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12/06/2020 - 13:59

Response to potential delays in research and publication output following COVID-19

Jón Atli Benediktsson, Rector of the University of Iceland, sent the following announcement to students and staff today:

"Dear students and colleagues,

This week, the University of Iceland annual forum took place in the Aula, attended by the Minister of Education, Science and Culture. The forum was a great success. The title of the annual forum this year was "Innovation in teaching at the University of Iceland".

As part of the forum, an award was presented for "enterprise and leadership" at the University of Iceland. I made the following address on the subject:

"This award is now presented for the second time and is intended to honour a group or team who have demonstrated particular enterprise and leadership in developing outstanding work at the University.

The award recipients are selected jointly by the Rector and the deans of all five schools at the University of Iceland.

We want to use these awards to highlight the remarkable and unselfish work that takes place every day at the University of Iceland – work which truly deserves recognition, in the areas of teaching and learning, research and innovation, equality, public outreach, or student initiatives, to name just a few examples.

The University of Iceland annual forum award for enterprise and leadership this year goes to the University of Iceland teaching staff and administrative staff in academic affairs, who recently succeeded in transforming teaching at the University of Iceland in a miraculously short time under challenging circumstances.

After being set the enormous task of moving literally all teaching, learning, examinations and other assessment online during the assembly ban in Iceland, teachers and administrative staff at the University of Iceland displayed all the qualities that this award is intended to recognise.

Through their hard work, selflessness, talent and inventiveness, the teaching staff, educational managers, pedagogical development managers and administrative and support staff at the University of Iceland identified solutions in response to an unforeseen and demanding situation, while simultaneously safeguarding the quality of study programmes for students at the University of Iceland."

I offer my heartfelt congratulations to all teaching staff and academic affairs support staff on this well-deserved award.

University of Iceland response to potential delays in research and publication output caused by the COVID-19 pandemic

Administrators at the University of Iceland are aware that the COVID-19 pandemic has had various negative effects on staff and students at the University. The impact has certainly varied between groups and individuals and factors such as sex, family responsibilities and working conditions must be taken into consideration.

Delays in research and publication output of academic staff

It is clear that circumstances related to COVID-19 have in some cases affected the research and publication output of academic staff, e.g. due to the following factors:

  • Family responsibilities, e.g. childcare due to closure or reduced opening hours of preschools and primary schools.
  • Changes to teaching methods due to the assembly ban.
  • Delays in the operations of journals and publishers.
  • Postponement or cancellation of conferences and other events connected to the research.
  • Illness due to COVID-19.

It can be difficult to measure the negative impact of COVID-19 on staff productivity, but in an effort to mitigate this, the University will implement the following measures:

  1. Due to changes to teaching methods, all academic staff with teaching responsibilities during the spring semester 2020 will receive pedagogical development points for the semester. Schools and faculties will be consulted regarding evaluation of teaching contributions.
  2. The impact of COVID-19 on University of Iceland staff will be mapped, e.g. by the UI Educational Research Institute, and this will be used to shape potential measures to mitigate the negative impact of the pandemic on publication output where necessary.
  3. For the same reason, academic staff will have the option of explaining the impact of COVID-19 on their work for the annual productivity report.

Impact on funding for the salaries of PhD students and post-docs

In cases where salaries are funded by grants involving overhead charges (foreign grants and Rannís grants), potential loss of work will be covered from the overhead charges that go to the project and the school.

In cases where the salary is paid from a UI doctoral fund or UI postdoctoral grant, i.e. a grant not involving overhead charges, the grant recipient may apply to the UI Division of Human Resources by emailing mannaudur@hi.is in order to receive compensation for potential loss of work.

When evaluating to what extent it is possible to accommodate a grant recipient, consideration will be given to the following factors:

  • The scale of the loss of work, evaluated in consultation with the supervisor.
  • Limited access to necessary work facilities.
  • The number and age of children in the home.
  • Whether the person in question had to quarantine.
  • Whether the person in question became ill with COVID-19.

It is also recommended that everyone contact their grant provider to explore the possibility of an extension of the project deadline and/or reorganisation of items in the budget in order to accommodate potential disruptions to the plan caused by the pandemic.

Let's enjoy the weekend at this beautiful time of year.

Jón Atli Benediktsson,
Rector / President"