The consultation for Aarhus University’s 2025 strategy is now open
The draft version of AU’s coming strategy is now available for staff and students to read and comment on. The proposed strategy represents a continuation of the university’s current course, with the addition of new targets and focus areas.
“It’s a clarification and an elaboration of our existing course.”
In brief, this is how Rector Brian Bech Nielsen characterises the new strategy, a draft version of which has just been released for a university-wide consultation.
“We have a strong university that has wind in its sails, and we have a number of long-range strategic initiatives that will continue in coming years, such as the strategic focus on the expansion of IT and engineering programmes, as well as business programmes and primary school programmes. So there’s no reason to revolutionise everything. Generally speaking, we’re attempting to define our existing course even more precisely, but we’ve also included new focus areas. The university is constantly on the move, as is the world around us, and the new strategy has to embrace that,” he explains.
What excites us – and how do we share that with society?
Rector Bech Nielsen hopes that the consultation will serve to spark a more general debate on the university’s role in society that will engage both staff and students:
“It’s important to me that we set the bar for our academic ambitions extremely high with this strategy. Not only for our own sake, but also to show the world around us that we have high ambitions for our contribution to society. In this light, I hope that the strategy will initiate a conversation about what excites us about our subjects and our core activities – and not least about how we can create value for society by realising them in practice. Ultimately, this is what the targets and initiatives in the strategy are all about.”
From vision to sub-target
The essence of the strategy is that Aarhus University creates values for society through three core activities, research, education and collaboration. The strategy divides these activities into six equally important core tasks:
- Basic research of high international quality
- Research-based degree programmes of high international quality
- Contributing to society’s development and prosperity
- Research-based solutions to societal challenges
- Graduates for the labour market of the future
- Development of research talents and research integration.
There are targets and sub-targets associated with each core task that point towards concrete initiatives. For example, the sub-targets associated with the task basic research include improving career development opportunities and achieving greater diversity in the research programmes.
“The initiative to improve gender balance and diversity is one example of a theme that is highlighted much more prominently than before. This is an area we’ve become much more conscious of than was the case when the last strategy was drafted in 2012. We are more conscious that diversity is important both in relation to quality of our core activities and in relation to the work environment, and so we’re proposing to put it centre stage as one of the university’s primary targets towards 2025,” the rector says.
He points to sustainability as another university-wide theme that will play a greater role at the university in coming years. In this connection, he notes that a parallel process of drafting a separate and complementary sustainability strategy is currently ongoing.
Bridges to the world
Rector Bech Nielsen also singles out internationalisation as an important university-wide strategic priority that includes concrete sub-targets to increase the number of international applicants to academic positions and to establish more partnerships with institutions abroad. But in the rector’s view, internationalisation also has a larger social and political dimension:
“More of the world’s countries are starting to isolate themselves. We’re seeing protectionist tendencies in business, in politics and in culture. And I think it’s important that we as universities fight to maintain our role as builders of bridges to the outside world. Knowledge, talent and ideas must have the freedom to cross borders. And collaboration across national borders on both research and education has always been in the universities’ DNA. In the senior management team, we’ve been quite determined to emphasise this in the strategy – which is why connecting Denmark and the world is included in the very vision itself.” It cannot be spelled out too clearly: It’s not just crucial – but absolutely, utterly crucial – for a country like Denmark that its universities think and act internationally.”
The Strategy 2025 process thus far
- The draft of the university’s new strategy was composed by the senior management team in dialogue with the Aarhus University Board and the rest of the university’s executive management (heads of department/school and centres).
The next steps in the Strategy 2025 process
- The consultation for the draft strategy will remain open until 24 October at 9:00.
- Staff and students are encouraged to discuss the draft and submit their input to their local department/school management team, liaison organisation or student organisation. The faculty management teams and department/school management teams are organising and conducting the consultation processes at the local level.
The draft has been forwarded to:
- Departments and schools
- LEA (the administration's management team)
- The academic councils
- The Student Council, Konservative Studerende and Frit Forum
- The Main Liaison Committee, the Main Occupational Health and Safety Committee, the faculty liaison committees and the the Administration's Liaison Committee.