Board of Trustees Report
Through strategic priorities and goal-oriented work, BI has positioned itself as the best business school in Norway and one of the most highly recognized business schools in Europe. Following a decline in the number of applicants to the school’s full-time programmes in 2018, BI made the necessary moves for innovation of the programme portfolio, which led to an increase in the number of applicants and admissions in 2019.
In the time to come, the Trustees have a continued focus on innovation related to programme portfolios, programme models, further strengthening of BI’s academic environment, and continued professionalization and digitalization of BI’s business and administrative routines.
For the fifth year in a row, BI has been ranked as the best business school in Norway by the Financial Times. BI’s faculty distinguish themselves in the best international journals, as well as through visibility and impact in business and industry and social debate. BI graduates are attractive on the labour market and BI’s alumni leave their mark in the society and in business.
The Board of Trustees has been very pleased with the way BI in 2019 has worked on concretizing and following up important strategy objectives towards 2025. Based on clear feedback from NOKUT after a supervision pilot in 2018, employees in all parts of the organization have helped establish a more open, predictable, documented and learning quality culture. The Board recognizes BI’s work on systematic documentation of processes, the establishment of routines and clear responsibilities linked to the development and revision of courses and programmes, and the students’ participation in the quality work process. In connection with the upcoming NOKUT audit in November 2020, the Board of Trustees greatly appreciates the support for and implementation of the quality assurance system by the whole organization.
The Board of Trustees is very pleased with the fact that BI, through strong efforts by many employees, has renewed the programme portfolio during 2019. The Board would like to emphasize that innovation related to programme portfolios and models is particularly important to ensure that BI’s educational provision is attractive and relevant also in the time to come. In particular, the Board notes that new programmes have helped turn a negative trend as regards admissions to BI‘s full-time programmes. The Board is following the innovation of BI’s bachelor’s programme model with great expectations and is confident that it will meet the challenges and provide good opportunities in the bachelor’s programmes market in the future.
The Board of Trustees is impressed with the students at BI, who in 2019 decided to merge BIS and SBIO into a joint student organization from 1 January 2020. Through joint efforts and goal-oriented work for social and academic integration, the new BI Student Organization (BISO) will contribute to making BI an even better school and arena for student development. In addition, the students’ voice in national student politics will become stronger.
BI shall be a research-based international business school closely involved with business and industry, and with a global approach to knowledge development. BI shall lead the way through research and dissemination of knowledge, to educate responsible leaders who will contribute to a sustainable society and sustainable business. The Board is of the opinion that BI has a strategic direction that meets geopolitical uncertainty, technological development and the need for reorganization in an adequate manner.
The Board has adopted a strategy for BI where sustainability is high on the agenda. The strategy implies that the sustainability goals of the UN must be reflected in BI’s programmes, research and operations. The Board has given priority to the sustainability goals related to quality of education (SDG4), gender equality (SDG5) and ending climate change (SDG13) as particularly important to BI as an institution. BI’s annual report for 2019 contains additional information on BI’s activities related to sustainability.
The Board of Trustees would like to thank all employees, students, alumni, partners and everyone who has contributed to enabling the institution to make great and important strides during the past year. Good interaction is crucial to ensure quality at all levels for BI to provide world-class learning and research. The Board recognizes that reorganization in a large and complex organization like BI may be very demanding and would like to give praise to everyone who has participated in the work to move BI forward.
To a large extent, BI has succeeded in revitalizing the programme portfolios. BI has also made important decisions to strengthen the school’s academic competence in data science and digitalization. In 2019 BI has decided on and implemented a number of investments related to digitalization that will ensure a more learning-oriented and future-oriented educational provision.
I 2019 and 2020 BI implemented major investments in digitalization projects. These include investments to digitalize the school’s core activity and support functions for the benefit of both students and staff. In 2019 the organization, in accordance with priorities adapted by the Board, implemented a new data warehouse. Early in 2020 a new CRM system was introduced. The Board believes these investments have been necessary to enable the whole BI organization to work with greater insight, and more analytically and efficiently, to ensure that the dialogue with applicants, students, alumni and businesses is of high quality. The Board of Trustees believes that this will support the long-term work on increasing the completion rate for students.
InfoHub, which is BI’s new reception service for all incoming enquiries, will be implemented in January 2020. InfoHub will provide a more customer-oriented, streamlined and documented student service.
In the autumn of 2019 BI decided to strengthen academic competence and capacity within data science. As from the autumn of 2020, a new Department of Data Science will be established, and the school has entered into an agreement with the research institute Simula on the establishment of a joint research centre for digitalization and data science in the course of 2020.
The Board of Trustees, and the Ministry of Education, expect that BI will increase its income from externally funded activities (BOA) and to an even larger degree will meet the challenges and needs of business and society. The Board recognizes that this is time-consuming and laborious work and is positive to a 7.5 per cent a growth in externally funded research from 2018.
