News from the University management 1 February
On the management’s agenda
“Do not blame low quality education on the students”
History professor Dick Harrison’s opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet last week on the quality of education received much attention and sparked a lot of debate on editorial pages, the radio, television and social media. Torbjörn von Schantz writes in his blog that “Harrison highlights a problem that many of us in higher education have discussed for a long time, namely that the quality of education is declining. So Dick Harrison helping to put quality of education on the agenda is obviously a good thing. Unfortunately, I find that the professor’s analysis of the factors contributing to reduced quality does not hold”. According to the Vice-Chancellor, the influence of the students or students’ unions is not the problem; rather, the debate ought to focus on the funding model for education that, with its productivity requirements, is in fact a savings requirement. Students, on the other hand, greatly help move quality assurance issues forward. “Swedish higher education institutions have a hard time reaching their full potential due to budget cuts in education that we have had to live with for many years, and that have resulted in fewer contact hours for students. We must be aware of this and continue to relay this message to the politicians. But blaming reduced quality in education on this generation of students, through generalising and unsupported claims, does not instil confidence – especially for a professor”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz.
Taking responsibility and being a role model is a leadership issue
“Student life in Lund is an old custom and tradition full of celebration and merriment, as well as crazy antics”, writes the Vice-Chancellor in his blog, noting that, in these contexts, alcohol is often romanticised. Simultaneously, there are those who experience problems with alcohol, and these issues must be taken very seriously. “During their studies, some, albeit few, pave the way for alcohol abuse and addiction-related diseases later in life”, he writes, and asks the question whether the University is to be responsible or have opinions on drinking, which sometimes gets out of hand, and takes place after hours. Some believe that the University is only responsible for the students’ education, and not what adults choose to do in their spare time. “However, that point of view does not sufficiently consider that the outside world sees Lund University’s student life as part of the entire experience. The brand is largely based on great education, and great parties – in Lund you can study and have fun! We are all responsible for the image of our University – both staff and students – during the day when studies are in session, and at night when it’s time to party”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz, who believes that being a good example and ensuring that all staff/colleagues/members are in good health is a leadership issue.
Students from all over the world in Lund
Every year in January, students from all over world arrive in Lund. This year Torbjörn von Schantz and Eva Wiberg were pleased to welcome some 650 students from more than 50 countries. Eva Wiberg, in her blog, stresses how much it means for the University to have so many students arrive from different countries. “At Lund University we seek to develop an international learning environment and strengthen international perspectives in education. And in this effort, you are an important part!”, she writes.
“Experiencing the students’ enthusiasm, expectations and joy about their future studies in Lund is a privilege. The students that arrived from different parts of the world treated each other as if they were lifelong friends, but it turned out that they had only known each other for a few hours. Is there a better way to make different countries, religions and cultures come together than to have young people meet and study in this way? I think not!”, writes the Vice-Chancellor in his blog. Read more on the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s blog
Vice-Chancellor’s seminar on the new strategic plan
On 10 February it is time for the second Vice-Chancellor’s seminar on the upcoming strategic plan. This time, the seminar will be held in English and all staff and students are welcome to attend. The plan is to take effect in 2017 and will be valid for 10 years. It will become the main policy document for the University over the next decade, and it is therefore very important that as many as possible are involved in the process. Learn more and register to attend the seminar here
New arts council to promote cultural life
Lund University has established a new arts council. The aim is to strengthen cultural life, and the council is intended to be a discussion partner and an ideas forum in the University’s efforts to form a strategy for the University’s cultural interaction with surrounding society. One goal is to systematically allow the University’s collective cultural capital to benefit society, the University internally, and to promote a richer cultural life that will help make LU a more attractive environment for both students and staff.
Administrators and teaching staff received recognition at the annual ceremony
Last Thursday Lund University held its annual ceremony in connection with St. Charles Day – the day the University was inaugurated in 1668. During the ceremony, last year’s recipients of the Administrative Prize – Head of Finance Sara Novakov and caretakers Claes Lawett and Lars-Göran Stjärnfeldt – received recognition, as well as the recipients of the Student Prize for Excellence in Teaching, which this year went to Magnus Hillman, Elisabeth Högdahl and Anna Houmann. The ceremonial lecture was held by Professor of Legal History Elsa Trolle Önnerfors.
Higher education news
MOOCs are to make higher education more accessible
The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) has proposed that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are to be accommodated and funded within higher education institutions. Such courses are already available at LU and other places, and UKÄ was commissioned by the government to investigate the opportunities and obstacles of having MOOCs in Swedish higher education institutions. The present proposal suggests that all government higher education institutions, and several private education providers, shall be given the opportunity to offer MOOCs, funded by the government. According to the proposal, the higher education institutions shall also be permitted to charge participants with a fee for a certificate stating that they have studied and completed the course, even if such a certificate has no formal function. UKÄ proposes that higher education institutions may use a maximum of 0.2 per cent of their government funding to finance MOOCs, as their core activities are to continue to be traditional higher education and research. However, it is also possible to find funding elsewhere. In the investigation MOOCs are highlighted as a possible way to provide relevant education to people who have recently arrived in Sweden.
Specialised education institutions do not generate better research
According to a new analysis from the European ranking organisation U Multirank, research at higher education institutions that specialise in a particular discipline is not better than at education institutions that provide a wider range of education and research, writes the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) in its international newsletter. The analysis shows that there is no significant difference in the results of research, almost regardless of how it is measured. The exception could be found with regard to co-publication of research results with the industry, and generated revenue from continuing professional development courses. Within these areas, the analysis shows that the specialised education institutions had a clear upper hand.
“Higher education institutions are recruiting researchers internally”
“The low mobility is worrying, especially with regard to postdoc and career development positions”, says Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council, about a new report showing that many higher education institutions recruit a majority of their teaching staff and researchers internally. He believes this indicates that Swedish higher education institutions need to increasingly see recruitment as a strategic issue to be dealt with on a management level.