University of Agder (Norway) UiA introduces unified management at faculty level

New governance model at the faculties and the Teacher Education Unit

Following the decision on the governance model at an institutional level in September (elected rector and two-tier management), the University Board was presented with the question of what the governance model at a faculty level should be going forward.

The university director presented the advantages and disadvantages of the current governance model (two-tier management with a dean and a faculty director) and the proposed unified management structure (the dean as the overall leader of the faculty). The university director concluded by proposing to keep the current model with two-tier management, among other things to ensure that the deans have the time and opportunity to carry out important strategic academic management.

Rector Whittaker presented the proposal to introduce unified management at the faculties, to ensure that the deans have a greater overall responsibility for the faculties’ strategic development, including financial responsibility. Overall responsibility was highlighted as particularly important in the face of tighter funding and stricter prioritising in the future.

External board member Tom Fidjeland proposed to postpone the decision, as the faculties and departments were only partially consulted on the matter related to the question of the governance model at an institutional level. The matter was nevertheless discussed with the union representatives, and the Norwegian Association of Researchers/Unio and Tekna/the Federation of Norwegian Professional Associations submitted their arguments in support of a continued two-tier management at the faculties, in writing to the Board. The postponement proposal was voted down by 7 votes to 4.

Many points were thoroughly discussed, including how important it is to focus on core tasks in times of recession, role clarification and room for exercising strategic academic management. Unified management was adopted by a vote of 10 to 1. It was also decided by a 10 to 1 vote that the dean should be appointed, not elected. The fact that the deans will have overall responsibility for the administrative running of the faculty as well, will entail changes in the qualification requirements for the role of dean.

Today, the deans serve as chairs of the respective faculty boards. As a result of the unified governance model, the University Board decided 7 to 4 that the chair, in future, should be an external member appointed by the University Board.

The university is now entering a transition period under the basic collective agreement, as the faculty directors’ roles will be changed. Under the new model, the faculty directors will report to the deans, and the deans will report to both the rector and the university director, depending on the issue. Further work will be done on the practical consequences of the changes.

The plan is for the unified management to be introduced when the deans’ next term of office begins on 1 January 2024. Where the dean’s term of office starts at a different time, a closer look will be taken as to how this is to be resolved.


Other items at the meeting included:

  • The 2023 plan and budget were approved
  • Dialogue with Kristiansand municipality, represented by Mayor Jan Oddvar Skisland, Municipal Director Camilla Dunsæd and Director of Interaction and Innovation Bernt Jørgen Stray
  • A change to the regulations relating to study programmes and examinations was adopted
  • A new member of UiA’s Suitability Review Committee was appointed
  • The board was briefed on UiA’s work on commercialisation and innovation
  • A new member was appointed to the board committee for assessing the wages of the rector and the university director in accordance with the basic collective agreement

All agenda documents for the meeting (Norwegian only)