This week, the Ministry of Higher Education and Science published the first part of an evaluation of the 7-point grading scale, which investigates grading on all higher education degree programmes between 2007 and 2016. The analysis shows that the grades are higher than expected on higher education degree programmes, and that the proportion of top grades exceeds the 10 per cent which was expected under the new system.
This evaluation has given rise to discussions about whether the grading system is working as it should.
The management at Aarhus University have read the evaluation with interest. However, Pro-rector Berit Eika warns against jumping to conclusions, and points out that many young people today want to do well and so work hard, focusing on their studies in order to get a good grade.
“Students should be assessed fairly. If they meet the criteria required to get a top grade, they should be awarded that grade,” says the pro-rector, who trusts that the academic environments’ assessments of students at Aarhus University accurately reflect their performance.
She also points out that the new grading system was introduced so as to make students’ grades comparable in an international context, which involved a built-in objective to ensure that more students are awarded the highest grade possible.
According to the study, Aarhus University does not award top grades liberally, and if all universities are considered, Aarhus University lies located at the lower end of the scale when the figures are adjusted for parental and upper secondary school backgrounds.
Aarhus University is looking forward to receiving the second part of the evaluation, which may help to clarify the underlying causes of elevated grade levels and hence provide a better foundation on which conclusions can be drawn.
People flocked to the debate events at the Aarhus University research vessel, which formed the backdrop for AU’s programme at Denmark’s Political Festival on Bornholm.
AU Board Chair Connie Hedegaard, who also participated in the debate aboard the ship, points out that the university’s presence helped to bring together researchers and politicians to discuss important societal issues.
“It is natural for Aarhus University to be present and contribute our knowledge of democracy, social development and other specialist subjects. And the fact that we can provide a framework whereby politicians and researchers can meet and create some hopefully inspiring debates is a positive thing.”
Topics such as careers in education, open science, medical cannabis, research in policy development, the role of universities for cohesion in Denmark and the future of drinking water were all debated. AU researchers and managers debated with Minister for Higher Education and Science Tommy Ahlers, MPs Christine Antorini, Joachim B. Olsen and Peter Skaarup, and representatives from organisations and businesses such as LEGO, Grundfos, the Confederation of Danish Industry and DEA.
A workshop on partnership between universities and industry last week was attended by academic and administrative staff members from all four faculties.
This workshop is part of AU’s objective of increasing the number of partnerships with industry. Rector Brian Bech Nielsen opened the workshop and stressed the university’s ambitions for business collaboration.
“AU’s objective is to become a preferred partner for business and industry. This is something we are aiming for because an increasing number of our graduates will have to find work in the private sector, and we share a responsibility to prepare them for their future jobs. We also want to increase the volume of research-based innovation, and the most effective way of doing this is to work in close partnership with companies.”
Specifically, participants were inspired by corporate relations and technology transfer specialist Lars Frølund, who has identified five specific factors for success in strategic partnerships between universities and business and industry. The participants also had the opportunity to work with tools for mapping opportunities for partnership with businesses.
The European Commission has just presented the new Horizon Europe programme, which will replace Horizon 2020. Horizon Europe maintains the high European ambitions and is much stronger financially, with a budget of EUR 115 billion.
European university network the Guild, which Aarhus University is part of, welcomes the new programme. However, the Guild points out that 25 per cent of the overall budget should be paid to the European Research Council (ERC), and at least 12% to The Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. The heads of universities in the Guild, including Rector Brian Bech Nielsen, believe that this is necessary in order to maintain a European leadership position in research; particularly in relation to the ERC, which is currently the research initiative having the greatest impact on a global level.
In its reaction to the Horizon Europe announcement, the Guild also stresses that active steps must be taken towards more in-depth academic integration within the ‘Global Challenges’ pillars across academic disciplines, including the decisively important involvement of social sciences and humanities disciplines.
Negotiations on the implementation of Horizon Europe will begin during the summer.
From 10:00 on Monday, 25 June, current and retired Aarhus University staff can register for one free Danish University Extension course.
This week, the international research unit AIAS celebrates its fifth anniversary with a small afternoon and evening event for AU colleagues, fellows and other interested parties.
In its short life, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS) has picked up two record-breaking EU grants and thus received more than DKK 84 million from the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation.
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