Opera-loving speed reader with a flair for education
Berit Eika has spent 18 years working in the field of education and she is looking forward to working with students and teachers. On the other hand, she is not so thrilled about the study progress reform, she understands the students' concern about the reform and she knows one of her first tasks will be to mitigate the worst effects of the new policy.
Why does AU need a pro-rector for education?
"Because it sends a very strong signal. As an educator for the past 18 years I think it’s fantastic that we are so consciously focusing on education. But it shouldn't just be on an overall strategic level. The starting point must be good research-based teaching based on academic knowledge, commitment from both the lecturer and students, the inclusion of educational theory and qualifications.
Right now there is plenty of focus on inclusion at AU, and I have a concrete role here in making sure that employees and students are included. The first to notice this will be the directors and boards of studies because, as one of my first actions, I will be entering into a dialogue with them."
We know your counterpart at the University of Copenhagen is Lykke Friis. Have you looked to her as inspiration for the dos and don’ts of your new role?
“Our profiles are different. I see her as a skilled pro-rector who is good at setting the political agenda and I’m looking forward to working with her."
Are you the students’ rector – someone for them to go to with their ideas and criticism?
"No, I’m not only the students' pro-rector. Good education and teaching take place in an interaction between students and teachers, and it’s about creating synergies between research and education. Plus, our rector is also very engaged in education himself. But I will, of course, be in close contact with both the boards of studies and the directors of studies, so I can help the students be heard."
Which tasks are you looking forward to most – and which tasks are you approaching with a certain respect?
"I generally approach all new tasks with humility and respect. But I’m really looking forward to involving the students and the teachers in the work of creating research-based, high-quality study programmes. I regret that the study progress reform has been adopted. But now it’s a reality and I see my task as a combination of mitigating its negative effects while at the same time trying to get something positive out of it. I completely understand the students' misgivings about the reform, such as not having the chance to invest time and energy in creating a good study environment in future by getting involved in the boards of study, the Regatta, Friday bars etc.
Also, I’d like to see how we can develop Blackboard as a supplement to classroom instruction, where students can supplement their preparation time with tests and online courses so that they’re able to participate in class at a higher level than they do today."
Translated by Peter Lambourne