News from the university management 17 June
On the management’s agenda
Shaping a new research strategy
During the spring, the research board worked intensively to draw up a new research strategy for LU and to work out a position in view of the forthcoming research bill, wrote Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. “Strategies and target documents are important to provide a long term perspective and stable activities through both ups and downs. We do not want to take a back seat and wait for the government to communicate its proposal; on the contrary, we should take the initiative for how best to run and develop research at Lund University, nationally and internationally”, he wrote, emphasising the “major future challenges such as health, food supply, climate, environment and sustainability, energy and migration” as important issues.
“A societal agent like Lund University has a great responsibility”
The interest group Fossil Free has called on LU’s board to prohibit investment by the donations administration in funds which include companies in the gas and oil industries, for example. “Reform work is already currently underway”, wrote the vice-chancellor in his blog. It is a question of acquiring an environmental profile and the University is already following the OECD guidelines and the UN’s Global Compact. The proposal is now to ensure that the investment of capital from donations bound to a particular purpose “should work towards a transition to placements with a minimum of fossil fuels or none at all. This is to be done gradually over a five-year period, as the market develops within this area”. At the same time, a public sector organisation such as LU cannot act hastily and without due consideration, only on the basis of what individual pressure groups want. “A societal agent like Lund University has a great responsibility and must take many people into account on various issues. What is deemed right by some can be rejected by others. Decisions must always be supported and taken in a long term perspective”, wrote Torbjörn von Schantz.
New assignments in the management
In his blog, Torbjörn von Schantz wrote about the importance of the deans participating more and taking greater responsibility for the management of the University. As a step in achieving “even closer communication within the vice-chancellor’s management council (the deans are to get information on important events more promptly and the vice-chancellor’s office needs to get faster input for important proposals for decisions), Torun Forslid, currently head of the faculty office at the Faculty of Science, will now become advisor to the vice-chancellor. In that role, she will work on reinforcing cooperation within the vice-chancellor’s management council, as well as increasing support to the vice-chancellor’s group on higher education policy issues”, he wrote. Further changes to the management group include the deputy vice-chancellor Eva Wiberg increasing the work she does as director of U21, thereby reducing by half her duties as deputy vice-chancellor. Pro vice-chancellor Stacey Sörensen will increase her working hours and take special responsibility for research as well as for research infrastructure. Bo Ahrén will also increase his working hours and his external engagement duties now include the drafting of a new strategic plan. Bo-Anders Jönsson, pro dean at the Faculty of Science, has been entrusted with research studies issues in his role as advisor to the vice-chancellor.
New chair of the board for Gerdahallen
During Friday’s university board meeting, it was decided that Erwin Apitzsch, senior lecturer specialising in sport psychology, would be appointed as the new chair of the board of Gerdahallen (Lund University’s sports facility) as of 1 July.
“The accumulation of funds is a cause for concern”
Direct government funding of research in Swedish higher education institutions has increased steadily in recent years. The tendency for this funding to remain unused is growing as well, according to an article in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. Torbjörn von Schantz is among those speaking out about the problem of the unused SEK 17 million around Sweden earmarked for research. In 2014, LU had SEK 3.3 billion in excess. “It is a cause for concern that these funds are being accumulated” he said, but he also believes that the problem can be solved: “We can do something about this by creating greater security. The minister is talking about longer budget cycles. I believe this is exactly what is required for university staff not to feel that they need these gigantic margins”, he says.
Broad programme during Almedalen week
As usual, LU is taking part in Almedalen week in Visby with several events. Most of them will take place in the University’s venue at Hästgatan 13, and in addition, many LU researchers will participate in the programmes of other event organisers.
Time to deliver legal deposit copies of e-material
Since the start of this year, LU is legally obliged to hold electronic publications according to the Swedish law on legal deposit of electronic material, although the University has been granted a deferment until the autumn. The law on the legal deposit of electronic material states that as of 1 January 2015, publishers who have produced digital material for the general public are to deliver it to the National Library of Sweden (KB). The University Library (UB) has been entrusted with developing a technical system capable of receiving and delivering material other than research publications to the National Library of Sweden. This is to be ready in the autumn and in September, according to the plans, it shall be possible to upload material covered by the legal deposit law for e-material.
“After PISA schools – we now have PISA universities”
The question of the quality of education is constantly in the news, not least since the latest PISA study showed bad results in Swedish schools. Mats Alvesson, organisational researcher at LU, wrote an opinion piece in Expressen about the shortcomings extending to universities. He aims his criticisms mainly at the government’s investment in more university places. “The quantitative expansion has negative effects on learning and qualifications. Prior knowledge and interest are often weak. After PISA schools – school results which are dropping and low in comparison to those in other countries – we will now have PISA universities”, he wrote. In his view, universities are overdeveloped: “Higher education is less about qualifications and more about disguised management of unemployment”.
Higher education news
New international strategy for higher education proposed
The Swedish Institute, the Association of Swedish Higher Education, the Swedish Higher Education Authority and the Swedish Council for Higher Education propose the drafting of a new international strategy for higher education in a written communication to the Ministry of Education and Research. The reason is that there have been major changes in the surrounding world and within higher education in Sweden. The four public authorities want the “new strategy to support the internationalisation work of the higher education institutions, but also to clarify the roles and responsibilities of other public authorities and organisations in the work”.
Swedish Research Council wants independent authority on research fraud
The Swedish Research Council wants the government to set up an independent public authority to review fraud in research, wrote director general Sven Stafström and Nils-Eric Sahlin, chair of the Swedish Research Council’s expert group on ethics, in an opinion piece in Svenska Dagbladet. They consider that Sweden currently lacks a legally failsafe national system for handling research fraud.
The Swedish Higher Education Authority’s annual report for 2015 is out
Every year, the Swedish Higher Education Authority produces a report which provides an overview of the Swedish higher education sector. The 2015 report is now published; it includes trends within the higher education sector and a series of statistics from various sources. One observation was that discrepancies in salary between men and women remain large. Another new report describes and analyses the system of allocation of research funding on the basis of performance.