Heidi Østbø Haugen
Candidate for the University Board among the fixed-term employees with teaching and research positions.
- Athanasia Monika Mowinckel, PhD Scholar, Department of Psychology
- Nan Zou Bakkeli, PhD Scholar, Department of Sociology and Human Geography
- Nora Elise Hesby Mathe, PhD-stipendiat, Institutt for lærerutdanning og skoleforskning
- Eili Tranheim Kase, Adjunct Professor, School of Pharmacy
- Ivo Spira, Postdoctoral Reseracher, Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages
The temporary academic staff at the University of Oslo (UiO) is diverse group. We have in common that we are ambitious on behalf of our research and teaching. If elected for the University Board, I will work to improve the conditions for temporary academic staff to help us to reach our potential. This is crucial both to the development of the university (where we undertake a large share of the research) and to our careers.
I completed my PhD in Human Geography at UiO in 2013. My current postdoctoral project is funded by the Research Council of Norway. While based at UiO, I had two children and completed two periods as a guest researcher abroad. Through my years as a PhD- and postdoctoral scholar, I learned about the possibilities and challenges facing temporary academic staff at various stages of the career.
I have previously worked on research policies at the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research. This gave me valuable insight into the policy environment the university maneuvers within. I will use this understanding to promote issues of importance to temporary academic staff. UiO is entering a period that’s pivotal to our group: A new employment category for temporary academic staff will be introduced, and the university’s strategy to promote interdisciplinarity and quality in education and research will be implemented.
The following issues are particularly important to me:
A large share of the research at UiO is undertaken by temporary academic staff. A temporary contract should not diminish one’s influence over decisions at the workplace. Temporary staff should therefore be included in strategy processes and have equal terms of employment to their permanently employed colleagues. Temporary academic staff should also be represented on all relevant university boards and committees.
The competition for employment after a temporary contract is hard, making fair hiring processes especially important. Positions at UiO should be filled through transparent and predictable procedures that provide legitimacy to the decisions made.
The Norwegian Government has recently allocated 45 tenure track positions to UiO. These are temporary contracts intended for researchers with a PhD degree that may lead to permanent hirings. It is crucial for the tenure track positions to be filled in open and fair ways. Furthermore, the introduction of tenure track positions should not be used as a rationale to neglect the allocation of resources for traditional early career opportunities.
So-called “sorting committees” (sorteringskomiteer) have recently been granted extensive power in hiring processes at UiO. I see it as a task for the University Board to pay attention to this development and assess whether the use of sorting committees represent a threat to the transparency of employment decisions.
Predictability is also central to the daily work of temporary academic staff. The quality of the administrative support in connection with events such as parental leaves, international exchanges, and sick leaves is crucial. Robust systems and good communication between academic and administrative staff are needed to secure such support, and the routines for welcoming new temporary academic staff ought to be strengthened.
The University of Oslo is an attractive institution for researchers and students from across the world, and should keep enhancing its international profile. Foreigners constitute a large share of the temporary academic staff at UiO. We should continue to recruit internationally and improve the ways in which foreign staff is received.
International exposure is increasingly important to succeed at the academic labor market. Strengthening the cooperation between the University of Oslo and foreign universities and research environments is crucial to promoting researcher mobility. Furthermore, guidance to opportunities for international cooperation and exchanges should be offered to PhD- and postdoctoral scholars early in their employment periods.
Temporary academic staff at the PhD level is in a unique situation at the university: They are both in need for high-quality training and supervision and they are expected to produce high-quality research results. Many teach as well. A crucial task for the University Board is to ensure that PhD students at UiO receive an internationally competitive education. The university must continuously strengthen its own course portfolio as well as encourage PhD students to acquire specialized knowledge elsewhere.
Temporary academic staff at all levels should be offered training in pedagogics and teaching methods. Much of the instruction at UiO is provided by temporary staff, and pedagogical guidance is needed to guarantee the teaching standard. The pedagogical instruction should be offered at an early stage, but there is also need for support to continue the development of teaching methods.
Career guidance is needed at the postdoctoral level. UiO has offered female academic temporary employees a mentor program that should be further developed and extended to men as well.
- Human Geographer with degrees from the University of Oslo (PhD in 2013);
- Studies at the National University of Singapore, the Princeton in Beijing and Beijing Normal University;
- My postdoctoral research (2013-2017, funded by the Research Council of Norway) focuses on exports from China to West Africa;
- Guest researcher at the National University of Singapore (2010) and Sun Yat-sen University (2014);
- Vulnerability analysis at the UN world Food Program in Rome and Dakar (2006-2008);
- Development of research policy at the Department of Education and Research (2004-2006);
- Board member of United World Colleges (Norway), the Nordic Association for China Studies, the Red Cross Nordic United World College, and the Chinese and Africa/Africans in China Research Network.