Hetta skjalið er eitt yvirlit yvir spurningarnar, ið vóru settir lestrarpanelunum, og svarunum hjá MFS til teir spurningarnar. Eisini eru tey serliga áhugaðverdu svarini frá øðrum lestrarfelagsskapum drigin fram. Skjalið er á enskum, tí arbeiðsmálið í Norðurlendska Ráðharraráðnum er enskt.
Ráðstevnan er ein árligur fundur millum norðurlendsku ráðharrarnar innan útbúgving, og øðrum viðkomandi fólki. Hetta er m.a. lestrarumboð, starvsfólk á útbúgvingarstovnum, granskarar, og onnur starvsfólk innan politisku skipanina. Stóru temaini í ár vóru digitalisering av hægri útbúgving og mismunur á kynunum innan útbúgvingarskipanina. Ein av heilt stóru broytingunum var, at í ár blivu lestrarfeløgini biðin um at viðmerkja spurningarnar, við støði í teirra útbúgvingarlandi.
Vit hoyra sera fegin viðmerkingar frá føroyskum lesandi, til spurningarnar, ið vóru settir á ráðstevnuni.
What would you say is THE greatest challenge for higher education right now?
Lack of quality assurance (QA). Students at Setrið (University of Faroe Islands) are worried that an Bachelor (BA) there might not be the same as BAs at other universities, since there is no official internal QA. Not about the contents of the courses, but about whether a diploma from Setrið will be recognised, when applying for jobs or further studies abroad. We need to get QA, on ESG level, in order to verify the quality of an education from Setrið.
Currently we’ve had one external QA, where the main focus has been the structure at Setrið. This means that there’s a lack of QA in the courses and specific faculties, the internal QA, making Setrið almost working in the dark - with no real measure of the quality, and being unable to compare to ENQA-member countries.
Iceland responded, that they need to create an education policy - in order to get an aim in their progress. We have to know where we’re going, and what we have to do to get there.
Norway responded, that one of their wishes, is to tie the student grants to inflation. Education should be a way out of poverty, and thus a classless system, where the resources of parents should not be a determining factor of whether to apply to higher education.
Denmark: Education is deeply underfunded. The lack of funding adds pressure to the educational system, and we lose sight of the role of higher education. What do we want to achieve?
Having reduced the education gap means that more students are getting higher educations. This also means that the interests in higher education are increased, and a lot of different actors want to affect what education should be. Companies want to create the students in their image, and shape them to their needs. But we must not forget a broad basis education, with the possibility to specialise.
Comment from MFS to the issues raised by Jona from NSO: A recent Faroese survey showed, that the main reason for dropouts at the University of the Faroe Islands, is that the students can’t make ends meet economically. Furthermore, 60% of students have to work while studying.
The issue is prominent enough, that the issue persists despite 90% of students thriving at the university.
In the student organizations that you represent, what are the most pressing issues looking ahead? What are you trying to convey to those in charge?
MFS is working to better the conditions for Faroese students. Lately, our main focus has been to establish and protect the economic stability of students, and trying to eliminate the need to work while studying, in order to be able to uphold decent living. 14% of students, who’ve considered quitting their studies, report that it’s because they can’t make ends meet financially.
Our next focus will be to explore the challenges in microstates with establishing QA. One factor is the lack of people with knowledge regarding QA in the Faroe Islands. The other factor is having to outsource the QA-process, in order make sure there’s no question as to whether the assessing parties have been neutral.
Higher education is expected to solve everything from integration and equal opportunity to innovation and climate change. Is the system delivering on its promises, or do you see signs of overreach?
Higher education (HE) is not enough prioritized in the political system. Faroe Islands don’t seem to value education and research enough. There is stable but slow progress, but the progress seems to be without a specific aim - because the lack of QA, all the efforts seem aimless. This lack of priority is also seen on the finance law. There has been a growth of students in higher education, and therefore a larger demand for funding. Despite the positive change in the HE area, the government still decided to lower the funding.
The climate changes are a natural part of the energy innovation in the Faroe Islands. The good will towards the green energy can be can be factored by the education in this field from the Faroese university. There seems to be an indication that HE is encouraging a green profile in the Faroese energy sector and making a positive tribute to the climate changes.
Viðmerking: Broadening access to HE, means you get the best possible people to work on these issues - men tað krevur funding! You get what you pay for.
You are the first Smartphone and Facebook generation, for whom all these gadgets and apps has been a given. How would you say our universities are keeping up with the development in media technology?
