Political Platform 2014-15
The Student Parliament of the University of Oslo (UiO) represents about 27,000 students. This political platform is our supreme political document, with our vision for the University and higher education.
University of Oslo is Norway's largest university and a major actor in our society. Education and research must benefit both the individual and society. Students are an important resource for the community and they represent the future of ideas, attitudes and solutions.
1.0 Our university
The Student Parliament wants a university built on the principles of equal rights to education, academic freedom and collegiality. UiO should be a broad university with excellent teaching, research and dissemination, where the three are tightly interconnected. To ensure a strong and vibrant university democracy, openness and pellucidity is a prerequisite.
1.1 Fundamental Values
Equal right to education is the bedrock of the Norwegian education system. Higher education should not be a privilege for the few but a benefit to society and a right for the individual, regardless of social, economic, ethnic or national background. The student parliament defines all knowledge produced at UiO as a commonly owned good that belongs to everyone. The principle of free education is an essential part of the welfare state and is the primary means for achieving equal access to education. People with different backgrounds think differently and have different ideas about how to solve our common challenges. The university should be a place open to all, where we together find solutions for future challenges.
Academic freedom includes the rights and obligations of the institution, academic staff and students. This includes the right to freely choose topics, methods, sources, draw independent conclusions from the research and channel for publishing, without intervention. The University will ensure and protect academic freedom, both for academic staff and students.
Collegiality means that academic staff, research fellows and students are, on an equal footing, part of a community built on the university's goals and values. This requires proximity between academic employees and students so that mutual expectations can be realized.
1.2 Student Participation
Active student participation is important for university democracy because it is the students who are the future of the university and represent new and fresh perspectives. Therefore, the statutory requirement of 20% student representation must be a minimum requirement. The University must be a leading European university when it comes to student representation. The student parliament believes that there should be an effort to ensure gender equality in all commitees and councils.
Training is essential to student participation to function at its best, and the student parliament believes that every faculty has a responsibility and a duty to introduce routines for ensuring implementation of such training. Therefore, training must be offered to all new members of boards, committees and commissions at the university. Organization at the University emphasizes the proximity model. This means that cases should be resolved as close as possible to where they occur. Where it is necessary or desirable, the Student Parliament must assist student councils and boards at all levels to resolve matters locally.
Associations and social clubs at the University are an essential part of the student movement, and an important complement to academic pursuits as they provide a venue where academic staff and students can meet on an equal footing. The university should increase its use of the student pubs’ and the Norwegian students’ society’s (DNS) expertise and support their work.
2.0 Education quality
The University of Oslo's main purpose is to provide outstanding education. The University must provide its students with the knowledge and skills they need to create a better future, and to allow students to develop professional knowledge, critical skills and bildung.
UiO should offer research based and up-to-date education. This means that the proffessors should be doing research on and be close to the topic that is taught. The theaching methods must be varied and each faculty has a responsibility to develop existing local methods as well as be a driving force in developing new methods.
The tight connection between education and research is a hallmark of academia. Beginning on bachelor level students should therefore get the opportunity to be involved in ongoing research projects. In order to make the education as close to the research being done it is essential that the academic employees are not exempted from theaching.
When hiring new academic employees the student parliament believes that the ability to communicate the academic material should, to a greater extent, be an important factor. This can be achieved by using trial lectures as part of the hiring process. That this communicative ability is maintained is essential and it is secured by offering a wide array of pedagogic courses to all academic employees. Studentevaluation in combination with evaluation done by academic colleagues are fundamental tools in assuring the quality of the education.
Varied forms of education and evaluation stimulate the creativity, critical thinking, academic commitment and bildung of the students. As the largest university in Norway UiO must be take the lead in terms of innovative forms of education and evaluation. The student parliament believes that such innovations and advances must be prioritized. This can be achieved thorugh incentives like awards or a yearly interfacultary seminar. The student parliament believes that the good solutions and methods can be found and developed localy on the faculty and institute level. The student parliament believes that there could be a broader cooperation between the locale levels of the university, sucha s faculties and institutes, and other institutions and organization in society. The university must prioritize proximity between education and profession in all its programs.
