Eight exciting years at Ilisimatusarfik ..
.. end with great gratitude when I stop 31 March ..
What kind of institution am I leaving?
It is an important institution for society that with its dedicated group of employees grows and receives more and more young people who want to take a higher education. Several new programmes have been developed, more on the way - and the goal is that a natural science programme can be established from 2018, and hopefully the law degree in public administration can also be established fairly quickly. Both programmes are now under serious planning, and I look forward to follow the development of them both from the sidelines.
It is also an institution where internationalisation is paramount - we have particularly noticed a positive change among our students, who are going abroad more than previously. From having had about a handful of exchange students per year – today, about 50 of our students go abroad annually.
We have strengthened the focus on our lecturers' pedagogical skills, so that all must have attended and passed pedagogy and peer supervision. We have increased focus on academic cooperation across different programmes both educationally and in terms of research, and annually we allocate funds for this very purpose.
One of the things I am most proud of having been part of is the development in terms of our PhD programme. Ever since the first PhD defense in 2009, Ilisimatusarfik has produced nine PhDs - and currently we have 11 PhD students. The interest in doing a PhD is increasing, and it is great for Greenland and Ilisimatusarfik in particular, because it allows an increased recruitment base for researchers and teaching positions. The cooperation with the Danish universities has been important in this context, because more finish on a joint degree.
Today, we have a good dialogue with the Self-rule Government to introduce accreditation of our programmes. That the country's university demonstrates how we work with quality assurance is in everyone's interest. In my opinion, we should demand quality assurance guidelines from all educational institutions in the country.
New goals for the future?
One of the major challenges that the university has and must do something about is the great drop-out rate, where nearly half almost systematically drop out. We have increased the admission requirements on some of the programmes - and increased language skills and more knowledge about our programmes among the future students is something that can be addressed. One of the last things I will do is to suggest establishing a language center that will support students' language skills and involve lecturers in the increased linguistic focus.
At the Institute of Learning they work at revising the teacher programme. There must and should be a tremendous boost of the programme if it is to contribute to improving the public school's performance. In Norway (like in Finland), soon they introduce a teaching programme that lasts 5-years, and at masters level. Greenland could consider the same, because it takes a lot!
If Ilisimatusarfik is to deliver the research that society expects of us, the university needs to strengthen its research so that it relies even more on external funding and external cooperation. It becomes the new management's task to ensure that this happens. Ilisimatusarfik must and will grow research-wise, and it requires new visions, new methods and new strengths to do the job. I think that partnership is the key word in this context. Ilisimatusarfik must play its cards right in relation to the ambition to establish an Arctic research hub with other universities.
This summer, our journalist programme arranges a course in research communication for our students and journalists in the field. Research communication to society at large is one of the things Ilisimatusarfik can do better. We need more communication in the Greenlandic language, and we should not just settle with communicating our latest research. Our institution has such a large amount of knowledge that we can inform the general citizenry about. It is important that the university also looks at itself in that role, and not only in relation to students.
Everyone wants more innovation in Greenland, and I am pleased that we are gradually moving to establish measures and cooperation with other universities to prepare and educate our students and employees to think innovatively. As society changes, the university's role also changes. Expectations for the university grow. The country is facing multiple and complex challenges, which means that we as students and staff at the university have to ask ourselves the questions: Do we focus enough on our opportunities? Can we find new ways to create knowledge and development in this country, where we need knowledge, growth and long-term solutions? It will be interesting to see, if we can really move in terms of contributing to the development of the business area, and in how we organize our society.
Ilisimatusarfik and Greenland have so much to be proud of. Every day, all employees work hard and they are all to be credited for the fact that the number of graduates is increasing steadily. Thank you for making a difference for Greenland every day. Thank you to all those who support the university, and to all those who cooperate with us at home and abroad - and who can see how important it is to have an institution containing knowledge and education that root the research and make it benefit society.
Finally, I would like to express my gratitude to all the people I have met - gratitude for the experience and knowledge I bring with me, and not least that I can entrust the management to a talented and committed group of people both at board level and in the daily management.