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News from the university management 2 June

On the management’s agenda

A milestone for the MAX IV project

On Monday the vice-chancellor received the keys to the MAX IV facility, approximately one year ahead of its inauguration. “MAX IV has become a landmark of which we can be proud. The facility has been completed three months before the appointed time and in addition, turned out to be15 per cent cheaper than predicted. As vice-chancellor, it is a real pleasure to receive these keys under such ‘fortunate’ circumstances”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. Now the University, through MAX IV, will take over and administrate the premises. “As of now, it is our responsibility to fill these prize-winning premises with activities and cutting-edge research within physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and materials sciences. We will ensure that we deliver world-leading research for a long time to come”, continues the vice-chancellor.

“May – a month of strategic meetings”

During the month of May, Eva Wiberg took part in two important network meetings. The first was U21’s annual ‘Presidents’ meeting and general meeting’ in Chile. “It was very rewarding for me to attend for the first time both as deputy vice-chancellor and as director general of U21”, writes Eva Wiberg in her blog. She emphasises that U21 is in the process of shifting its approach towards a strong academic focus with careful monitoring of the major challenges ahead. One week later, LERU (the League of European Research Universities) held its Rectors’ Assembly in Geneva, where the organisation raised its international profile by launching a close collaboration with the UN. Read more on the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog

Co-financing and allocation of basic grants important issues to solve 

Among the issues discussed last week at the vice-chancellor’s management council away day was how to arrange co-financing when it is required by external funders to the University. In his blog, Torbjörn von Schantz writes: “We must find a sustainable, common solution for co-financing and we made good progress in our discussions during the away day. Above all, this is about how to divide the allocation of co-financing between the central and faculty levels”. Precisely how this is to work is not yet clear, but the vice-chancellor’s objective is to “find a solution based on trust amongst the faculties as well as between the faculties and the central level”.
Another issue under discussion is the allocation of resources from direct government funding. Next year, there will be approximately SEK 35 million in additional funds to allocate to the faculties. Opinions differ within the vice-chancellor’s management council, but “as vice-chancellor, my most important task is to safeguard the broad University”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz.

New exchange agreement with University PUC-Chile

Eva Wiberg has been in Chile for the annual meeting of the U21 network. In connection with the visit, the delegation also met LU’s partner institution, University PUC-Chile, where the deputy vice-chancellor signed a bilateral exchange agreement applicable to both students and staff. Read more in the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog 

The University needs both breadth and specialisation

“I don’t really like sports metaphors but I’m going to use one now: a well-functioning University is like a Champions League club which recruits international stars to play in the top division but also makes sure to cultivate new home-grown talent, which either develops within the club team itself or moves on to something else beyond the home arena”, writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. In his view, Swedish universities cannot compare themselves to elite universities in the US or Germany, nor are the models on which they are based anything to go by. He makes the comparison with the Max Planck Institute in Germany, for example, which invests large amounts of resources into recruiting top researchers from other countries. “But they mainly survive on recruiting new human capital from abroad. And in what way does the institute’s knowledge then benefit the country’s students? Who in the German system takes responsibility for raising the level of education in the country, producing highly skilled students and thereby future decision-makers? Not unreasonably, taxpayers want not only new research findings for their money but also well-educated citizens”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz

LU News

Major investment in basic research

The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is making a major investment in basic research to foster a technology shift which many describe as the fourth industrial revolution. The investment concerns autonomous systems capable of controlling everything from smart energy to resource-efficient transport or forming a qualified basis for decision-making in rescue operations in disaster-struck areas. LU is taking part together with KTH, Chalmers and Linköping University in the ten-year investment of a total of SEK 1.8 billion into the Wallenberg Autonomous Systems Programme, WASP

See pictures from the doctoral degree conferment ceremony 

Friday was the highlight of the University’s academic calendar, as it celebrated 208 new doctoral graduates together with 18 honorary doctors. In addition, the ceremony honoured 19 doctors who graduated 50 years ago as jubilee doctors. See photos from the degree conferment ceremony here

More equal gender distribution among doctoral students

The gender distribution among doctoral students has evened out in recent years. But the reason is not an increase in the number of women, but rather that the total number of doctoral students dropped between 2013 and 2015. An article in Lundagård student newspaper refers to a report produced by the gender equality group in the Lund Doctoral Students’ Union. As the number of women has remained steady, the percentage distribution between men and women has evened out.

Higher education news

“More resources are needed to raise the quality of education”

“An injection of SEK four billion is required in this term of office in order to compensate for the undermining effect of the past ten years”, says Harriet Wallberg, head of the Swedish Higher Education Authority, in an interview in daily newspaper SvD. She made her remarks in relation to a report produced by the Swedish Higher Education Authority which follows up on the increased funding levels within the fields of humanities, social sciences, theology and law which the government implemented in 2012–13, with the aim of reinforcing the quality of degree programmes in these fields. But in many cases the additional government money has not led to improvements. “Many higher education institutions think that, in practice, the quality enhancement funds for the fields of humanities, social sciences, theology and law have merely compensated for cuts and increased costs in other areas, so the operation has become a zero-sum game”, says Harriet Wallberg on the Authority’s website.

“More study places do not create fair higher education”

“Teaching quality varies between universities and university colleges. Students with a non-academic background get the worst quality. One conclusion is that it is more important to increase quality than to increase the number of study places. This is why the Riksdag should refuse the government’s proposal to create a further 14 300 higher education study places”, writes SACO in a report. According to SACO, it is not right to further expand higher education as long as the quality is not high at all institutions. “Most people are aware of the uneven recruitment to higher education, where the choice of pursuing education depends on what parents one has. But nobody is discussing uneven recruitment on the basis of the quality of the higher education institution” say SACO’s economists Linda Simonsen and Håkan Regnér.  

“Swedish research is internationally competitive”

A report from the Swedish Research Council, “Swedish research production and publication patterns in an international perspective”, shows that Sweden is in a good position with regard to citations of Swedish researchers and number of research publications produced in comparison to researchers in other countries. “It is important that Sweden is strong in international competition. The Swedish Research Council’s report shows that the claims sometimes made in the research policy debate, that Swedish research is not well cited in spite of increased funding, are simply untrue”, writes the director general of the Swedish Research Council, Sven Stafström. 

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