All students must automatically receive a written explanation of their examination results on StudentWeb. The reason should be qualitative and individual. When students submit complaints about the exam the university must use blind reevaluation and ensure the students’ anonymity at all times.
Student Parliament wants greater use of varied forms of assessment, such as portfolio assessment, home exam and oral exam in addition to at-campus-examination. Where appropriate, the examination and submission of assignments must be done digitally, while at the same time offering an analog alternative in the transitional period.
The Student Parliament wants to avoid grades in medicine, dentistry, psycology and clinical nutrition.
A Bachelor’s Degree from the University must provide an independent expertise that is relevant and useful to society. The university must provide students with sufficient information about the curriculum and what skills you should have acquired by graduation. All bachelor degrees will incorporate a larger final thesis or other independent work that allows for specialization and closer contact with current research in the subject.
Interdisciplinary study programs must be rooted in an established interdisciplinary research, a clear academic profile and contain several interdisciplinary subjects so that they are clearly distinguishable from other programs. All programs should provide the opportunity to take elective courses from their own and other disciplines. Through an understanding of additional academic traditions the boundaries, applicability and uses of the disciplines will become clearer.
The Student Parliament believes grade point average alone is not a sufficient basis for assessing students' qualifications and believes several subjects at the university should adopt other relevant academic assessments for admission.
2.4 Teaching Aids
Student Parliament believes that the University must use available digital tools for teaching and make these available at UiOs web pages. At the same tile UiO should focus on actively including use of freely available knowledge in its teaching. Digital lectures, available in the form of podcasts, provide greater flexibility for students. Technical equipment and curriculum used for instruction must maintain a high standard and be updated. Mandatory purchase of textbooks must not occur. The most relevant and updated course materials should be used for syllabi, regardless of if they are in English or Norwegian.
2.5 The Learning Environment
A good learning environment means that the physical, psychosocial and organizational framework for education promotes rather than hinder students' learning. All students should at commencement receive a learning contract that clarifies expectations, rights and obligations between the student and the university.
Student Parliament believes there should be a section in the “Regulations for studies and exams at the University” about the learning environment including technical requirements for what constitutes a good learning environment in order to strengthen the students’ legal rights. LMU will actively and strategically work to ensure a good learning environment at the institution.
The need for 24/7 reading halls should be measure and the student parliament wants a pilot project for 24/7 reading halls to be introduced. The university library opening hours should be extended and it should be possible to check out books even if the librarians are not at work.
UiO must have funds for renovation and improvement of student facilities when it is needed. When development or restoration is carried out other facilities must be made available, so that capacity is not reduced. All facilities at the University shall meet the requirements of health and safety at all times. More exams should be moved to off-campus localities, so libraries and reading rooms are not occupied during the examination period.
All students should have a tutoring program that touches all aspects of student life. A proactive dissemination from the university is necessary in order to ensure the students know how they can get the help and information they need and know where to direct complaints. New students should be integrated into a reception apparatus at the University that addresses both academic and social needs.
3.0 Research, innovation and dissemination
A university is an institution of knowledge. New knowledge is discovered through research, communicated through teaching, are utilized through innovation and spread through dissemination. It is essential that these four tasks be handled in an integrated manner. The university must be aware of its role as knowledge provider, not only through research and education, but also as a reservoir of knowledge for the public. The student parliament also believes that the current system of counting publications as a basis for financing research does not accurately evaluate the whole spectrum of the work being done. The student parliament therefore must work with the University leadership to create a new model where broad dissemination is the basis.
