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Diana Saplacan

Candidate for the University Board among the fixed-term employees with teaching and research positions

Nominated by

  • Ines Junge, Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Informatics, MN

Election platform

According to the University of Oslo (UiO) official report (pdf), UiO had around 3000 Ph.D. candidates in 2016, enrolled in 8 Ph.D. programmes. 42% of the Ph.D.’s are international Ph.D. candidates. To these numbers, adds up also all the other temporary employees, in postdoctoral or researcher positions.

I run for elections in order to represent the temporary employees in UiO Central Board based on my current and previous experience. With a Scandinavian, and international, multi-cultural background, I represent both the Norwegian and the Scandinavian temporary employees, but also other international temporary employees and their challenges. One of my main experiences have been to serve as the executive secretary of UiODoc, and lately, as a member of their Advisory Board. UiODoc is UiO’s interest organization for all temporary academic employees (e.g., Ph.D., PostDocs, researchers in temporary positions). This experience contributed to getting knowledge and insights about the current challenges that the temporary academic employees often encounter. Further, I widened my understanding of the temporary employees’ challenges through the Association of Doctoral Organizations in Norway (Norwegian: Stipendiatorganisajonen i Norge (stipendiat.no)), but also by lately participating in a workshop held by the University Library, in collaboration with International Staff Mobility Office (ISMO). Moreover, I was in touch with staff members from a local Ph.D. committee, as well as with employees on a fixed term contract.

My aim in my role as a representative of temporary employees in the Central Board, if elected, is to actively engage with the above named UiO’s organs and: (1) voice for the importance of improving the predictability of the employment for the temporary employees, (2) emphasize the importance of improving the psychosocial work environment, (3) emphasize the facilitation of a welcoming work environment with a cross-cultural awareness for both Norwegian and international temporary employees, (4) advocate for the importance of working towards improving the UiO’s services and supportive infrastructure for the temporary international employees, (5) emphasize the importance of strengthening a strategic and long term collaborative partnership amongst the existent temporary employees organizations, at different organizational levels, and (6) advocate for the importance of visibility of information and transparency in the information flow and decision making at different institutional levels. Each of these points are developed further below:

1. Improve the predictability of employment for temporary employees

  • Voicing for the importance of having a supportive infrastructure for transitioning to the work-market or staying in academia (e.g., career development programs and training).
  • Investigating the possibilities of adopting best practices, such as “implementation grants” (Norwegian “gjennomføringsstipend”) at other of the UiO’s institutions in order to secure the predictability of the job, but also to increase the deliveries of the Ph.D.’s theses in time.
  • Investigate and voice for following an academic degree model of licentiate degree (wikipedia.org), followed by a Ph.D. Degree, for those following a four-year Ph.D. employment. The licentiate degree can be taken after the first two years, according to an international model. This may reduce the sudden interruption of a four-year Ph.D. program, and increase the completion of a minimum of a licentiate degree.
  • Making visible the information about-, and encouraging the adoption of-, tenure-track positions at various institutions at UiO, aiming to attract, recruit, employ, and retain the best candidates that are highly qualified and can contribute to developing UiO’s profile at a national and international level.

2. Emphasizing the importance of improving the psycho-social work environment

  • Voice for working towards improving the psycho-social and health services at UiO that prevent stress, mental illnesses, and burnouts among temporary employees (e.g. voice towards increasing the visibility and access to individual counsel through intermediary agents, Norwegian “ombud”).
  • Voice for working towards increasing safe and healthy work environments and work cultures: where work-life balance is promoted and encouraged; where trust among coworkers is the rule, not the exception; where the temporary employees feel welcomed and their voices are heard and taken into consideration.

3. Facilitating a welcoming work environment with a cross-cultural awareness for both Norwegian and international temporary employees

  • Working towards creating a start course at the institutional level for new temporary employees, where the new temporary employees get to know their rights, responsibilities, their role and the expectations that are set on them, or the systems that are used. Starting for instance, in a new Ph.D. position, it is not always easy to know the role, responsibility, expectations, and the whole process of a Ph.D., especially if one is not familiar with the Norwegian academic environment, or the Norwegian regulations and laws.
  • Emphasizing the importance of mentorship programs at different academic levels, for the temporary employees.
  • Emphasizing the importance of providing courses on self-developing skills and competences for working in international, and cross-, inter-, and multi-disciplinary collaborative environments.

