Linnaeus Union's main task is to work with educational issues, something that tends to fall into obscurity. Therefore, we have made a small compilation of some of the most important issues we have worked on during this year.
Quality of education
The most basic thing we do is to work to promote the quality of education at Linnaeus University. Giving a quick overview is not always easy. But during the year, there has been a discussion about the review models the university has where they have discussed a possible revision of Treklövern (LNU's system for ensuring the quality of education), internal checklists in creating a quality culture, and the Swedish Higher Education Authority's (UKÄ) evaluations of how Linnaeus University ensures the quality of education. Some student submissions have been written, both for UKÄ's evaluations but also for the university's education dialogues during both autumn and spring.
Communication is another important aspect of quality that we at the student union have worked with on different levels. This is why we have created information films about what the union does, highlighted the need for translation on LNU's website and participated in various forums such as the Yellow Thread (Gula tråden), the doctoral supervisor education, and the qualifying higher education pedagogical education, where we have brought up the student perspective. At this year's quality conference, one of the union's Responsible for educational matters also spoke about our views on quality work and the future.
For Linnaeus Union, an issue that is always discussed and worked on is student representation. This year, there has been a lot of work with student representation in the form of a revision of the university's local rules where the union has participated in the preparation. Questions regarding remuneration have also been initiated, but will continue to be discussed next year. In Linnaeus Union's internal work, we have worked with questions regarding student safety representatives, updating our handbook for student representatives, and programme councils. We have also held trainings for our student representatives where the first training for English-speaking students was held during the spring semester.
Related to PhD students
The PhD students' dual roles as both employee (usually) and student mean that the regulations regarding, for example, work environment and influence differ from those that apply to ordinary students. During this year, Linnaeus Union looked at issues concerning remuneration to doctoral student representatives, their opportunities to influence their work environment and how they perceive that the university's compliance with regulations works. We regularly participate in the higher education pedagogical education for teaching staff and occasionally also in the doctoral supervisor education.
The physical and mental state of students, and especially doctoral students, has been a very high priority issue in recent years. Linnaeus Union has taken a stand on, influenced and informed about what we have seen as reasonable trade-offs between “protection” and “activities” in distance studies, campus teaching and not least in examinations. At the same time, we have worked with more general issues concerning the physical and organisational study environment and also gotten several new student safety representatives in both Kalmar and Växjö. In autumn, a working group will start with the aim of actively working the students' working environment into the university's Working environment committee's work. The working group will have representatives from the student and PhD ombudspersons and the Student Welfare Office.
While Linnaeus Union generally works a lot with the university and its faculties, another important part of our work is our relationship and the support we can give to our education associations. We have therefore worked with creating supporting documents for the education associations to support their opportunities for student influence. Education committees have been held with the associations where important educational issues have been raised. During the year, weighted semesters were discussed, where the committee meeting's discussion resulted in the opinion that they do not ensure recovery or course quality over Christmas. Here, we believe that a national solution is needed and therefore the issue has been raised by the Swedish United Student Unions at this year's council.
The pandemic led to changed forms of examination, which created problems for both teachers and students. The number of disciplinary cases increased avalanche-like, and during the past year the student union has put a lot of time and energy into helping students who have been accused of cheating, plagiarism and unauthorized cooperation. The reports have now dropped back to more normal (unfortunately too high) levels, but we still have a close dialogue with the university regarding cheating. Sufficient clarity about the individual student's responsibilities in group work is at risk becoming a future challenge!