UiO wants to be a leading European research university. Research and innovation are long-term investments in the community and will always entail a risk of not achieving the desired results. The system of funding research should therefore contribute to the stability and predictability for the institution rather than be governed by current political trends. The government must ensure that the Norwegian research efforts are increased to 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the long term and ensure that a larger chunk of the funding should be in the form of basic grants without earmarks. A growing part of the higher education sector is financed by temporary project funding. This should not preclude the hiring of researchers and academic staff in permanent positions as is often the case today.
Verifiable methods should be the basis for research and research ethics must be emphasized along with professional quality when the research projects are considered. To ensure a high degree of transparency, a list of the organizations and companies providing funding for research projects at the university should made available via an online overview of the University's website.
In a world of increasingly scarce resources, we need to use our resources in new and smarter ways. Through innovation new research is translated into utility for society.
As the main focus at UiO is on basic research it is important that knowledge flows freely between the university and the society is a part of. In order for this knowledge to be available to all, research should increasingly be published in Open Access publications. Innovation is about putting good ideas into practice. It is therefore important for the University to cooperate with other societal institutions and in order to facilitate innovation.
Innovation and idea development should be an integral part of teaching at the University, and students with good ideas should receive the help they might need in putting these into practice.
The use of free software and open standards makes innovation broadly accessible and strengthens digital freedom. There are political aspects to choosing proprietary software, and UiO should not commit itself to proprietary software and licensing agreements.
Dissemination is an important part of the university’s duties to society. Dissemination makes new knowledge available outside academia. The funding system for higher education sector must incentivize increased and better dissemination. UiO must increasingly take its responsibility for outreach seriously by actively encouraging staff and students to both communicate their subject through channels other than traditional publishing research, and by participating in the public debate. Museums play an important role in the work as natural bridge between academia and the community, and must be secured financial frameworks that allow for necessary renovation. It is particularly important that the system be aimed at children and young people, and the primary and secondary schools must therefore be important partners.
4.0 The University's responsibility
Climate and environment are todays greatest challenges. Universities and Univesity colleges have a responsibility to find solutions that reduce emissions and maintain biodiversity. Furthermore, these institutions must contribute to creating an economy based on renewable sources of energy. To achieve this it is essential that the citizenry be educated and aware of the problem and that research and innovation are prioritized. The university has unique opportunities as the country's largest research and educational institution, but also a special responsibility to contribute to building a sustainable future. The university must take responsibility in meeting the environmental and climate challenges through research and educational programs related to the environment and a sustainable economy. Research on green, environmentally friendly and sustainable solutions should always be prioritized over research that contributes to increased oil production, and UiO must lead the way in permanently phasing out petroleum research. The student parliament acknowledges that such a process must happen gradually but the ultimate goal must be the complete dissolution of our societys oil dependency. The University must follow up its ambitious climate goals by implementing specific measures, but also have a long-term vision of becoming a green university. UiO investments must follow ethical guidelines that emphasize environmental and human rights concerns.
University will contribute to equality by providing free education to all, regardless of social background, gender, ethnicity and nationality. Equality is not just about equal opportunities, but also about creating a university that reflects the diversity of the community. The university must ensure that the facilitation be offered and made available to all students that need it in order to ensure a university that is truly open to all individuals.
The university is responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities and learning disabilities know their rights and where to turn to get facilitated studies. Students with permanent need for facilitation on exams should only need to apply for this once, and university facilities must be easily accessible for people with disabilities.
Student Parliament believes that gender balance should be sought in all forums, as this contributes to improving the learning and working environment. Chauvinism and sexual harassment should be actively combated, and be struck down on where it occurs. It must be made more attractive to choose academia as a career for women. Temporary positions after completed Ph.D are an obstacle to equality. The university must prioritize permanent employment, as this provides predictability and security of working conditions. Where it becomes apparent that one of the sexes are systematically underestimated in terms of competence a radical gender quota policy should be introduced. Otherwise the rule must be that moderate gender quotas can be used when gender equality is not achieved by other means.
