It was with great pleasure that I presented at the recent Association of University Administrators Annual Conference at the University of Manchester. With the conference theme of ‘HE: Fit for the Future?’, it was a wonderful opportunity to share the key observations and learning gained by my fellow UK delegates during the 2018 AUA Study Trip to Sweden.
Representatives from six British institutions including the University College London, BPP, De Montfort University, University of Portsmouth, and Anglia Ruskin University were chosen where I was proud to represent BU. Recording our observations whilst visiting various Swedish institutions and HE associations, the report has just been released on the AUA website.
One element of Swedish Higher Education that we found quite intriguing was that of taking a ‘Fika’ break. Essentially what we would term as a communal coffee break with a sweet bun or pastry, we found it taking place twice a day everywhere that we went where all members of a team would gather and chat. Enforced by senior managers, it was deemed to be a necessary part of everyday work life on campus as it was an extension of cultural traditions. For the British delegates observing, we felt that by implementing such a system in the UK HE sector, or our own adaptation of it, there would be clear advantages and benefits. Whilst we could see this positively impacting staff morale, establishing and developing closer relationships with both direct and indirect colleagues, growing a greater awareness of campus life, amongst many others, there was a certain amount of uncertainty around senior management being supportive of these short breaks, particularly given the current stress regarding resourcing.
During our conference presentation, my co-presenter Faith Marsh from BPP London and I gave the attendees time to explore at their tables their thoughts on if and how they could foresee implementing a Fika break into their daily patterns. It became very clear that everyone who attended unanimously agreed that whilst a daily break would be frown upon and ultimately impossible, the idea of a weekly or fortnightly staff break would be possible. We discussed how we could all take the initiative forward at our own campuses and given how many of us have been in contact since, we shall see how things progress along the Swedish way!
For further information and the report: