E-mail sent to Rector Pallage regarding the proposal on ROI

Monsieur le Recteur,

L’APUL a tenu aujourd’hui son assemblée générale. Dans ce cadre, la question de la nouvelle version du Règlement d’Ordre Intérieur a été évoquée. Les membres de l’APUL ont exprimé leur surprise relativement à l’opacité de la procédure entourant son adoption. Il semblerait en effet qu’un certain nombre de points fondamentaux touchant le fonctionnement des facultés aient fait l’objet de modifications substantielles inconnues des collègues consultés lors de l’élaboration du nouveau ROI. Il s’agirait notamment de dispositions relatives au fonctionnement des conseils facultaires ainsi qu’à la nomination des doyens et des directeurs de départements.

Au regard précisément de l’opacité entourant la mise en place du nouveau ROI, l’APUL ne peut exprimer que regret et désapprobation. En effet, la communauté des collègues aurait souhaité être associée d’une façon ou d’une autre à la réflexion entourant ces changements. Au sein d’une Université qui a souffert d’un manque évident de transparence dans la gestion des questions intéressant, entre autres, le corps professoral, la présentation d’une nouvelle version du ROI au Conseil Universitaire dans un laps de temps aussi réduit et selon un procédé aussi opaque ne peut que conduire à s’interroger sur les motivations d’un tel procédé.

Si, comme l’APUL croit l’avoir compris au regard des informations qui ont pu lui parvenir s’agissant de cette nouvelle version – dont la vérification concrète ne peut être faite précisément en raison du caractère regrettablement opaque de la procédure–, les modifications apportées à certaines questions sont importantes – l’annonce aujourd’hui (5 juillet) de la mise en place d’une nouvelle procédure pour le recrutement du prochain Doyen de la FSTC  le laisse clairement à penser –, une consultation et une information de la communauté des Professeurs expliquant les raisons de ces modifications auraient dû avoir lieu.

Une telle information était d’autant plus nécessaire que, dans peu de temps, aura lieu l’élection des membres du Conseil Universitaire pour laquelle la Communauté des Professeurs va devoir se mobiliser.

Pour toute les raisons invoquées précédemment, le souhait d’un report de l’adoption du nouveau ROI, que le Conseil universitaire examinera demain, a été unanimement exprimé lors de l’assemblée générale de l’APUL afin qu’une discussion transparente et démocratique soit assurée avant l’adoption de ce texte. L’APUL souhaiterait en outre obtenir des garanties quant la possibilité de modifier ultérieurement les dispositions du ROI dont la pertinence serait remise en cause tant par la communauté universitaire que par la pratique.

Les membres de l’APUL restent naturellement à votre disposition pour toute information complémentaire que vous pourriez souhaiter et vous prie de recevoir, Monsieur le recteur, l’expression de leurs salutations distinguées.

Pour l’APUL, sa présidente,

Elise Poillot

 

 

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Minutes of the EGM with Rector Pallage

Thursday, 26th of April 2018, Campus Belval, Blackbox 

30 colleagues present; 15 excused.

The Meeting starts at 18:00

APUl welcomes Rector Pallage who adresses brielfly the audience and thanks APUL for the invitation.

The discussion starts immediately.

  • The new law on the University:

Rector Pallage emphasized that it is a good law, and that we can work with it. He sees it as an improvement of the system and thinks that there is still room for democracy. He reminds the assembly that the Board of Governors (Conseil de Gouvernance) will change substantially by growing from 7 members from outside to 13 with substantial representation of the community: a student will be there as a voting member, the representative will now be a voting member, and two more members will be proposed from the professors of the university. The new university council has a lot of power, but like in the past it can be overruled. Asked more specifically on this issue and on whether he would be ready to do it, Rector Pallage answered that it could well happen: “We will disagree, that will happen but most of the time we will find a consensus”.

The same approach was taken with regard to the elections of Dean. In the new law, Deans are appointed and not elected. According to the government, nothing has changed since it does not mean that Deans cannot be elected. But as they have to be appointed by the Rector, a refusal by the Rector is legally possible. When asked if that could happen, Rector Pallage answered that such a scenario would put the academic community (Rector included) in a difficult position. He however made clear that he cannot promise this would not happen.

