Making the Possibilities of
The university sector is currently taking concrete steps
to increase collaboration between organisers of education.
Increased collaboration can also open up outlooks
on developing teachers' competence.
Communication about this has, however, been insufficient
thus far. Many teachers and researchers are
completely unaware of what a collaboration contract that their own
university has signed with another university involves and what it
means in practice.
The strategic collaboration of five universities (U5) aims at, for example,
joint degrees and the promotion of education export. Increasing
this kind of collaboration can have a lot of impact on the work of
teachers and researchers.
On the level of organisation and data systems, combining functions
is to some extent simpler than creating joint educational programs,
even though institutional cultures and data systems differ.
Increased collaboration needs to begin with the goal of realising
the basic tasks of universities even better. A well-functioning administration
and other staff should not be lost in the middle of reforms
due to hasty staff cuts. Teachers and researchers should also not be invisibly
burdened with increased workloads. It is safest to enter times
of change with the entire existing staff, not with a diminished organisation.
The risks and possibilities that are related to teaching and research should be discussed on a more concrete level than
what is currently done. In teaching, risks are perceived
to relate to the control and ownership of one's
own work. Participation in both planning and implementing
teaching forms the core of a teacher's work.
Vaguely defined objectives relating to the allocation
of teachers' work into new educational programs
are likely to cause resistance to change - maybe for
a reason, maybe not. If the objectives of reforms are
not known or assessments of their effects are vague,
reforms are frowned upon. At the same time, dissatisfaction
with an authoritarian institutional culture
gains more weight.
A teachers' work consists of his or her own research
and content that arises from it, planning responsibility,
teaching philosophy and the freedom to put
the curriculum into action. These cannot be joined
together in the same way and as quickly as organisations.
From the point of view of a student, increasing the
course offerings could add to the appeal of a university.
But what does aiming at increasing the mobility of
teachers and students mean in practice for a teacher's
work? And what about attempts to create study paths that are independent of divisions between universities?
Discussing the division of educational work requires
the participation of teaching and research staff,
so that decisions that are unwise and too formulaic on
a national level will not be made. Moreover, in the
possible reconciliation of educational content, the
real experts of that content are needed.
The brainstorming and planning phases require more
encouragement to participate and assessment of the
effects on the content of the work. Does collaboration
bring effectiveness and savings? How? How could it
help to free up time for planning teaching? How does
it contribute to teachers' research work and possibilities
for other scientific activities? Is the employer
committed to jobs?
Communication about increasing collaboration
between universities needs to happen in such a way
that the staff gets a clear idea of what is to be gained
from it. The expertise of staff needs to be used in the
planning and implementation in order to aim at impact.
And most importantly, enough time needs to be
reserved for this.
Chair, The Union for
University Teachers and
Researchers in Finland, YLL
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