Student on scouting trip with management
Today, student representation on the boards and committees of Linköping University is commonplace. Oskar Lyding is on the Vice-Chancellor’s management board and accompanied the University Management on its scouting trip a couple of weeks ago. And the trip yielded several good ideas.
Oskar Lyding is chairman of Consensus. In June he will complete his last working day before resuming his medical studies. As Consensus chairman, he also has a place on the Vice-Chancellor’s management board.
“By being on the Vice Chancellor’s management board I have seen and learned about the structure behind-the-scenes, which opened up a whole new world for me. I have learned how to have an influence and I have developed in leaps and bounds during this period.”
Oskar compares the Faculty of Health Sciences (HU) of today with how it was ten years ago. In some old newspaper cuttings we see how students demonstrated, complete with signs and slogans, against the faculty’s plans to make cutbacks to the library on HU Campus US.
“We don’t have to resort to those kinds of tactics anymore; it is one of the benefits of the more informal contacts we now have.”
Once a year, the University Management goes on a trip. This year it was to the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to see how their universities handle the concept of the modern education environment. It was a scouting trip in preparation for the Pedagogical Leap that LiU is about to make.
Oskar, who was invited along on the trip, had the chance to visit Glasgow Caledonian University and Glasgow Strathclyde University, two universities who do not have the academic traditions as the older, more renowned universities in the UK.
“This is why they have pulled out all the stops to engage the students,” he says. “When they found out I was going on the trip they invited a student representative for me to talk to.”
At the Caledonian, Oskar was particularly impressed by the multi-storey student building with its library and several solutions for reading areas. On the top floor he found a number of reading areas for private studies, where a strict silence rule is in force. On the lower floors there were group rooms that students can book. The university has also brought together all the information and student services into one place in the building, a kind of converging point. This is something that Oskar thinks would be worth trying at Linköping University.
“When I returned home, I saw our library on Campus US (Faculty of Health Sciences library, HUB) in a new light. It was then I realised the potential for making some major improvements with relatively limited resources. I have found out, for example, that 90 % of questions to HUB’s librarians are mostly about technical issues and not literature-related.”
At Strathclyde, Oskar saw student environments that could serve as inspiration for LiU, including screened-off group rooms and reading areas; some with computer screens, some without.
“LiU has group rooms too, but many students perceive them as being too cage-like and they are usually fully booked. Students frequently end up having to book large lecture theatres so that small groups have somewhere to study. It’s not a very efficient way to utilise the premises.”
And while it is easy to get carried away by new, immaculate design solutions, Oskar believes it is important for Linköping University to have a strategy for improving its campus areas, to take one step at a time and not just pander to trends.
“New, flashy rooms have no intrinsic value; they should be functional and play their part in the Pedagogical Leap.”
For Oskar, campus premises are vitally important. And not just during times when they are used for classes. A conducive room is one that creates a good atmosphere and instils a sense of well-being, which is good for the learning process.
“Despite IT technology making it simpler for people to communicate while staying at home, students are going against the flow and are spending more time together on campus with other students. This is why it is vital that we look at all the buildings, not just those that are being rebuilt from scratch.”
Oskar also argues that LiU should, in preparation for the Pedagogical Leap, create support channels for teachers. Teachers should, after all, feel inspired about making ‘the leap’.
“After the trip, we concluded that we may be entering a paradigm shift. We are seeing a change from ‘teaching to learning’, which may entail a period of major adjustment for some teachers.”
“In Scotland we saw a form of pedagogical and technical support geared not only to showing people how to plug in a projector, but which also provided pedagogical support. This was something we took home with us from our trip.”
But do you really think that the University Management cares about what a 23 year-old medical student knows and thinks? Isn’t it easy just to become a rubber stamp?
“It’s brilliant because they do actually listen, despite most of them being 30 years older than me. I have discovered a genuine interest in student representation among the most senior management and all the way down. They realise the value of student participation.”
“I doubt whether many people at LiU know as much as we student representatives do,” he continues. “It’s going to feel strange when I graduate and will no longer be so well-informed about what goes on at the university.”
Last updated: 2013-05-03