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Faculty organisation, environmental certification and Metochi sustainability

These and other matters were discussed by the University Board on 1 February 2023.

illustration of people sitting around a table

The first University Board meeting this year included a dialogue meeting with the Mathematics Education Research Group at Agder (MERGA), one of UiA’s priority research centres.

The centre conducts research on the issues of mathematics teaching and learning in many settings.

New governance model at the faculties

The University Board followed up on the decision in November 2022 to change the governance model (from two-tier to unified management) at UiA’s faculties and the teacher educations, by establishing what the change will entail.

It was decided that the new model will be in force at all the faculties from 1 January 2024. For four of the seven units, this corresponds to the dean’s period of office.

The period of office for Dean Hans Hodne at the Faculty of Humanities and Education will be extended by half a year, until the end of 2023, while processes are underway with regard to the two faculties whose deans’ terms were supposed to end in 2025, the School of Business and Law at UiA and the Faculty of Fine Arts. The boards at the faculties and the Teacher Education Unit will have their terms extended until the end of 2023.

New proposals for the organisation of the faculties and the teacher educations at UiA were adopted as proposed with one exception. A proposal was made that the dean’s role, which from 2024 changes from being the chair of the faculty board to being the secretary of the board, should be replaced by a temporary academic staff member. This was adopted unanimously. From 2024, one of the external board representatives will take on the role of faculty board chair.

The role of the faculty directors is clarified in the new provisions to ensure a relatively similar framework for the top administrative leaders of the faculties across the institution. This is important so that UiA can continue to have one coherent administration.

A proposal was raised for the overall scientific responsibility to be made clear in the instructions to the role of the dean, but this proposal was defeated by 4 votes to 5. The instructions to the dean are prepared as they are to take care of the formal responsibility, but without restricting the dean’s scope for action.

UiA will get environmental certification

The University Board has previously adopted an ambitious environment and climate action plan for 2020 to 2023. In this meeting, the board decided that the administration should continue their efforts to get an environmental certification for UiA’s operations.

What type of certification UiA will go for is still not decided, but so far, a lot of work has been done with Miljøfyrtårn (Eco Lighthouse). Much of what is needed to be certified is already in place at UiA, but certification requires this work to be better documented and presented.

Sustainability analysis of UiA’s Metochi operations

In connection with the adoption of UiA’s travel policy, questions were raised about the sustainability of the operation of UiA’s campus Metochi on the island of Lesvos in Greece. An interdisciplinary committee was set up and has now produced a sustainability analysis of the activities at Metochi, covering economic, social and environmental sustainability.

Some main findings are:

  • UiA’s activity at Metochi scores highly on several sustainability indicators and accounts for less than 1% of UiA’s emissions
  • Travel by plane to and from Lesvos accounts for around 85% of the climate effects of the activity, but travel is expected to be less environmentally damaging in the future
  • It is possible to develop the activity further in a sustainable direction, especially by developing solar energy
  • Around one in three visitors are UiA employees, the others are external visitors
  • The operation is self-financing, and there is little need for further maintenance and upgrades in the coming years
  • UiA has an important role in the local community through its activities at Metochi

Based on the report, the University Board noted that large parts of the activity at Metochi are sustainable, and decided that:

  • Travel to Metochi must be assessed according to the same travel policy as other UiA travel
  • The university director is asked to consider the proposal in the report to continue the sustainable development of Metochi
  • The board will again consider the matter of further activity at Metochi before the current lease expires in 2029

It is assumed that Metochi will be increasingly used for external rather than for internal seminars. 

Other items at the meeting

  • The board took under consideration the annual plans of the faculties, the teacher educations and the administration. The plans are how the units follow up UiA’s overall strategy from year to year
  • The board adopted an investment plan for 2023-2024 totalling NOK 51 million. The investments have all been previously approved. Among the investments are supercomputers for research into artificial intelligence (8 million), facilities for the battery investment (7 million) and solar panels on Campus Grimstad (4 million)
  • The board reviewed the 2023 letter of allocation from the Ministry of Education
  • The board was updated on the follow-up plan after the internal audit and asked the university director to work on a collaboration agreement with the institutions UiA has collaborated with on the audits
  • The board was informed about planned items on the board agenda in 2023
  • The board received a presentation of the 2022 Candidate Survey, a survey among former UiA students

 All agenda documents for the University Board meeting on 1 February 2023 (Norwegian only)