News from the senior management no. 5/2016

Financial situation for 2017 and beyond discussed locally

The Danish Finance Act 2016 and plans for the following years will result in a significant cut in appropriations for Danish universities. In addition, the universities are being impacted by other measures such as degree programme resizing and the study progress reform.

The cost reductions achieved by Aarhus University in 2013 and 2014 and the efforts of its staff mean that it will not be necessary to introduce new and widespread cuts in 2016. The university can thus spend the coming months drawing up a coherent plan for 2017 and beyond.

The cost cuts entailed by the Danish Finance Act will affect the university’s units in different ways. The faculties and the central administration are therefore initiating local processes aimed at identifying possible ways of either cutting costs or increasing revenues.

At Arts, they have spent the past year working hard to prepare the faculty for the financial challenges ahead. In addition to the Academic Council, departmental forums and the liaison committees, the process has involved the setting-up of six working groups which, under various headings, have submitted reports with suggestions for rationalisations etc. Read the announcement from Dean Johnny Laursen (in Danish).

At Health, the faculty management team has drawn up a catalogue of ideas for adjusting costs and increasing revenue. In the near future, the catalogue will be considered by the local liaison committees and the Academic Council, and the heads of department have also been encouraged to discuss and possibly add new ideas to the catalogue locally. The dean has also appointed a task force which will look specifically at the possibilities for improving the faculty’s education budget.

Aarhus BSS has prepared budgets that incorporate the expected cuts in revenue for the period up until 2019, and the departmental managements and liaison committees will continue to work with local initiatives. The Faculty Liaison Committee and the Academic Council are also part of the discussions. Moreover, the faculty’s administrative centre is holding thematic workshops with staff and students to discuss the possibilities for further efficiency improvements.

At Science and Technology, the Academic Council and the Faculty Liaison Committee (FSU) are discussing options for strengthening the faculty’s financial situation. Departmental forums and local liaison committees are also being involved at departmental level. Moreover, all staff are invited to submit proposals directly via the faculty’s website. Read the statement from Dean Niels Chr. Nielsen.

As long ago as early 2015, the senior management team decided that the university’s administration costs had to be reduced by DKK 100 million in the 2015–2019 period. The administration is thus already in the process of implementing these cuts, a process which also involves the local liaison committees. This work will continue concurrently with the work involved in assessing the need for further savings after 2017. The administration’s budgets will still need to be tightly controlled as it is not yet certain that the cutting of costs by DKK 100 million will be enough in light of the reduction in appropriations under the Finance Act in the coming years. Read the statement by University Director Arnold Boon.

This spring, the faculties’ and the administration’s local plans will be combined into a joint plan for consideration by the University Board in June.


Openness about collaboration on public sector consultancy

Aarhus University has been drawn into a debate about the process behind a current report from the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark about the new agricultural package. In connection with the technical aspects of the report, the university was asked to assess the environmental impact of the agricultural sector in the form of, among other things, nitrogen leaching. The task was to involve the agricultural organisation SEGES, which belongs under the Danish Agriculture and Food Council.

According to critics, the lack of transparency about the university’s cooperation with SEGES casts doubts on Aarhus University’s independence, and AU has therefore decided to publish a memorandum containing the entire dialogue on technical matters between SEGES and the researchers at Aarhus University’s two national centres, the Danish Centre for Environment and Energy and the Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture.

The technical report which Aarhus University has submitted to the ministry is publicly accessible. The same is true of the Ministry of Environment and Food of Denmark’s report, which is subject to consultation until 17 February.  


AU boards of studies join forces in quality work

Studies quality assurance and institutional accreditation are the first broad themes on the agenda when students, teaching staff and directors of studies from Aarhus University’s boards of studies meet for the Board of Studies Conference 2016.

The conference is taking place on 14 March, and invitations have just been issued to all members of the boards of studies at all the faculties.

Pro-rector Berit Eika and the Education Committee will kick off the conference with a presentation on the key role played by the boards of studies for the university’s quality assurance work and quality system, including their role in connection with the upcoming institutional accreditation.

The rest of the conference comprises four workshops which will focus on, for example, dispensation rules and practices, giving the boards of studies a chance to exchange experience. The conference will conclude with a plenary review of a number of specific cases.

If you are interested in attending the conference, please register by 1 March.


AU supports national Open Access strategy

Many more research articles from Aarhus University must be made available to a broader audience. A revised Open Access policy will help to ensure this happens.

The new element in the Open Access policy is that researchers – in cooperation with the library – must make their research publications available as Open Access in PURE, ideally supplemented with archiving in another online academic archive. The new policy also emphasises that quality and the researchers’ free choice of publication channel still have the highest priority.

Aarhus University’s Open Access policy supports the ambitious national strategy of ensuring full access to all Danish scientific articles by 2022 – with a target of 80 per cent to be achieved by 2017.


Earlier involvement of Academic Councils in decision-making processes

Strengthening student and staff involvement at Aarhus University does not necessarily mean setting up new bodies. Instead, the dialogue with the existing bodies should be strengthened – including the academic councils in particular.

This was the message in several of the consultation responses received by the senior management team in connection with its consultation on staff and student involvement at university level.

The purpose of the consultation was to clarify whether the four forums for research, talent development, knowledge exchange and education could be replaced by two consulting forums or by a single interdisciplinary body. The four forums have not been active since the two interdisciplinary strategic committees (the Education Committee and the Committee for Research and External Cooperation) were set up.

However, several consultation responses questioned the need for new forums if the involvement of the existing bodies could be improved instead, for example by involving the academic councils more as ‘ideas’ generators’ earlier on in the decision-making. Suggestions of this kind also cropped up in the internal problem analysis.

The senior management team would like students and staff to be involved as early as possible and to be given the opportunity to present their views before decisions are finally made. Therefore, at last week’s meeting, the senior management team affirmed a new planning model which will ensure that the chairs of the academic councils are involved more systematically in the preparation of important strategic and economic matters.

Since the internal problem analysis, work has been carried out at several levels to improve staff and student involvement, and as a result the dialogue between both the deans and the students and between the students and the Rector’s Office has been strengthened and formalised.

At the 24-hour seminar to be held at the beginning of March, the academic councils and the senior management team will discuss themes such as academic freedom, institutional accreditation, economy and staff and student involvement. 


Dean: Make the patient an active resource

In a post on the Altinget research portal on 9 February, Dean of Health Allan Flyvbjerg said that better treatment results can be achieved if health professionals see the patient as an active player and resource rather than just an object – ‘a diagnosis dressed in white’.


Calendar

  • 22 February: Esben Lunde Larsen visits AU Herning
  • 24 February: Board meeting
  • 3–4 March: Seminar for the Academic Council at Sandbjerg Estate also attended by the senior management team 
  • 14 March: Board of Studies Conference 2016
  • 26 April: Board meeting
  • 28–29 April: Minister for Higher Education and Science’s annual education summit: general education in higher education
  • 29 April: Festival of Research 

The Senior Management Team publishes a newsletter every week. This newsletter includes a brief description of current activities and discussions. You can sign up for the Danish version of the newsletter at info.au.dk/medarbbreve, after which you will receive an e-mail whenever the newsletter is issued. If you would like to subscribe to the English version of News from the Senior Management Team, please go to info.au.dk/medarbbreve/index.asp. The English version of News from the Senior Management Team is available at www.au.dk/en/about/uni/seniormanagement/newsletter/. You can read previous editions of News from the Senior Management Team at www.au.dk/en/about/uni/seniormanagement/newsletter/2015.