A discussion on transparency, communication and research then engaged.

  1. a) On transparency, communication, Rector Pallage took the view that no teamwork is possible if you don’t exchange with the community. SP has the ambition to make this university more transparent, though dialogue and transparency are often not easy to apply. E.g. having town hall meetings to listen to the members of the university and answer their questions.
  2. b) On research: We are living in a country that defined us as teaching, research and service. We can’t work in our ivory tower without connecting to the population/industry. We don’t have to work for them, but our teaching should not be disconnected from them. According to Rector Pallage, the third mission of university is an important one. We should do research that could be useful to the society. Stéphane Pallage however conceded that doing research outside research priorities is not easy but that there was still room to do it. He also stressed that priorities can be changed in the future.
  • Career tracks and pension schemes

Several APUL members explained their frustration about the lack of a career track. Rector Pallage acknowledged that the current system is terrible, and explained how the new law offers the possibility for promotion to different levels, though there will always be quota.

  1. Promotions:

Access to promotions is an important issue and the central services are currently working on a draft for these procedures. The new promotion system will be based on an evaluation, on research, teaching and possibly another dimension (community service could be taken into account as it is the case in the US and Quebec). People will be evaluated on a series of dimensions. Rector Pallage strongly believes than the new system is better than the previous system. The reality however is that we should live for a while and then see what future possible amendments could be.

Several APUL members expressed their concerns that the new law could lead to be moved from associate to assistant professors. SP emphasized that this is based on a misunderstanding or miscommunication: everyone with the current rank of associate professor (in English) will remain associate professor.

As for tenure tracks, the system will be similar to that existing in the US. People will be hired under “contrats à durée déterminée” with midterm evaluations.

  1. Senior Professors:

With regard to Senior Professors and the lack of clarity of such status, Rector Pallage was not informed on the existing problems and promised he will tackle them.

  1. Pension schemes for professors and permanent academic staff:

Rector Pallage confirmed that there is an additional pension scheme for the rector, vice-rectors, Interdisciplinary Center heads. According to the Rector, a small percentage of their salaries is invested in a fund to which you are eligible after leaving your function.

The Rectorate is open to discussions on pension schemes for others.

APUL invites Rector Pallage on more clarity as to the pension schemes existing at the rectorate level.

The rector was also asked about the Resaver plan, a pan-European pension plan enabling individuals to remain with the same pension arrangement when moving between different countries and employers. The new employer must be a member of the Resaver Plan.

Stéphane Pallage informs the assembly that Ludwig Neyses took part in some discussions in Brussel. Yet the University is still not part of the scheme. APUL encourages the Rector to follow up on that possibility.

  • The importance of combination of research and teaching for the University prestige
  1. Teaching loads:

The University of Luxembourg is presented as a research university. APUL reminded the Rector that there is however no research without teaching. Teaching is also a mean to make progress in research and to disseminate research result outcomes.

Rector Pallage agrees with that statement and acknowledges that inequality in teaching is an issue. In his view, the law will force everyone to teach. That is a fact. Besides, evaluation will be based on research, teaching and community service. Teaching will clearly be part of the role of everyone.

  1. Teaching standards:

Concerning teaching standards, APUL observes that there is a clear problem about teaching loads, different contracts, some colleagues teach very few hours. Different standards apply from one faculty to another, from interdisciplinary center to another.

Stéphane Pallage points out that traditions are already very strong at this university and that they may differ among faculties and interdisciplinary centers. One must be realistic. It is going to be difficult to satisfy everyone. Rector Pallage suggested that the university council probably would be the right place to discuss a better model for teaching.

During this dialogue, Rector Pallage was also asked to present his views on decentralization of powers and the functioning of the central administration.

On decentralization, Stéphane Pallage admitted that the central administration often has a hard time knowing that there is a balance between autonomy of a unit as well as the importance of centralizing the treatment of some issues. This is particularly the case with regard to communication and legal offices. A central management of such subject matters would certainly be better. To some extent, decentralization went too far.

With regard to the functioning of the central administration, Rector Pallage mentioned the need for standard forms and a coherent approach. According to him, some services should have a client-oriented approach. Some concerns were also expressed by APUL members concerning proof of payments. In this field, it looks like we moved from a lack of control to an excess of control.  A discussion took place on how the system could be improved (some members suggesting a computerized approach. Here again Rector Pallage admitted that there is still room for improvement and that it also means a change of culture.

