Group B employees are temporary staff, employed in academic positions, and includes research fellows. One member and three deputy board members will be elected for a period of one year.
På Høyden asked the candidates the following questions:
1. How would you describe yourself?
2. Why do you deserve a place on the University Board?
3. What do you think will be the most important issues in the coming period?
Here are their answers:
Jonas Gade Christiansen, PhD at the Department of Economics
1. I am a third year PhD research fellow and currently represent group B employees on the institute board, and therefore also on the newly established executive committee for group B at the Faculty of Social Sciences. I have previously held appointments in specialist committees both at the Department of Economics and the Department of Comparative Politics.
2. During my years at the University of Bergen I have been constantly engaged in issues concerning the university as a whole, and my own group in particular. Experience gained from various departments has made me aware of the differences and similarities between these. Studying at universities in Chile and Spain has also helped me to gain a broader perspective of how the UiB is organised and run.
3. At present, the university is working on important issues concerning research education at the UiB. A lot of focus has been placed on increasing the out-put of doctorate candidates. This is important work, but there mustnt be too much focus placed on the number of candidates. Initiatives such as halfway evaluation can help to improve supervision and can produce better theses. Such initiatives should focus on constructive evaluation of the candidates work, and not be used as a means of pressure. It is also important to maintain flexibility for the individual research fellow so that they can choose how best to run their project, both through choice of course, the possibility of studying at a foreign university, and in connection with field work. If the PhD programme is to function as a means of educating researchers and recruiting future employees, then it is important to have a longer perspective than the disputation, and see it as an integral part of the process of creating post doctor positions.
Kristian Kobbenes Starheim, PhD at the Department of Surgical Sciences (Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry) and the Department of Molecular Biology (Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences).
1. I am 27 years old, BSc and MSc in molecular biology from the University of Bergen. I have also studied philosophy at UiB along with molecular biology. I was a research assistant at the Department of Molecular Biology for a year before I became a research fellow, which I have been for two years now. Im member of the PhD committee at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, and the Graduate School of Clinical Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry.
2. I have become more and more interested in the working conditions of temporarily employed staff at universities as Ive seen how the employees experience the situation. And I have some good suggestions as to how to make improvements. It is also important to represent the whole of group B and not just persons with specific faculty interests. I will invite group B representatives from various groups to help get issues up before the University Board. I have a multidisciplinary background, which I believe will be an advantage when representing so many different groups.
3. The most concrete is to fight to make UiB a good employer for the temporary academic staff. Like many others, I have followed the Brainwashing debate this spring. It would be difficult to find a better example to illustrate the importance of decorum in higher education. As a philosophically interested natural science academic I would like to stress the importance of multidisciplinary on Nygårdshøyden.
Sigrunn Eliassen, researcher at the Department of Biology.
1. I am a researcher in the field of eco-modelling at the Department of Biology where I lead a research project financed by the Research Council of Norway. I am at present a member of the University Board and have experience from various UiB committees.
2. My year on the University Board has given me an overall view of the important issues and provided me with experience that I will be able to make further use of. I stand for election because Im interested in research and recruitment politics at UiB, especially with regard to temporary staff. UiB has more temporary than permanent academic employees and we are a group that is growing constantly. Seven years of service, both as research fellow and post doctor and researcher has given me an insight into the challenges faced by this group. I have had four temporary contracts with UiB in three years and know all about the uncertainty that comes with this type of career choice.
3. UiB must focus on having a long-term strategic recruitment programme that provides possibilities for research funding and co-operation between different institutes. We need to recruit and look after highly qualified colleagues and inform about career possibilities at the university and UiB affiliates. In the ongoing strategy process at UiB, it will be important to look at the relationship between research development and recruitment. This requires an active personnel policy with regard to temporary employees, and extensive co-operation concerning common areas of commitment with other research institutions in the region.
Hanne Haslene-Hox, PhD student at the Department of Biomedicine
1. I came to the University of Bergen in the last half year of my chartered engineer studies at NTNU, to write a Masters thesis. The Masters thesis was followed by half a year as department engineer and I received a research fellowship funded by the university in January 2009, and have soon been here for nearly one and a half years. I am a deputy member of the research committee at the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and am member of the research fellowship group in Tekna Researchers, who look at working conditions for research fellows here in Norway and decide on which targets to aim for.
2. I think its very important to focus on working conditions for temporary employees at the university. A research fellowship is for many their first taste of being employed. It is important that it is a positive experience, not just with good professional guidance, but with a strong, clear administrative follow-up. The follow-up from the university should include career counselling and a clear plan for recruitment in a permanent position. In a few years from now, many of the universitys professors will become pensioners and then it will be important to have highly qualified and competent employees that can take over. In order to achieve this, the university must have a strategy for keeping the best candidates. The average age for gaining permanent employment in the university and college sector is at present 43, and this must be reduced. It is also important that temporary employees are given the same benefits and administrative rights as those who have permanent employment, e.g. appraisal interviews, good working hours, salary when travelling abroad and payment for overtime.
3. Minister of Research and Higher Education, Tora Aasland, launched a committee Numbers and Initiatives on the 24th March, which will, during the next six months, look at temporary appointments in the university and college sector. The results will be ready this autumn. It will be important to follow-up these results during the coming year. I will work towards the university implementing a clear strategy that will reduce the time employees spend in temporary positions at the University of Bergen and that research fellows, post doctors and other temporary employees receive good professional and administrative follow-up throughout their entire period of employment.