New think tank will work to develop the academic environment across AU

One of the first tasks for AU's new Academic Environment Council will be to analyse the AU-specific results of the Danish Student Survey. The survey has just gone live and students have until 28 November to take it.

AU's new Academic Environment Council will be a joint think tank that will look at the academic environment in a broad perspective. Photo: Anders Trærup

The boards of study are responsible for developing the physical and psychological academic environment at the individual degree programmes.

But who can advise on more general and fundamental issues which affect the entire university?

This question will get a new answer at the turn of the year, when the new Academic Environment Council will convene for the first time. In future, the council will contribute to the overall development of the academic environment across the university.

A great launching pad

One of the first tasks of the new council will be to analyse AU student responses to the national Danish Student Survey, which has just been sent out to all students at higher-education institutions in Denmark.

This survey is conducted every two years, and the objective is to shed light on students' well-being and how they evaluate the academic environment at their degree programme. And the task of looking at the responses from a holistic AU perspective is a perfect launching pad for the new council, according to Berit Eika:

“This is absolutely spot on in relation to what we want the Academic Environment Council to be. Clearly, the boards of studies will still have to consider the responses from the individual degree programmes, but there will also be more global issues and tendencies which emerge, and in relation to which we may need to take more collective action. In this regard, I think we’ll benefit greatly from having a joint think tank that can look at the big picture.”

On the initiative of students

The Academic Environment Council was established at the urging of the Student Council, which identified a need for a broader and more coherent effort that could build on the work of the boards of studies:

"It's important to have a cross-organisational council so that we can take a strategic, long-term approach to our work with the academic environment. To do this, we need to exchange experiences across the organisation and explore why some succeed while others don’t. We need to learn from each other and with each other in order to be able to work with the academic environment both deeply and broadly,” said Jeanette Kusk, the chair of the Student Council.

Broad portfolio – broad representation

Other possible tasks for the Academic Environment Council include developing orientation week concept, proposing cross-organisational initiatives to increase inclusion and coming up with proposals for improvements to the physical and digital infrastructure of the degree programmes.

The council will have twenty members – ten students and ten staff members – each of whom will be appointed for a two-year term. The student representatives will be elected by the local education forums, while the Committee on Education will appoint one employee representative from each faculty. AU Estates Projects and Development, AU Student Administration and Services and the Centre for Educational Development will also be represented; the pro-rector will chair the council.

The Academic Environment Council will convene once or twice per semester and will report on its activities to the Committee on Education.