2021-25 Communication practice

The 2021-2025 communication practice provides a framework for prioritising, organising and implementing external and internal communication, both in and across academic units and at university level. At Aarhus University, communication is integrated into the university’s overall efforts to:

  • Realise the university’s 2025 strategy and strategies at faculty and unit level.
  • Honour the University Act’s requirement that the university must be a central repository of knowledge and culture which must exchange knowledge and competencies with society.
  • Involve staff and students in important decisions.

Basic principles for communication

To ensure that the local communication practices of the academic units are compatible with communication relating to the university as a whole, the university’s communication practice is based on two basic principles which apply at all levels of the organisation.

  1. Academic units should communicate in a way that best strengthens their academic positions while keeping in mind that their communication initiatives also influence the reputation of the university.
  2. Communication at the central level should unify and promote AU, and should at all times support and advance the activities of the academic units.

These principles apply to both internal and external communication, which are described below. Guidelines for design and naming have been developed with these principles in mind.

External communication practice

External communication includes research communication and promotional initiatives which are intended to strengthen Aarhus University’s reputation and highlight the university’s contribution to society.

Goals of external communication

The main goal of external communication at the university is to disseminate knowledge and research findings in order to contribute to the development and welfare of society, which includes promoting:

  1. Collaboration with external parties.
  2. A knowledge-based democracy.

Read more about the above-mentioned sub-goal in Strategy 2025

In addition, a common goal of external communication is to maintain and improve AU’s strong academic reputation. External communication must contribute to:

  • Highlighting the value that AU creates through knowledge, new insight and collaboration.
  • Promoting Aarhus University as an international, campus-based university.
  • Raising awareness of research units in order to attract external funding.
  • Helping researchers and teachers communicate their knowledge to a wider audience.
  • Promoting the university’s research-based degree programmes, diploma degree programmes, campuses and academic environments in order to attract and retain skilled students and employees from Denmark and abroad.
  • Presenting the university as an attractive collaboration partner for business and industry, public institutions, private funds and civil society.
  • Furthering the university’s efforts to promote talents.
  • Furthering the university’s efforts to promote diversity and to be an attractive place of work.
  • Putting the university’s interests on the agendas of ministries, special interest organisations, think tanks and other political agents with regard to framework conditions and important political priorities.

Recommendations on the practice of external communication

  • Concrete communication initiatives must be grounded in the university’s Strategy 2025 and the goals for the academic units’ core activities.
  • Starting at an early stage and continuing throughout, communication expertise must be integrated into the projects, initiatives and events which the university wishes to deploy proactively in relation to its external relations.
  • Communication must encourage dialogue and collaboration with the university’s external stakeholders.
  • When prioritising communication initiatives, emphasis should be placed on stakeholders with the greatest academic and strategic importance to the university.
  • In content, form and choice of platform(s), communication must be planned and executed appropriately in relation to the goals and intended audiences of individual projects.
  • When relevant, communication initiatives must be evaluated and their effect must be measured.

Internal communication practice

Internal communication supports the day-to-day operations for both managers and employees at all levels of the organisation.

The target audience for internal communication is all employees at AU. In certain cases, for example in matters related to studies administration and university policy, students are included as an internal target audience.

Goals of internal communication

Managers, employees, and students have a joint responsibility to contribute actively and constructively to internal communication, the overall goal of which is to promote involvement, motivation and well-being at the university as a shared place of work and study.

Internal communication is based on central and local needs and must:

  • Support open and reliable management communication by giving employees insight into the organisation’s future direction and priorities.
  • Promote communication in the chain of command with a view to setting objectives and direction for day-to-day operations in addition to anchoring measures and decisions at the local level in close collaboration with employees.
  • Ensure that employees have access to current, relevant and easily accessible information about matters they need to be aware of in order to carry out their work satisfactorily.
  • Promote constructive dialogue.
  • Optimise cross-organisational knowledge sharing.
  • Strengthen relevant involvement in essential decisions via the organisation’s councils, boards and committees, through consultation and through day-to-day dialogue between employees and their immediate supervisors.

Recommendations on the practice of internal communication

  • Choice of approach, form and channel of communication must be based on the everyday lives and preferences of employees and students.
  • Communication must take place in the closest possible proximity to those involved. As a general rule, locally before centrally, internally before externally.
  • Communication must form an early and a continual part of projects and processes, with an emphasis on presenting arguments in the different phases of these processes.
  • Communication in connection with projects and processes must involve relevant employees and students.
  • When relevant, communication initiatives must be evaluated and their effect must be measured.