It is a challenge that there are great gender inequalities in some studies at the University. To meet society's future needs and ensure a representative student body gender points should be introduced on studies where one sex is represented over time by less than 25 percent. This must be coupled with other measures to broden the recruiting base to the university.
The university must accommodate all candidates, regardless of language. Norway has two official language forms and UiO must continue the work to protect these. This means that the university must ensure that all students have access to academic material and can take their exams in their own language form.
As Norway's largest university, it is natural that the University is visible outside the country. The University must be part of the vibrant international exchange of knowledge. This is achieved through international cooperation agreements that facilitate research collaboration and mobility amongst both students and researchers.
UiO and Norway in general has a duty to contribute to lessen the academic resource gap between developed and less developed countries. Through the free dissemination of knowledge through Open Access publication we contribute to an equality of knowledge amongst nations.
Student Parliament supports students in the fight against violent and discriminatory regimes. The system of letting students who have been expelled due to political activity finish their degrees in Norway is an important program in the fight for democracy and must be strengthened.
University shall fight for freedom of speech and academic freedom in the international arena, and to influence our partners to that effect wherever possible. The University will continue to take part in the work of Scholars at Risk (SAR).
5.2 Internationalization at home
The university of Oslo should have a vibrant international environment, also on its own campus. To reach this goal, we need well-organized international cooperation and offer a broad range of topics in other languages than Norwegian and fully English study programs. The financing of the higher education sector must facilitate the internationalization at the University abroad as well as at home.
Student Parliament will under no circumstances accept any introduction in any form of tuition fees for international students. High quality and affordable housing for international students is important to ensure that the University is accessible and attractive to students from all over the world. The housing guaranty for international students must be maintained. It is also important that all international students are offered free Norwegian lessons during their stay in Oslo. If this can not be accomplished then this must be clearly stated in informational material presented to applicants. A truly international university requires an international student environment. Steps must be taken to ensure that international and Norwegian students more closely integrated. Both national and international students should have access to to the same information and participate in the same activities. Therefore all information on UiOs webpages should be published in both Norwegian and English.
Science is by nature international. In order to ensure high quality in the research carried out at UiO it is essential that the university participate actively in the international research environment. The university must facilitate international mobility also for researchers. The university must also offer good Norwegian language courses for all international academic staff. New academic positions should be advertised internationally.
5.3 Internationalisation abroad
Studies abroad provides new perspectives, new social and academic impulses, and promotes cultural diversity and respect. This is positive for the individual student, the university and the community as a whole.
The university should therefore simplify the application processes associated with student exchange and simplify the process for approval of courses taken abroad. The University must reach its goal of 20% exchange rate by 2020 to achieve a more holistic international perspective, UiO will establish several integrated study programs in cooperation with relevant institutions in other countries.
An international perspective is also important for researchers. The University will continue both to encourage and facilitate the academic staff to spend time at foreign institutions.
Anyone who wishes to study at UiO should have the same opportunities to do so. To realize the principle of equal rights to education we are relieant on a welfare system that is facilitated for the broad plurality that constitutes the student body.
Students' basic welfare needs must be met in areas such as economic support, housing, day care, health and recreational activities. Welfare offers should be flexible and adapted to students' different preconditions and needs. Student welfare programs should be a supplement to the regular municipal and state welfare provision, and not a replacement.
Samskipnaden in Oslo and Akershus are responsible for providing the welfare programs to the students at the university. Students pay for their welfare through the semester fee and the Welfare Organisation (VT) must provide the most welfare for those funds. The university shall make available unused buildings and localities to the VT so the welfare programs can be cheaply available on campus.
The studnts have not shared in the growing economic prosperity and housing and food prices have risen sharply. Public authorities must take more responsibility for ensuring students' welfare and thus real equal access to education by funding and facilitating the construction of more student housing. Furthermore, the study loans and stipend must be able to cover housing and living costs, and must therefore follow developments in National Insurance.