The Board considers the revitalization of the programme portfolio for full-time programmes as successful. New bachelor’s programmes have contributed to slowing down a negative development in admissions. The Board notes that the new bachelor’s programme in Organization Psychology, HR and Management is BI’s second largest bachelor’s programme after the first admission in 2019. The successful introduction of a master’s pilot programme on Campus Bergen is in line with BI’s ambition to offer master’s degree programmes at several campuses.
As regards BI’s Executive programmes, the objective for 2019 has been to maintain market shares. The Board notes that there is a small decline in the number of applicants to Executive bachelor’s programmes and web-based programmes. The Board finds it very positive that the development for Executive master’s programmes is good. The Board notes the Government’s focus on life-long learning. This focus offers new opportunities, but will also lead to a new competitive situation with new programmes offered by universities and university colleges.
A new specialization in digitalization on BI’s Executive MBA (EMBA) resulted in very high admission numbers in 2019. In the Financial Times’s ranking of EMBAs, BI’s programme was ranked number 89 in the world. The Board is very pleased to note that BI’s cooperation with School of Management at Fudan University in Shanghai constantly shows good results. The ranking by the Financial Times of the BI-Fudan EMBA as number 27 in the world is impressive.
BI Corporate had a good year with several new projects and good results. A growth in turnover of about 12 per cent indicates that BI is increasing its attractiveness and relevance as a competence partner for players in business and the public sector.
Implementing the budget with an emphasis on prioritized goals
HIGH QUALITY IN EDUCATION AND RESEARCH
The Board of Trustees would like to underline the importance of reducing the drop-out rate and increasing the number of students that complete their studies within the nominal length of study. The Board is pleased to note that credit production at BI has been stable and good for the master’s degree programmes with a completion rate of about 80 per cent within the nominal length of study. The Board also notes that over the last few years the completion rate for the bachelor’s programmes has developed positively, with 41 per cent completion within the nominal length of study in 2019 as against 39.8 per cent in 2018. An increased focus on admission quality and good follow-up the PhD candidates have led to good results. The Board is pleased to note that the completion rate for the PhD programme has increased from 63 per cent in 2018 to 71 per cent in 2019.
The feedback from the students regarding the quality of the programmes is generally good. With respect to supervision and participation, there is a potential for improvement. The Board looks forward to the implementation of the quality assurance system, which it believes will contribute to better academic supervision and participation.
The amount of time BI students spend on their studies is not very different from the national average in spite of the fact that BI students spend a great deal of time on paid work along with their studies.
Faculty recruitment and development is a high priority for the Board of Trustees. The Board is very pleased with the increase in the number of publication points in 2019, and particularly with the increase at level 2.
In the course of 2019, systematic work has been carried out to increase the share of externally funded research, among other things through better competence and increased capacity with BI’s research administration. The Board is satisfied with the growth in revenues from externally funded research projects. Turnover in 2019 totalled 37.2 million NOK, an increase of 7.5 per cent as compared to 2018. The Board expects a further increase for 2020.
WELFARE, VALUE CREATION AND REORGANIZATION
BI’s graduates are very attractive on the labour market. The employment rate is high, particularly among the graduates from our master’s degree programmes. Almost nine out of ten of these graduates obtain relevant jobs within six months of graduation. BI has been working systematically over time to improve the relevance of its programmes of study. Among other things, a council with representatives from business and industry has been established for most programmes. All proposals for new programmes must document relevance and insight from business and industry and/or the public sector.
BI has given priority to the work on increasing BOA (externally funded activities) funding of teaching projects. This is particularly important for BI’s Executive programmes (EVU). In 2019 BI obtained NOK 94.8 million in external funding for teaching projects and other projects from sources other than the Research Council of Norway and the EU. The Board of Trustees believes that this contributes to creating a good basis for research-based teaching based on theory and practically relevant knowledge.
EFFICIENT, DIVERSE AND SOLID HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR AND RESEARCH SYSTEM
BI has developed programmes of study and teaching models that make it possible to assure programme quality and offer a large number of places for students in relation to the number of academic work years at the institution. I 2019 investments have been made in development projects that ensure continued high quality, efficiency and efficient use of academic resources.
In the budget for 2019, special attention was given to the UN’s sustainability goal number 5, gender equality. The Board notices that the gender balance for Associate Professors and Professors is moving in the right direction and would like to underline the importance of continuing the work for gender equality. The Board is pleased that increased qualification opportunities for academic positions has had a positive impact.
BI uses temporary positions to a very small degree. In addition to the qualifying fixed-term positions, BI has five employees in substitute positions and five employees in short-term temporary positions. There are no temporary employees in externally funded research positions.
ACHIEVED RESULTS, IMPORTANT MATTERS, CHALLENGES AND ACTIONS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
BI’s operations in 2019 have been conducted in accordance with the budget and adopted plans. Increased innovation related to the programme portfolio, particularly the full-time programmes, was budgeted for. The Board believes that admissions for 2019 show that to a large extent BI has succeeded in reversing a trend with slightly falling numbers of applicants and admissions to the bachelor’s programmes. The Board notices that admissions to the full-time master’s degree programmes were about the same as in 2018. With respect to further and continuing education, the result for the bachelor’s and web-based programmes declined slightly, whereas the result for the master’s programmes was more positive.
During 2018 the Board prepared a response to a possible long-term impact from a decline in admissions of full-time bachelor students. In particular, it was emphasized that BI has to succeed in meeting changes in study preferences and a changed competitive situation through research-based, learning-oriented and future-oriented programmes. The Board is satisfied with the work of the administration in 2019 and its preparation of emergency plans to meet alternative scenarios. BI finds itself in a demanding competitive situation. The school is competing for students who may choose studies free of charge at State Universities and University Colleges. Furthermore, the Board expects that competition from the state institutions will increase in the field of further and continuing education. This requires that BI innovates and renews its programme portfolios continuously.
The Board of Trustees has a positive outlook on the future for BI Norwegian Business School. Quality, innovation and ability to adapt will be keywords for BI when in the future the institution is to provide individuals with skills to meet challenges, shape their careers and reach their goals.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PRIORITIES FOR 2020
In 2018 the Board adopted a new strategy for BI Norwegian Business School. The strategy specifies the long-term objectives for BI towards 2025, and points out the following three overall areas that must be prioritized in order to reach the strategic goals: the development of attractive programmes of study and attractive graduates, the development of a first-rate academic environment and ensuring excellent operating practices. Within all areas, the Board of Trustees emphasizes internationalization, digitalization and sustainability as particularly important elements.
The project team for the future bachelor’s programmes model submitted its report in the autumn of 2019. The Board looks forward to the administration speeding up the work on the future bachelor’s education at BI.
The Board has placed the implementation of BI’s quality assurance system high on the agenda for 2020. This implies starting to use, and getting an effect out of, the routines, descriptions of processes and roles, dashboards and set of templates that were revised and developed in 2019.
In 2020 BI will begin the development of a Master in Management (MiM) programme, a new full-time master’s programme that will extend the recruitment basis for BI’s master’s programmes. BI Executive will develop new short programmes (Short Learning Programmes), and smaller, flexible learning modules. In addition, BI’s participation in the international FOME alliance (The Future of Management Education Alliance) will be strengthened through the Insendi platform.
For 2020 the Board of Trustees has given priority to the further development of BI’s faculty and the establishment of an overall plan for academic recruitment and development of BI’s academic environments in accordance with the school’s research strategy and its strategy for the programme portfolios. A renewal of BI’s compulsory workload model and incentive schemes for academic work to ensure better utilization of resources and to contribute to innovation for programme portfolios and delivery models will be particularly important. The Board has prioritized the establishment of a new academic department in data science and a strategic alliance with an external research partner (SIMULA), through the establishment of a new research centre (Simula@BI).
Over time, the Board has placed digital investments high on the agenda, and in the course of 2020, gains from these investments will be realized. A new CRM system will make life simpler for students and staff and provide BI with greater and better insight as regards customers. New digital tools shall help BI base its work on better insight, irrespective of whether it is a matter of increasing students’ completion rate or documenting the work on quality at BI. The new examination solution WISEflow is more robust than the previous one and makes new forms of assessment in BI’s programmes possible.
In addition to these prioritized strategic measures for 2020, The Board has given priority to a number of larger and smaller development projects across the organization, including an upgrading and renewal of BI’s alumni concept and an institutionalization of BI’s external relations, as well as the establishment of a new GRC unity (Governance, Risk and Compliance) and new management tools for BI’s operations. The Board has also given priority to the work on assessing and revising BI’s pension scheme to secure a sustainable and future-oriented pension model for BI and BI’s employees.
The Board believes that there is a high degree of innovation readiness and ability to implement decisions is the organization and is confident that BI will succeed in carrying out the prioritized development projects for 2020.
The outbreak of the COVID-19-virus in Asia in the winter of 2019, with dispersion to the rest of the world, has an impact on societies and business globally. BI Norwegian Business School is also affected by this. It is too soon, however, to draw any conclusions regarding the extent of the outbreak, and therefore it is uncertain how this will affect the results and the development of the enterprise.
BI has put preventive measures into effect both to protect its own employees and students, and a continuous assessment is being made of the necessity for any adaptations.
BI Norwegian Business School has not made, and does not plan to make, any organizational changes that will affect the legal or financial position of the foundation.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, DISCRIMINATION AND AVAILABILITY
BI’s plan for diversity an equality affirms that all employees shall have the same rights, duties and opportunities irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, national origin, functional ability, philosophy of life or sexual tendency.
BI aims at a gender distribution within the 60-40 interval, and systematic wage differentials shall be neutralized.
The work on equality has a particular focus on increasing the share of women on the faculty and in academic leadership positions, as well as increasing the number of males in administrative positions. In 2019, therefore, two working parties were appointed to prepare a new plan of action for equal opportunities.
The number of women in academic positions has increased to 34 per cent, but with great variations across position categories and departments. At the end of 2019, BI had 27 female professors. The women’s share among professors is 23 per cent. The men’s share in administrative positions is 34 per cent. 78 per cent of administrative leaders at level 3 are women.
The women’s share on the Board of Trustees is 62.5 per cent, whereas in the Senate it amounts to 40 per cent. 40 per cent of the top management team (four out of ten) are women, and for heads of department and deans the figures are 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.
In the autumn 2019 BI received the results from a national survey on bullying and harassment in the higher education sector. The results were followed up in leadership seminars and in the organization with a focus on communicating how notifications of problematic or unacceptable behaviour shall be made and followed up. BI has chosen to focus particularly on how to prevent sexual harassment in the further follow-up. Revised notification routines have been prepared pursuant to new provisions in the Working Environment Act.
In 2019, in addition to Norwegians, 49 nationalities were represented among BI’s employees. In an effort to include everybody with an international background in the working environment, BI aims at making all information available in English and that English is the main language when the whole organization is gathered. At the end of 2019, 17 per cent of all BI’s employees were foreign citizens. The share of international staff amounted to 4 per cent for administrative employees and 33 per cent for all persons in academic positions.
On average, senior staff in academic positions work until they reach 69 years of age, which is up 0.9 year from 2018. Senior administrative staff work until they reach 66.4 years of age, down 1.7 years from 2018.
The buildings of BI Norwegian Business School are universally designed. Because of modern buildings and active adaptation, no deviations due to lack of adaptation have been reported.
In the autumn of 2019, the Board paid a visit to the BI Trondheim campus and was very impressed with the new facilities.
CIVIL PROTECTION AND PREPAREDNESS
A central element in BI’s HSE activities is to secure the life and health of individuals. BI has prepared an overall emergency plan that defines responsibilities and risks, prevents serious incidents and ensures that such incidents are adequately dealt with should they occur. The emergency plan is intended to enable the school to deal with situations that require extraordinary measures to avoid or restrict harmful effects to human beings, the environment, material values and the school’s reputation.
In 2019 BI appointed a new employee to be responsible for security and preparedness and ensure that undesired incidents are professionally and adequately dealt with. A risk and vulnerability analysis (ROS) conducted in the autumn of 2019 uncovered a need for strengthening competence and understanding of roles among the different players of the organization in connection with preparedness activities. Training and raising the consciousness of the organization, therefore, is a prioritized task.
No drills were organized in 2019, but a number of major threat situations were dealt with, which provided good training. Assessments were performed and learning points are followed up.
FRAMEWORK CONDITIONS AND COMPLIANCE
BI wants to strengthen internal control and compliance. In 2019 the whole organization has been involved in the work on clarifying and documenting processes, as well as establishing common routines and a set of templates related to quality assurance of all courses and programmes. This work continues with unabated strength in 2020.
STATEMENT ON COMMERCIAL TERMS
The Board confirms that all transactions between BI Norwegian Business School and closely related entities, as well as group transactions, have been priced and conducted pursuant to commercial conditions.
The Board of Trustees in 2019
The Board of Trustees consists of 10 members of which four are external members and two are observers.
The internal members of the Board count two representatives elected by and among BI’s faculty, one representative and one observer elected by and among BI’s administrative staff, and one student representative and one student observer elected by the student organization.
CHAIR OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
BI’s Board of Trustees has elected Åse Aulie Michelet as new Chair of the Board for a term of three years as from 1 August 2018. Åse Aulie Michelet has held a number of leadership positions in Norwegian and international business and has comprehensive board experience.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AS AT 31 DECEMBER 2019
Åse Aulie Michelet Chair of the Board
Per Hove External Member of the Board
Bjørn Jørgensen External Member of the Board
Bente Svensson External Member of the Board
Pål Lauritzen Representative for the academic staff
Caroline Dale Ditlev-Simonsen Representative for the academic staff
Siv Jønland Staubo Deputy representative for the academic staff
Anders Dysvik Deputy representative for the academic staff
Kjersti Ø. Gummerson Representative for the administrative staff
Truls Birger Brænden Observer from the administrative staff
Minda Sofie Håan Aakre (Deputy representative for the administrative staff)
Ole Andreas Løseth (Deputy representative for the administrative staff)
Fredrik Knutsen Hegdal Student representative
Sunniva Sandjord Student observer