Summer Greetings

Summer greetings from Dean Johnny Laursen.

On 22 March this year, a large majority in the Danish Parliament voted for a supplement to the agreement on 'More and better educational opportunities throughout Denmark'. Part of the agreement was a sectoral plan for higher education programmes, which, among other things, obliged universities to close student places or relocate them out of the four big cities. The consequence for the Faculty of Arts is that we will close 315 study places in the period 2023-2030 and relocate the 33 places in experience economy to Herning. Additionally, we will close cognitive semiotics and diaconia. It goes without saying that the repercussions of this agreement have kept the faculty management team busy these past few months. On the 30th of May I sent you an email with a briefing on the provisional status of the implementation of the agreement at the Faculty of Arts. The faculty's management forum gathered on 2nd and 3rd June in Middelfart for the annual management seminar where the sectoral plan and its consequences were the center of the discussions. These discussions will now continue in the schools where local plans for implementation will be drafted. We are in close contact with the liaison committees, the Academic Council, etc. and will keep you informed at school level too.  

As part of the sector plan for the universities, a task force for the Humanities was established consisting of the deans from AU, AAU, CPH, SDU, RUC and SDU under the chairmanship of SDU’s rector Jens Ringsmose. The agreement text does not say much about the assignment of the task force other than the goal to come up with proposals for a sustainable framework for research and education in the Humanities. The assignment also mentions that the small degree programmes may be under pressure in the coming years because of small youth cohorts. The first meeting was held on 1st of May and focused on opportunities for the Humanities in the future. The task force will continue its work in the years to come, and it is expected that the task force will come with its first recommendations to the Rector's College in mid-2023. The Minister will keep the political parties behind the sector plan informed about the development. I strongly support the set-up of the task force as it offers an opportunity for a unified, systematic discussion of the opportunities for Humanities.

Simultaneously, a wide range of other themes are being discussed. I expect that the senior management team in June will establish a plan for Campus Katrinebjerg, where, as you know, the idea is to establish a so-called Rambla through the area. I hope that we will be able to ensure long-term planning and provide certainty for the future campus development. The discussions have involved Arts, TECH and NAT, all of which have significant IT activities in Katrinebjerg. We hope that the development of the campus will contribute to strengthening collaboration between the faculties and increase the visibility of the large and important environment for IT research and education, which has its primary presence in Katrinebjerg.

Now the first normal semester after the upheavals during COVID-19 will soon come to an end. This also applies to the negotiations for a new time allocation agreement, where we, together with the union representatives, have been negotiating a new, extended agreement regarding time allocation for education activities. In my view, this represents an agreement with certain improvements. To further strengthen this, I and the rest of the faculty management have emphasized that we need to work on adjusting the number of educational activities to fit the number of students - now and in the future. While the number of students has decreased, the level of activities in terms of courses and classes etc. has not followed with the same pace. Unless we take action now, this will mean an increase in the teaching load for the individual researcher resulting in less time for research. This is a discussion for the study boards, collegial forums, and other liaison committees.  

The spring semester has offered a lot of challenges, but equally many successes in the academic environments to treasure. I would therefore like to wish you all a well-deserved summer holiday and I am looking forward to seeing you again in August.

Have a nice summer,
Johnny Laursen