News from the senior management team no. 31/2017

Increased user-friendliness in Blackboard to pave the way for roll-out of EDU IT initiatives

Last Friday, the Education Committee performed a status review of Blackboard, which was implemented this autumn as a single shared learning platform for all teaching staff and students across Aarhus University. As a result, a common platform has been created for the further development of EDU IT initiatives at Aarhus University, which in the long term will pave the way for more learning.

The next step is increased user-friendliness, which will be given a high priority in the project description for the roll-out of EDU IT which will be presented to the board on 12 December. Here, investments in technology, competency development and new teaching formats will be proposed.

New PhD survey kicks off

On Monday 30 October, Aarhus University’s four graduate schools launched a comprehensive survey of all PhD students at the university. The aim of the survey is to provide an in-depth picture of the quality of PhD programmes throughout the university. This is the second time that the survey is being conducted – the first time was in 2013.

Aarhus University wants more women enrolled in its IT degree programmes

With almost 50 participants, a record number of young women came together for Aarhus University’s annual IT Camp for girls. The camp, which is organised by student volunteers and backed by the IT industry, was held for the eleventh consecutive year, and in recent years this fine initiative has spread to other universities.

The camp is one of the measures being implemented to recruit more female students to the university’s IT and computer science degree programmes, as the proportion of women on the programmes at the moment is less than 20 per cent. In an interview with Jyllands-Posten published on 19 October, Pro-rector Berit Eika firmly states that both men and women are needed in the IT industry, and that Aarhus University will make a targeted effort to recruit more women to the field. Among other things, she sees considerable potential in highlighting the applicability perspective, as women are generally more interested in this aspect of IT.

The wish to recruit more women is aligned with the university’s focus on digitisation, which will help to meet the need for highly educated labour within ICT.

Aarhus University has recently intensified its efforts and has established a working group of both professors and administrative resources which will now coordinate and develop the efforts to ensure greater diversity in the university’s IT programmes.

Elections to the occupational health and safety organisation at Aarhus University

At the beginning of 2018, new occupational health and safety representatives will be elected at Aarhus University, and now is the time to consider whether you want to stand for election. The nomination period lasts from December until 8 January. Rector Brian Bech Nielsen encourages all employees to get involved in the elections to the occupational health and safety organisation.

Aarhus University pays tribute to student medallists

On 25 October, Aarhus University paid tribute to 13 medal-winning students at the university. They were celebrated for their sporting performances in the past year, and for their ability to combine sport with an academic education.

The medal winners are all part of Aarhus University’s Dual Career programme for elite athletes, which aims to make it possible to attend university while pursuing a professional sporting career. With 40 athletes, Aarhus University has the highest number of Team Danmark-funded students in Denmark. More than 250 student elite athletes are currently affiliated with the Dual Career programme. 

Next year’s recruitment campaign will build on 2017 success

An evaluation of the 2017 recruitment campaign shows that the campaign was positively received by potential applicants. The new concept – ‘Think deeper – go further’ – was received more positively than previous years’ campaigns.

In 2017, the number of university applicants fell across Denmark. Aarhus University also saw a slight decline, but did well in terms of the number of admissions, with an increase in the number of students applying to Aarhus University as their first choice as well as a higher average grade point average.

Compared to the 2017 campaign, the young people who contributed to the evaluation mentioned that the concept was very relevant for them in that it focused on life as a student. In addition, the feedback highlighted the importance of being able to communicate with current students, because they can talk about the academic and social aspects, whereas student counsellors can talk about the framework for the degree programmes. Other important parameters affecting the choice of degree programme is the city, friends and the availability of student accommodation.

Based on the evaluation, the campaign for 2018 will be modified slightly, but Aarhus University will basically repeat the concept from 2017. An interdisciplinary recruitment group with representatives from all faculties will provide input to next year’s campaign.

The faculties may still launch their own campaign activities inspired by the university-wide concept, which was also very much the case in 2017. 

Knowledge and facts are decisive for democracy

The growing mistrust of facts, a lack of respect for knowledge and increasing apathy towards the news and the media are a threat to democracy, said Brian Bech Nielsen in his welcoming speech for 470 delegates at the Global Constructive Journalism conference which was held at Aarhus University on Thursday 26 October.

Journalism is an important pillar in a well-functioning democracy, and it is therefore very relevant to look at how to encourage citizens to take a keener interest in obtaining knowledge and facts from the media. Constructive journalism may be one of the answers. However, generally speaking, all social institutions are responsible for helping to restore the public’s confidence in and respect for knowledge and facts. Aarhus University takes this responsibility very seriously, assured Brian Bech Nielsen.

Give student entrepreneurs room to grow

In an op-ed in the Danish financial newspaper Børsen, Pro-rector Berit Eika argues that the most promising entrepreneurs should be exempted from the study progress reform’s penalty system. This would stimulate the Danish business community by supporting Aarhus University’s Dual Career initiative, which provides talented entrepreneurs with access to special advice and flexibility in planning their studies. The article comes in the wake of recommendations from the Ministry of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs’ entrepreneur panel as well as a Ministry of Higher Education and Science study which shows that university entrepreneurs have faster growth rates than other start-ups.

DKK 31 million to European research partnership headed by Aarhus University

A new European partnership headed by Aarhus University has just received a grant of DKK 31 million under the EU’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme. The partnership has been named ANTHUSIA (Anthropology of Human Security in Africa), and in the coming years will provide an insight into how organisations working in Africa can better address some of the biggest challenges on the African continent. The project is being headed by Lotte Meinert, a professor with special responsibilities (MSO) in anthropology.

DKK 300,000 to research into improved medication of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

Associate Professor Morten Schallburg Nielsen PhD from the Department of Biomedicine at Aarhus University is receiving DKK 300,000 from the Riisfort Foundation. The grant will go towards funding research into the blood-brain barrier, and lead to the improved medication of patients with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Medical students raise DKK 62,000 for Danish Cancer Society

On Saturday 21 October, the oncology society for medical students (Onkologisk Selskab for Medicinstuderende) brought together 550 enthusiastic runners for the Beat Cancer Run in the University Park. The students raised DKK 62,000 for the Danish Cancer Society.