Submissions and communications are done online. The Faroe Islands are in a special situation - the age of the average university student in the Faroes is very high, and thus many are NOT part of the “first Smartphone and Facebook generation” because of a high average age (30 years in average).
According to a questionnaire, 75% of university students are pleased with the educators use of Moodle witch is a internet communication platform. Even though there is a high satisfaction towards Moodle, the university uses 3 different platforms to communicate with the students. The overall evaluation towards the media used in the university is 10% satisfaction. Therefore there is a high demand of a better use of media and technology in the Faroe Islands. One way to achieve better and more efficient use of media in education, is by having courses for educators and students in the different platforms, and on how to use the tools available proficiently.
When you compare your own use of media technology – for entertainment, research, socializing – do you feel that there is a gap compared to its use in higher education?
92% of students don’t use video and internet in their studies. This shows a definite gap in media technology use compared to the use in higher education. It might implicate that the systems used by Setrið aren’t intuitive and user friendly, and might serve to confuse, rather than inform.
84% of students don’t feel content with the use of internet/video at Setri, confirming that the way technology is used, discourages students from applying it, rather than lack of will from students to apply technological tools.
Is there a risk that we get too carried away, dazzled by new technology, and forget the basic purpose of education, to share inherited knowledge and transcend time?
64% of students agree, that learning by technology yields same outcomes as old-fashioned teaching. 29% disagree. This means that a big part of students are sceptical of technological overuse. “Technology is a filter - you’re there, but not really.”
Digitalisation is a good initiative, in the way that it is one of many tools to lessen the distance between educators and students. But it should seen as such - a tool and not a solution. We shouldn’t be blinded by digitalisation, and let it take precedence over other issues - like underfunding.
On the basic level of higher education, around 60 percent of students are now female. What do you make of that gender gap? How can our universities improve on equality and inclusion, considering the wake-up call from MeToo?
71% of students at the university of Faroe Islands are female. (According to questionnaire, where 341/742 students answered.) There’s a lot of focus on boys falling through on gymnasial level, but none as far as we know, on university level.
On a MeToo note, when asked it the students have experienced sexual harrasments, 0% answered yes, and 2% answered they weren’t sure. When asked about psychological harassment, 4% answered yes. It’s important to note, that these stats are not concurrent with findings in our neighbouring countries, and that the reason might be, that the questionnaire asks a yes/no question. According to other findings, if you ask more specifically about different forms of harassment, the results will be less positive.
A crucial goal in this perspective, regardless of positive questionnaire results, is that if an individual feels harassed, the reporting process should be easy and not harmful to the student. A student representative, a legal professional working for the interests of individual students, would be a great start in this respect.
It’s worth noting, that despite 70% of students being female, University of the Faroe Islands has 9 professors, of which only 2 are female, 14 lectors, of which 1 is female, and 12 adjunkter, of which 3 are female. Thus only 6/35 academic staff are female. (2013)
What about stress and mental health?
The stress level for the students in the Faroe Islands is low. 7% of students experience stress all the time, while 64% of students experience stress not and then, 29% do not know or do not experience stress. The questionnaire also reveals that is difficult for the students to get to re exams. This might be one reason for a high stress level leading up to the exam, and therefore increase the number of students who experience stress now and then.
Do you and your members and friends have faith in opportunities for lifelong learning, or is there a sense of pressure here and now?
Students at Setrið don’t feel pressured to rush their studies. It’s very normal to have maternity/paternity leaves during the course of the studies. People don’t feel pressured to go directly from gymnasium to university.
The university of the Faroe Islands offers a wide variety of diploma educations. The courses vary, and cost is about 200 dkk per ECTS or 5000 DKK. Participation seems to be good.
On the other hand, there’s a very big difference in drop out rates between the different faculties. As there are very few statistics about Faroese students, it’s hard to say anything specific about why this is - but in the questionnaire, the two main reasons, equal in weight, were financial difficulties and questioning the choice of education.
One issue is with the student grant. The funds you get when studying in the Faroe Islands don’t affect the “SU klip” in the Danish grant - which faroese abroad are qualified for. However, when you get funds from the Danish grant, you lose “klip” in the Faroese grant. This might discourage dropouts to get a degree later in life, as it’s a very big expense for the students. The inequality of students, with those getting SU gradually losing their opportunity to get an education in the Faroe Islands, while the opportunities abroad are unaffected for those receiving from the Studni grant. Seeing as the two grants are completely separate, there is no good reason for Studni to take SU into account when giving grants to students.