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News from the University Management 22 December

On the management’s agenda

Best wishes for a very merry Christmas and a happy new year from all of us at the University management!

The 350th anniversary celebrations are finally underway

On Monday 19 December, the jubilee celebrations were officially launched and will continue through the whole of next year and into 2018 with a rich programme of events. “The jubilee year is an excellent opportunity to see the fantastic development the University has undergone over the centuries. It is also a chance to feel proud and to show off everything that has made us one of today’s world-leading universities. But a jubilee year also provides us with an opportunity to stop and think about how we will develop in the future. By chance, our new strategic plan for the next ten years coincides with the jubilee year 2017. But history and the future are connected. Panta rei. Everything is in movement”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog.
Eva Wiberg also mentions the jubilee and, not least, the special issue postage stamps as well as the recently published jubilee book. Read more in her blog

A tribute to free research

Torbjörn von Schantz was one of those who got the chance to take part in the Nobel Prize celebrations and he wrote about the experience in his blog: “What struck me when I sat listening to the speeches of the Nobel Prize winners was that the event was not only a tribute to research and research progress – but a tribute to free research. Penicillin and x-rays – none of that would ever had seen the light without curiosity-driven research and free basic research”. He is worried about current challenges to the expertise and structures of academia which enable free research. “Research progress does not come to order, whether from politicians or industry. We need to safeguard our way of doing things, we need to safeguard our autonomy. The day our research has as its objective to support short-term political agendas or provide industry with new, profitable inventions is the day we lose the most important condition for new scientific breakthroughs, namely the diversity of new knowledge generated by free research”, he writes.

The strategic plan has been approved by the board

The University board recently approved the University’s strategic plan for the next ten years, which highlights a number of priority areas. “Now that the plan has been adopted, it will be followed by a number of action plans for which each faculty is responsible. We will also check the plan at regular intervals to see how the work is progressing or whether new or different needs arise. The strategic plan will also constitute an important basis for work on future activity plans and budgets”, writes the vice-chancellor in his blog.

The study of human rights requires interdisciplinarity

Some time ago, a new collaboration was launched between the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and Lund University on the subject of human rights. “The new hub formed by the collaboration also makes it clear that human rights span across a large number of subjects – from medicine to philosophy. I have said it before but it is worth repeating: it is the University’s disciplinary breadth and interdisciplinarity which enables us to tackle the major societal challenges we are facing”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog.

“The Government has announced freedom but does the opposite”

In its research bill, the Government has listened to demands for an increase in direct government funding and for long-term plans, with a proposal which runs over ten years and includes increased funding. But the outlook is not all rosy. “The Government has announced that it wishes to safeguard free research but, instead, its actions contradict this principle. They state what we are to research and how this is to happen (above all through external engagement)”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz, whose fears that research and education are becoming politicised are confirmed. “As far as I know, there is no data to indicate that state control of research priorities has ever reinforced any country’s innovation success or growth”, continues the vice-chancellor.

Thank you for your work over the past year – we are ready for the future

“The past year has been unusual. We seem to have entered a new era in geopolitics and we are facing a time which is unpredictable in many ways - insofar as the future can ever be predictable at all. For the University, too, 2016 has been an unusual year, but all the more interesting and engaging. We had the inauguration of the MAX IV facility. A research bill has been presented and we have finalised both our strategic plan and our research strategy. Moreover, we have started the jubilee celebrations, which will continue over the whole of the coming year. We are ready for the future!” writes the vice-chancellor in his blog, also taking the opportunity to wish everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

LU news

The jubilee is now underway

On Monday, the 350th anniversary celebrations were officially inaugurated. On the occasion, the extensive jubilee programme was also presented, compiling the activities and events that await us over the next 13 months. Download the programme here (10 MB, PDF)

Higher education news

A new EU group is to analyse research and innovation initiatives

The EU Commission has appointed a high-level group of twelve people who are to draw up a vision for the future of the EU’s research and innovation initiatives. The group is to provide strategic recommendations for how to maximise the effects of the EU research programme Horizon 2020, writes the Association of Swedish Higher Education in its international newsletter. The vision is to be ready by June next year.

“Let researchers alternate between academia and industry”

In an opinion piece in Dagens Samhälle, Gunilla Westergren-Thorsson and Roland Andersson, respectively the dean and vice dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Ebba Foreaus, board member at the same faculty, and innovation director Linus Wiebe wrote about the importance for researchers to have the right conditions to maintain a balance between global and national societal challenges and free research. The Government’s research bill emphasises the importance of external engagement. “A highly flexible boundary between higher education institutions and society is needed, which allows researchers to be simultaneously present in both worlds. It must be possible to start and run a company alongside research, at the same time as it must be a given that researchers who choose to take their findings out into wider society can still keep one foot in the University”, they write, continuing: “To achieve this, the current system of evaluating qualifications must undergo fundamental change. Sitting on a company board or writing a business plan must count as a qualification of equal value to laboratory experience or writing a research article. This is not the case today”.

Cut-backs in public funding threaten innovations

“Public spending in the OECD countries on research and development (R&D) fell in 2014 for the first time since 1981, when records began. The countries in which the R&D budget dropped included Australia, France, Israel, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany and the USA. The downturn could threaten innovations in a time when global challenges require solutions. This emerges from an OECD report”, writes the Association of Swedish Higher Education in its international newsletter. The OECD sees a tendency among governments to shift the balance more towards the private sector. “This is happening through the creation of fiscal incentives for R&D in companies. One possible effect could be that funding is directed towards fields most likely to result in the emergence of new products and new profits, instead of towards basic research. R&D in companies tends to prioritise development above pure research, according to the report”.

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