News from the university management 16 April
On the management’s agenda
A small step in the right direction in spring budget
Yesterday the Government presented its proposed spring budget bill. It includes the proposal that the investment in 5 000 new student places for 2015 should be re-introduced and that the investment should increase to over 14 000 new places in Sweden over the next few years. “More places are very important to us, as we educate the equivalent of 2 000 students above the funding cap – that is education we deliver without being paid. The most important thing for us from a long-term perspective is an increase in the amount of funding we receive per student”, writes the vice-chancellor on his blog. A small step in the right direction is that the previously announced investment in quality enhancement in the humanities/social sciences and teacher training programmes remains. “If we base our calculations on what is presented in the budget bill, this means that Lund University will receive an increase in funding for undergraduate and Master’s education of SEK 21.7 million in 2015”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz.
University should be a role model on climate change
This week, Torbjörn von Schantz met representatives of Fossil Free, an organisation that is demanding that the University’s Endowment Administration should not invest in funds that include industries such as gas and oil. The Endowment Board reviews the University’s investments on an ongoing basis, both from the perspective of returns and to ensure that they follow the University Board’s policy. The policy states that LU is to follow the OECD guidelines for multinational companies and the United Nations Global Compact. “Can our holdings become 100 per cent fossil-free? I think the idea is a good one, but I am not sure that it is possible to implement it, because we must take into account the legislation and rules that apply to our foundations. However, we will of course continue to review our investments both on the University Board and on the Endowment Board. A university like LU, which conducts extensive research and education on climate change and research that aims to find new and efficient methods that can replace fossil fuels, should also be a role model on the issue of climate change when it comes to its investments. As I see it, we already have very well-managed endowment administration that takes into consideration both returns and sustainability”, writes the vice-chancellor on his blog.
Important to defend university breadth
At the moment, the management is going through budgets with all the faculties. “It is perhaps in these budget dialogues that it is most obvious that LU is a broad university and that the faculties have completely different conditions for conducting education and research”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz on his blog. There are major differences between the different faculties and all want a larger proportion of the direct government funding that is available. “Breadth is definitely Lund University’s strength and it is my job to strengthen those areas of the organisation that are not part of the often market-oriented tombola to which the recalculation of government appropriations contributes”, writes the vice-chancellor, who feels that it is important to manage the funding the University actually has rather than putting all our energy into obtaining funding that we do not have.
Number of international Master’s students on the increase
Both the number of applicants and the number of students admitted to LU’s Master’s programmes for autumn 2015 have increased on last year. Preliminary figures show that the number of applicants is 15 316, which is 613 more than in 2014. Of these, 65 per cent have put LU as their first choice, compared with 58 per cent the previous year. “Unfortunately, there has been a noticeable decrease in applications from many African countries. This is probably a result of the withdrawal of the government-funded Swedish Institute scholarships. Students from many of these countries are dependent on these scholarships to cover not only tuition fees but also travel expenses and living costs. Next year, when the SI scholarships are reinstated, an increased number of applications are expected from these regions. This shows how important the scholarships are for diversity at the university”, writes Eva Wiberg on her blog. Find out more on the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog
Five LU staff on government research committee
Mats Benner, Ingalill Rahm Hallberg, Henrik Smith, Sylvia Schwaag Serger and Christian Stråhlman are the new members from Lund University on the Government’s research committee, along with twelve representatives of other universities. ”The research committee will be a forum for Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Minister for Higher Education and Research, to discuss the shaping of the proposals and priorities that the Government will be proceeding with during its term of office. This is a very important role and I want to congratulate our staff on this well-earned appointment”, writes the vice-chancellor on his blog.
New investment in research on gambling addiction
Last year it was announced that Svenska Spel would be investing in research on gambling addiction, the first of its kind in Sweden. Anders Håkansson, who has been appointed to the new post as senior lecturer in addiction medicine specialising in gambling addiction, focuses his research on preventive measures to stop gambling addiction. The project will run over five years.
“Wrong to allow institutions to evaluate themselves”
Seven professors of economics, including Karin Jonnergård from the Lund School of Economics and Management, have criticised the Government for using New Public Management in their proposal that university leaders should be in charge of the majority of evaluations of higher education in an opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet. “The Government is following the NPM line exactly when it proposes that managers of higher education institutions should be in charge of the major parts of the evaluations, and not the Government through the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ). UKÄ is assigned the extremely abstract and toothless task of scrutinising the universities’ own evaluation systems from a distance. In this, we see the strengthening of organisations and weakening of the Government and the professions that is typical of NPM”, they write.
“Are universities the next crisis area?”
University lecturers and researchers should once again form a majority on the University Board. By allowing those who best understand university operations to have greater influence, the Government could help to improve the quality of higher education. This is the view of Inger Enkvist, Professor of Spanish at LU, in an op-ed in Svenska Dagbladet. “Universities could become the next crisis area in the Swedish education system. To mention just one worrying trend, expenditure for areas other than teaching and research is rising rapidly and unfortunately this is accepted by university boards, on which teaching and research staff are in a minority”, she writes.
Higher education news
Newsletter monitors higher education globally
The Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) has started an international newsletter that monitors higher education in other countries. The idea is to continue the monitoring offered by the former Swedish National Agency for Higher Education in its newsletter “Internationellt om högskolan”. More information on the SUHF website