The discussion ends at 20:00. APUL thanks Rector Pallage for the discussion. It is agreed that such a dialogue with the Rector could be repeated every year.

End of meeting: 20:00

Minutes by L. Van der Torre & E. Poillot

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Extraordinary Meeting with Rector St. Pallage, April 26, 18:00

Dear APUL members, dear colleagues,

I am glad to announce that the extraordinary meeting with Rector Stéphane Pallage will take place on the 26th of April at 6 pm on the Belval campus (room to be determined).

Stéphane Pallage was not available on the proposed dates which is the reason why the meeting will take place later than what was initiallyplanned. Rector Pallage made himself available for a two hours meeting. I would like to thank him for accepting our invitation.

With my best regards,

Elise Poillot
APUL Chair

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Discussion du projet de loi sur l’Université

Luxembourg, 3rd of January 2017,

Dear APUL members, dear colleagues,

I wish you all the best in coming 2018 year! May you achieve all that you wish and more. This year was not easy for all of us but I feel very grateful for your support especially with regard to the draft bill on the university. I hope that we will continue to stand together in support of each other, harnessing on our individual strengths in facing challenges ahead.

This academic year will see the taking of office of a new rector, Prof. Stéphane Pallage. APUL warmly welcomes him and will arrange an extraordinary meeting with him. As you may remember, I asked the APUL board members to contact you to collect your views and thoughts in order to send him a welcome letter expressing our concerns and hopes related to the challenges our university is already facing and will be facing in the forthcoming years. Once I will have received their feedback, we will draft this welcome letter.

With regard to the challenges our university is facing, please be informed that the draft bill on the university is again being discussed today and tomorrow in front of the “Commission parlementaire de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche, des Médias, des Communications et de l’Espace”. I therefore sent a reminder of our concerns to Mrs Simone Beissel, Chair of the Committee as well as to all Chairs of parliamentary groups.
Here is the message that was addressed this morning to Mrs Beissel:

“Madame la Présidente, Madame la Député,

Tout d’abord, permettez-moi de vous souhaiter une très belle année 2018 et formuler tous mes vœux de bonheur et de paix pour vous et vos proches.

Aujourd’hui et demain, le projet de loi sur l’Université sera de nouveau discuté devant la Commission de l’Enseignement Supérieur, de la Recherche, des Médias, des Communications et de l’Espace que vous présidez.
Au nom de l’Association des Professeurs de l’Université du Luxembourg, je me permets d’attirer de nouveau votre attention sur le courrier que nous vous avions fait parvenir àce sujet le 6 décembre dernier et que vous voudrez bien trouver en fichier joint de ce courriel. L’adoption de cette loi est une étape cruciale pour le futur de l’Université du Luxembourg et la construction d’une culture académique au Luxembourg. Nous ne doutons pas que votre Commission saura entendre en ce début d’année les vœux de l’APUL dont la volonté est de promouvoir le développement de l’université en faisant en sorte que lui soient donnés les moyens de relever les défis qui l’attendent dans un contexte de démocratie interne, de promotion de l’excellence de la recherche et de l’enseignement et de service de l’intérêt général.

Je reste naturellement à votre disposition pour toute information complémentaire que vous pourriez souhaiter et vous prie de recevoir, Madame la Présidente, Madame la Député, l’expression de mes salutations respectueuses,

Elise Poillot
Présidente de l’Association des Professeurs de l’Université du Luxembourg“

To this message was attached the letter that was sent to Mrs Beissel and all chairs of parliamentary groups on the 6th of December 2017.

I will of course keep you informed on all developments regarding the law.

In the meanwhile, I would like once again to thank you for your support and wish you a wonderful year 2018 filled with happiness, joy and success.

With my warmest regards,

Elise Poillot
APUL Chair

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Letter to the Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education

Wednesday, 6 December 2017,  the Parliamentary Committee on Higher Education started to examine Bill n. 7132 on the new organization of the University of Luxembourg.

APUL is still concerned that – despite the amendments which have been announced by Minister Marc Hansen – the Bill might not take into account the various issues raised by APUL’s document.