4. Working towards improving the UiO’s services and supportive infrastructure for the temporary international employees

  • Strengthening the UiO services regarding international temporary employees, in collaboration with International Staff Mobility Office (ISMO), on getting some practical and local support with the common challenges encountered by many of the international temporary employees (e.g., the process of finding an accommodation; setting up a Norwegian bank account before or immediate upon arrival; the possibility of getting individual juridical advice with filling in taxes, complementary to the general open courses on Norwegian Taxes; getting counsel on moving an ongoing health treatment to Norway, before or immediate upon arrival; easy access and availability of Norwegian language courses destined for temporary employees at UiO).
  • Working towards the availability of important central documents and information in both Norwegian and English.

5. Strengthening a strategic and long-term collaborative partnership amongst the existent temporary employees’ organizations, at different organizational levels

  • There are already existing Ph.D. councils at the institutional level, and UiODoc interest organization for Ph.D.’s, post-docs and other temporary employees, at the university level. I would like to increase their visibility and create possibilities for their cross-collaboration and mutual support.
  • Discussing the possibilities of elections in Ph.D. and Temporary employees’ boards to be increased to two years, in order to ensure the continuity, stability and transitioning of the boards.

6. Visibility of information and transparency in the information flow and decision making at different institutional levels

The information does not always reach different levels of the organization. Starting to work in a new place, and not being familiar with institutionalized processes and routines may create missed opportunities, create assumptions, miscommunication, and non-transparency. I would like to:

  • Advocate for the importance of cross-channel visibility of the information targeted towards temporary employees in the opportunities to grant applications that are available for them (e.g. Kristin Bonnevie travel stipend, grants targeted towards Young Researchers)
  • Emphasize the importance of improving the standardization of the routines and processes at the department, faculty and/or university level for each phase of the temporary employment in order to ensure transparent and non-discriminatory processes.
  • Advocate for the importance of improving the services for the centralization of information on standardized routines and processes regarding temporary employees, where the employee, and the employer, have easy access to information.

Finally, I believe that it is highly important to see the benefits of working together and maintain periodic contact at institutional-, university-, and national level together with other representative organs (e.g., UiODoc, Association of Doctoral Organization in Norway (stipendiat.no), International Staff Mobility Office), in order to find ways to solutionizing or comfort the challenges that the temporary employees encounter. My aim is that the points I have put forward above and my role of representing temporary employees in UiO’s central board should align with-, but at the same time ensure that the temporary employees' voice is heard, recognized, and considered along with the development of UiO’s Agenda 2030. All in all, finding long-term strategic solutions that will benefit both temporary employees, and the UiO on the long haul, is a valuable perspective, for all of us!

Background

Work experience:

  • Ph.D. UiO (2016-ongoing)
  • Lecturer, Kristianstad University (2013-)

Leadership roles and/or membership in academic boards:

  • UDFeed Project Coordination (2017-2019)
  • Member of the Advisory Board - UiODoc (2018-)
  • Program Committee Member (on behalf of UiODoc Advisory Board) – UiO Research Bazaar (2018-2019)
  • NordiCHI SV chair - responsible for the recruitment of SV's (2018)
  • Deputy Representative - University of Oslo Central Electoral Board (vara) (2018- 2019) / Representanter for de midlertidig vitenskapelig ansatte i det sentrale valgstyret
  • Member of the Executive Committee Board UiODoc - Secretary of the Executive Committee Board (2017-2018)
  • Member of the National Association of Doctoral Organizations in Norway (Stipendiatorganisajonena i Norge) (2017-2018)
  • Demola South Sweden Network, Project Facilitator (2014-2015)

Other roles (Non-Academic):

  • UN Student Association member, Oslo (2018)
  • Member of the Executive Committee - Program Associate, Global Women in Tech (GWiT) (2017-)

International engagement:

  • Linnaeus-Palme - design of exchange programme - Kristianstad University - Ubaya University, Surabaya, Indonesia (September 2016)
  • World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) at International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Geneva, Switzerland (May 2016) – focus on Sustainable Development Goals, Agenda 2030
  • ABI.local Amsterdam at Google, Amsterdam, Netherlands (April 2016)

Education:

  • MSc, Embedded Systems, Kristianstad University, Sweden (Best Student Award)
  • BSc Computer Science, Kristianstad University, Sweden (Best Student Award)

See more on my current and previous experiences.

Published May 2, 2019 4:17 PM - Last modified May 2, 2019 4:21 PM