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More time is spent on teaching

Increased expectations from students and a growing number of self-service solutions have changed the workday for academic staff, according to new report.

NORCE-report: Work tasks at UiA

On commission from UiA, NORCE has conducted a survey of work tasks among academic staff at UiA. 26 employees from all departments were interviewed, and a survey was carried out among all permanent academic staff, with a response rate of about 60 per cent.

The NORCE report has been discussed in various management groups at UiA , and this week the results will be presented to the UiA Board.

Work tasks

Vice Rector for Research and Interdisciplinary Projects Hans Kjetil Lysgård

Vice Rector for Research and Interdisciplinary Projects Hans Kjetil Lysgård

“The report explores the work tasks that are performed in detail, but it also draws a bigger picture showing what consequences several years of changes and development in the higher education sector has had on the workday of our academic staff. It is an interesting read, and something to discuss further”, says Vice Rector for Research and Interdisciplinary Projects Hans Kjetil Lysgård.

The report finds that a significant proportion of academic staff feel they spend more time teaching than they used to. The same is the case with core tasks, administrative tasks, and other tasks.

The report also shows that staff feel there is little change in the time spent on tasks related to research and academic and artistic development work, dissemination, and outreach activities.

 Three overarching changes

“There are three types of relationships which seem to have contributed to increased time being spent on teaching and new work tasks for academic staff”, says Lysgård.

There are changes in the relationship between:

  • students and academic staff, as seen in higher expectations of frequent contact and quick resolutions
  • administration and academic staff, as seen in a trend away from interaction between the two groups towards increased self-service
  • changes in the relationship between students and the overarching university system, characterised by increased rights and increased protection for students

Responsibility for learning

Many of our employees are positive to increased contact with students, even if it takes more time.

“Together with our students, we must look more closely at the expectations students and employees have of this contact and seek to find good solutions. We need to look at how we teach and what kind of learning culture we have”, says Lysgård.

Vice Rector for Education Morten Brekke

Vice Rector for Education Morten Brekke

Vice Rector for Education Morten Brekke also has an important role here.

“In recent years, we have developed a number of measures for first-year students, such as ‘FYSE’ (First Year Study Environment) at the Faculty of Engineering and Science and ‘God start’ at the Faculty of Humanities and Education. We will continue to work on that”, says Brekke.

“We will also consider changes in assessment and teaching methodology, more use of student assistants, and better organisation of teaching time”, says Brekke.

Collaboration between academic and administrative staff

In recent years, the number of staff at UiA has grown, both in terms of academic and technical/administrative staff. It seems like new systems and reporting requirements have increased the distance between the two groups. Examples are tasks related to systems for quality assurance, various forms of reporting, and analogue and digital registration.

“It may seem like the relationship is characterised, not by interaction, but by self-service”, says Lysgård.

“We need interaction and cooperation between the employee groups. We will look at how we can develop the relationship further, and also see how we can organise and improve our academic and research administrative support”, says Lysgård. He explains that in January 2021, changes in the organisation of UiA's support services will be adopted. And administrative staff will develop its services and change the interaction with academic staff in connection with the implementation of the ORG19adm project.

Review of R&D time management system

The university will start a review of the System for research and development (R&D).

“The NORCE report will form the basis for this discussion. We will take a closer look at the expectations academic staff have with respect to R&D and how it can be better organised”, says Lysgård.

Here are the slides from NORCE's own presentation of the report - in Norwegian: