A committee established by the Ministry of Education has adopted a motion on a university structure for Iceland, or rather two separate motions. The approach applied for forming the first of these two was conventional, implying a set framework with four universities. That structure foresees two public universities, one formed by the fusion of the University of Iceland and the Agricultural College of Iceland, the other by merging the University of Akureyri and the Hólar College. In addition there would be two independent universities, one resulting from the merger of Reykjavik University and the Bifröst Colllege, the other being the Iceland Academy of the Arts, The arguments are likewise traditional, concerning efficiency of size and better utilization of resources than obtainable with free colloboration. The second of the two motions envisages seven self-governing universities; it is assumed that these will make do by colloboration and mergers.
The second of the two motions is more flexible than the first as it includes requirements that are supposed to force the universities to manage their affairs in a responsible fashion. It is absolutely out of the question, however, that self-governing universities can survive without state means. This makes it necessary for the public funding authorities to examine the universities, not least their course programmes and locations. With this in view the two approaches are not so far apart.
There can be no permanent structure of the universities. Good organization means setting the rules of play that guide people to respond to the conditions of the time and changes in conditions. The basic work of organizing a university structure is not unlike forming a communication infrastucture for the whole country. Implementation of such a plan occurs in steps, one step taking over after another, but endlessy. It is necessary to integrate into one total solution the answer to large and small issues. A few may have an urgent interest and special understanding of some of these issues, most others having a general understanding.
Fund voting is a most convenient tool for integrating the answers when working out what attitude to take regarding co-operation on large or small projects, or on the merger of projects, large or small, or even on the dissolution of larger entities or projects. Here we are, in fact, discussing fund voting on major issues. The participants approach the end result incrementally, having free scope for revision. The game rules encourage responsible actions: influencing the outcome costs votes. But first it is necessary to decide who are to advise. Are there others who are more qualified than members of the Parliament? Fund voting could be carried out in such a way that each MP selects one or more consultants who would then dispose over the MP’s votes in proportions decided upon by the MP himself. These consultants subsequently shape the university structure in a fund voting procedure. Thereafter the Parliament decides upon the status of the case, each MP taking the position he prefers when it is time to handle the case, but it will continue as a major issue to be decided upon any way the participants wish. This approach makes full use of the documents on the committee's opinions.
Instructions on the use of fund voting on major issues are to be found in Democracy with sequential choice and fund voting in a chapter entitled Major issues.
Morgunbladid, May 18 2012 [translated from the Icelandic]