Therefore a new letter, which also stresses the need to reconsider the internal promotion system, was sent to Mrs Simone Beissel, the Chair of the Committee as well as to the leaders of the various parliamentary groups.

Please find here the letter to Mrs Beissel.

Elise Poillot
Chair of APUL

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Towards a more democratic functioning of the University

On November 27 the Luxembourg Minister for Higher Education and Research, Mr. Marc Hansen, together with Mr Léon Diederich, Commissaire du Gouvernement, and Mrs Christiane Huberty, Conseiller, received a delegation from APUL composed by Raymond Bisdorff and myself. The meeting was planned after our press release was sent to the Minister and the Commissaire du Gouvernement. During this meeting a discussion on the main points raised by our position paper took place.

The press release issued today, 4th December 2017, by the Ministry of Higher Education (http://www.gouvernement.lu/7594131/04-hansen-unilu) shows that some of our concerns were taken into account since faculty councils will be mentioned by the law.

We welcome this move towards a more democratic functioning of the University and hope that the discussion that will now take place in Parliament will allow some progress with regards to some crucial points, such as the election of deans and the still limited role of the university council, which mainly remains an advisory body.

Elise Poillot
APUL Chair

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Soutien total du Conseil d’Etat au projet de réorganisation ministériel

L’avis du Conseil d’Etat concernant le projet de loi 7132 ayant pour objet la réorganisation de notre Université vient d’être publié le 28 novembre 2017.

Vous le trouverez à cette adresse:
http://conseil-etat.public.lu/fr/avis/2017/11/28112017/52205.html

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Gesellschaft mit beschränkter Hoffnung

« Die Apul hat … Recht, den „akademischen Kontext in Luxemburg“ debattieren zu wollen. Das Problem, um das es geht, ist nicht nur eines der gouvernance der Universität. … »

Leitartikel von Peter Feist im Lëtzebuerger Land vom 24.11.2017

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Concerns over the draft law on the organization of the University of Luxembourg

The Association of Professors of the University of Luxembourg (APUL), after meeting in extraordinary general assembly on 14 November 2017, has adopted a position statement expressing its concerns over the draft law on the organization of the University of Luxembourg currently under discussion.

In the view of the Association, the law fails to provide for the type of participatory democratic structures necessary for the continued successful development of our university, while also introducing rigid study regulations that may lead to unintentionally harsh consequences for students in particular circumstances.

Concerned to continue building on the remarkable national and international success of our university, APUL therefore calls for a public debate engaging the university community and civil society so as to ensure that the new law will be informed by a thoroughgoing process of democratic reflection and will be anchored in the realities of the Luxembourgish academic context.

The full text of the APUL position statement from the 20th of Navember 2017 may be found below respectively in English, French or German  :

Professor Luc Heuschling’s legal opinion may be found at:

 

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Call for an APUL EGM, Tuesday Nov 14, 17h00-18:30, room MSA 3.110

See Minutes here

Dear APUL members,

The APUL board calls for an extraordinary general  assembly of APUL on the 14th of November (17:00 – 18:30 venue Campus Belval MSA 3.110).

The first purpose of this Extraordinary Assembly is to take a position on the Loi sur l’Université du Luxembourg. I was told that the Conseil d’Etat is said to publish soon his report on the law. The APUL board is convinced that APUL should send its view on the law to the Conseil d’Etat as soon as possible in order to have it taken into account. There are several points in the law that could be challenging the democratic functioning of our University and on which we should express our concern. We apologise for the short notice of this announcement and the haste required to deal with this issue but given the context, we believe there is an urgent need to meet.

The second purpose of this Extraordinary Assembly will be to start discussing a welcome letter APUL could send to Stéphane Pallage, the new appointed rector, in order to draw his attention on several points we consider crucial for the functioning of the University, among which and inter alia the lack of transparency of the central administration processes which needs to be addressed by the future governance of UL.

Let us apologise again for the short notice and hope that in this extremely important stage in the history of the University of Luxembourg this Extraordinary Assembly will be attended by many of us. A massive attendance will be a strong signal of our commitment to the democratic development and functioning of our University and our strength as a community.

Kind regards,

On behalf of the APUL board,
Elise Poillot
APUL Chair

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