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News from the university management 15 September

On the management’s agenda

The University can contribute to solving global challenges

The refugee issue has recently been in the spotlight and we have seen enormous public engagement, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. This led him to ponder how Lund University can contribute, not least with reference to LU’s vision “to understand, explain and improve our world and the human condition”. “I get quite a number of questions about how we can contribute as a university. What campaigns and rallies should we take part in? How can the University contribute to solving the major global challenges we are facing? Well, we are here to offer expertise and knowledge, analysis and eduction in societal issues”, he writes. At the same time, he finds it gratifying and encouraging to see the enormous engagement shown by students and employees and the great humanism apparent in the University and in the rest of Sweden.

Direct dialogue with politicians is important 

Last week, the University management met with politicians from the municipality, the county council and the national parliament through an LU management initiative known as Politicians’ Forum. “I have a lot of faith in this kind of direct dialogue with our elected politicians, to share our experiences and activities. The University possesses knowledge (research) which the politicians need to solve global challenges, and we need to draw their attention to the success factors and obstacles to creating the best possible conditions for education and research”, writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. During the meeting, Torbjörn von Schantz presented a number of points which he sees as particularly urgent for the politicians to address: raising basic direct government funding for research, abolishing the principle of adapting salaries to general financial development which has entailed a SEK 15 billion drop in funding to higher education over the past 20 years, increasing the allocation per student on study programmes and abolishing the division into two funding allocations, one for research and one for education, instead allowing higher education institutions to decide on allocation themselves.

“We must take action to help academic refugees”

Suddenly it seems as though Sweden, Europe and other countries have woken up and realised that a refugee catastrophe is underway, with people running for their lives and risking everything to reach a safer and better place, writes Eva Wiberg in her blog. She praises the many efforts which have already been made, not least among students and employees within LU, and also writes about the actions that our higher education institutions could take. These include helping to ensure that those who had started their studies get the opportunity to complete them, and speeding up the recognition procedure so that they can more rapidly get credits transferred from the education they already have. “Our University, along with others, is part of the ‘Short route’ project, which enables people with an academic background to get a shortcut and, together with validation, receive complementary education where needed – including Swedish language tuition. Other ways of helping include ‘Scholars at risk’, a project which supports academic freedom and defends the human rights of academics around the world”, she writes, adding: “Our University will discuss further measures to help academics and students who have been forced to flee their homelands”. Read more on the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog

Competition: describe your research in three minutes

The U21 university network, of which Eva Wiberg is the director general, is organising a competition for researchers at the doctoral student level. Participants are to describe their research in just three minutes – making it comprehensible to the general public. This year’s Universitas 21 3MT Competition is now coming up. “I think this is an excellent opportunity to practise making presentations in a fun environment, to share research findings with others and, in addition, a chance to compete internationally for a scholarship”, writes the deputy vice-chancellor in her blog. The competition will take place during the Kulturnatten event in Lund on 19 September. Read more on the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog 

“Secure growth long into the future”

The connection between research and business has always been strong in this region. There are a number of examples of successful companies based on research at Lund University, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. Medicon Village, which houses several such companies, has expanded rapidly since the premises were taken over after the closure of AstraZeneca. “Research-based business is perhaps as important as research-based education. I have previously spoken about the disadvantages of research institutes where the entire focus is on research, with no link between research and education and the students – the young people who have the new ideas and moreover are destined to take over future societal development. So now, as Medicon Village plans the next step in its development and expansion onto the neighbouring plot of land, I send my warmest congratulations but also an appeal: if you want an even more dynamic environment, with a flow of new thoughts and people and thriving ideas for the future – then use part of the neighbouring plot to build not only researcher accommodation, but also student accommodation. That would secure growth in the region for a long time to come!”, writes the vice-chancellor.

LU News

All Staff Pages launched

Now the whole English version of the University’s new internal Staff Pages (Medarbetarwebben in Swedish) has been launched. This means that all the information available on Medarbetarwebben is now also available in English. See more on Staff Pages http://www.staff.lu.se

Campus Helsingborg celebrates 15 years

Campus Helsingborg turns 15 this year, and will celebrate with a jubilee day on 23 September with Torbjörn von Schantz in attendance. Campus Helsingborg has grown over the years and currently has 4 200 students. Read more on the Campus Helsingborg website

Lund University is taking part in the Book Fair

LU has an impressive programme for the Book Fair in Gothenburg starting on 24 September. A number of researchers will be present to talk about everything from advertising and crime novels to alcohol smuggling and archaeological finds. If you are unable to attend the actual fair, you can view the discussions at the stands after the event, as they will all be filmed and published on the LU website.

Researcher tour visits libraries around Skåne

During the autumn, a number of researchers will set out on a lecture tour of libraries around Skåne. The aim of the project is to communicate new, exciting research to the general public.

Higher education news

LERU demonstrates the importance of higher education for the European economy

The LERU (League of European Research Universities) network, to which Lund University belongs, has produced a report which estimates how much universities in the member states contribute to the European economy. Large sums of money are involved. The result of the investigation shows that the gross value added (GVA, the value contributed to the European economy by the higher education sector) in 2014 totalled EUR 71.2 billion and that, directly and indirectly, the sector created or contributed to just over 900 000 jobs all over Europe. Read more on the LERU website 

“Too many higher education institutions offer teacher training”

“Finland has eight universities offering teacher training programmes, Singapore has one. Sweden currently has as many as 28,” claim Isak Skogstad, of the National Union of Teachers’ Student Association, and Bo Jansson, of the National Union of Teachers, in an opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet. They would like to see a reinforcement of government control of teacher training programmes, to ensure sufficient quality. They present three proposals to achieve this: teacher training programmes should be concentrated in fewer universities, their volume should match the needs of schools and their funding grants should be raised in order to increase contact hours.

Inquiry into the possibilities and limitations of MOOCs

This autumn, the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) will conduct an inquiry into the implications of MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for Swedish higher education. There are still uncertainties as to how MOOCs should be managed, including how they should be funded and how credits could be transferred from these online courses. The government has tasked the Swedish Higher Education Authority with investigating the possibilities and limitations of introducing MOOCs in Swedish higher education. A report is to be completed by early 2016.
Meanwhile, reports are arriving from various higher education institutions in the US and the UK on the problems associated with MOOCs, including the high drop-out rate and opportunities for cheating.

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