HoD News - 30 April 2019

2019.04.30 | Niels Haldrup

Niels Haldrup

Dear colleagues,

Course coordination
The preparations for the new course coordination are on track according to the schedule, so the section heads and the new teaching coordinators will take over the course coordination responsibility starting 1 June 2019. Presently, the final allocation of courses across sections is negotiated amongst the section heads and will be completed within the next couple of weeks. The list of new coordinators will be made public soon. At this stage I would like to thank all outgoing course coordinators, who will now pass the relay to their successors. It is important that we have rotation in solving administrative tasks within the department, and I appreciate your fantastic work and efforts over several years to solve the complex (and often considered thankless) coordination task. Thanks for that.

Norm system
One of the next major administrative tasks to be implemented within the department is the adjustment of our norm system for the recording of teaching and administrative tasks. In the department management team, we have initiated the discussions based on the input we received during the department retreat meeting in Horsens in November 2018. I believe it is very important that the new norm system is transparent in every respect. The Excelsior platform, used at our sister department MGMT, will ease the transparency. The new norm system will have minor adjustments as to how various activities are priced, there will be an attempt to make the price system less detailed, and I believe there will be a norm differentiation reflecting the costs of preparing new courses and repeating courses that have been taught before.

One of the first tasks will be to decide what to do with old balances in the new norm system. There are two separate balances recorded for historical activities. There is a balance for activities prior to 2012 before the AU-ASB merger, and there is a balance (recorded in Vipomatic) for individuals since the merger in 2012. Presently, I have conversations with individuals about the clearing of the old balances before the merger. These balances reflect historical recordings based on different norm systems across AU and ASB before the merger, and my view is that we must clear these balances in a pragmatic way. Regarding the balances you know in the current Vipomatic system, I have decided that these balances should be transferred to the new norm system. Hence, historical surpluses (and deficits) since 2012 will remain as a starting balance. However, current activities can be displayed in many ways, and I plan to publish more detailed and informative figures about teaching and administrative activities across individuals and sections.

External funding and overhead
The past couple of years our department has shown great momentum along several dimensions. We attract more students to our programs, the research production is increasing, and the attraction of external research funding shows a very strong upward trend. Notwithstanding, the revenues from teaching activities are not showing an equal increase, mainly due to the 2% annual revenue cuts that are planned to continue for the coming years according to the decisions of the current government. Gladly, this gap has been filled so far by increases in external funding from public and particularly from private sources. However, this redistribution of revenue sources gives rise to challenges, because private funds typically do not include the 44% overhead that follows public external funds. The overhead is supposed to cover costs for administration, housing, research equipment etc.

I am glad to see that the AU Senior Management Team and the AU Board are aware that the increased external funding challenges the universities and departments with a decentralized budget model. In the most recent newsletter of the Senior Management Team, the Director of the AU Board, Connie Hedegaard, describes these challenges. Currently, Danish Universities, as a unified sector, together with the Ministry, are engaged in a constructive dialogue with the private funds to address the overhead problem, and hopefully a solution will be found with direct impact for departmental budgets. The incentive scheme should be such that the attraction of external research funding is always to be preferred. It does not make sense that a department head should consider whether grant money is too costly to receive.

Niels Haldrup

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