the world's best researchers. Then why don't they want the world's best support for them? It is not surprising that there is a need for a reform of the administration when it has been operated on unskilled, short-term, staff and student assistants in important functions for years. But a reform would not be necessary at all if they had only taken the talent of the technical and administrative staff seriously.
When and why did things get so bad that there is now a need for an administrative reform at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH)?
Does management prioritize supporting a high level professional administration? Should cheap solutions with unskilled and short-term appointments really be the basis of the support functions of management and academic staff?
No it should not be. We need talent instead. Talented, experienced people who do administrative tasks professionally, on the basis of their education and insight. The same people who are currently being used to train new, unskilled employees and to rectify things when the tasks come back because they have not been handled correctly.
OPINION ON THE UNIVERSITY POST
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If the UCPH management had more focus on hiring administrative, professional employees with the correct training, you would see the benefits right away. Today, they use short-term appointments for various projects and student assistants instead of skilled administrative employees. And now they believe that it is necessary to spend an unfathomable amount of resources on an administration reform.
The benefits of a dedicated prioritisation of talent and the right skills would be self-evident: Professional technical and administrative staff in the administration makes for continuity, and it ensures that tasks are carried out competently. Administration is not just a by-product of science. It is an independent, professional discipline that contributes to the university’s core activities.
In the UCPH strategy paper, we can read that talented scientists are important and should be retained. But the technical/administrative talent is not referenced as being either important to retain or develop to the same extent.
And in a news article about the administrative reform on KUnet sent by the rector, we can also read that at the university there are staff, students and the administration.
Would you believe it? The ‘administration’ is not staff.
»Better, more user-oriented, and less expensive administration is to make life easier for staff and students,« it says.
Would you believe it? The ‘administration’ is not staff. Then it is easier to keep speaking about them like they were an unnecessary layer of fat that you can get rid of. They are, after all, not a part of ‘us at UCPH’.
We think that the Board, in the future, should give its attention to a professional administration with a focus on continuity. And they should hire managers who can take on the tasks, but who also understand the need to maintain a well-educated and competent administrative staff group with a relevant development of their skills.
As it is now, the planned career and skills project for technical/administrative staff has been shelved, and many colleagues do not have skills development opportunities. Local managers cannot go beyond than their daily tasks, and are unable to prioritize the long term goal of improving talent and skills in the organisation..
It is a fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain the good employees at UCPH.
This is partly due to the fact that modern, competent administrative employees are well sought-after in the rest of the labour market. And it’s partly because it is no longer considered a privilege to work at UCPH.
This problem is not solved by employing unskilled, short-term staff. This is solved by having a competent management, and an understanding of how a professional administration can contribute to the bottom line.
Thank you for the opinion piece and for emphasizing that a well-functioning administration is a prerequisite for UCPH being able to deliver world-class education and research.
A high-level professional administrative environment is exactly the purpose of the reform. As the opinion piece exemplifies, we have today many talented and dedicated administrative staff members who we must retain and develop as UCPH evolves.
With the administrative reform, we are working on organizing the administration to fit the large and complex university that we are today — and that we are going to be in the future. One of the five guiding principles of the reform is the support of well-being and development opportunities for staff and managers in the administration.
Thanks to Nadja Månsson & colleagues for their commitment to the future administration of UCPH.