News from the University Management 29 November
On the management’s agenda
“Leadership and governance in academia are visible from within and from outside”
“It is quite clearly a challenge to be an academic leader. In certain cases, we are controlled by the government’s rather heavy-handed directives […]. Sometimes it can be about introducing new directives to the organization, such as gender equality on all levels”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. He writes that many within academia perceive line management as “new public management”, which they find objectionable. They think that academia should be governed by collegiality and autonomy. The vice-chancellor mentions two reports which both show that Swedish higher education institutions are often characterised by weak leadership combining line management with collegial control. At the same time, he observes that it may be no coincidence that both reports have links to business and industry. “It is not surprising that business and industry are interested in academic leadership. The boundaries between business and academia are fluid, not least through the cooperation so common today, in which both worlds must meet and function together”, writes the vice-chancellor, continuing: “Classic line organisations with business-like goals meet collegial leadership at this point of intersection. I see advantages and disadvantages to both systems of governance and I believe we can find a model which combines the best of both worlds […]”.
Focus on quality assurance and new members in LERU
The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) recently held a meeting on the upcoming evaluations of Swedish higher education. The new evaluations will focus on how well the higher education institutions conduct their quality assurance and develop education at all levels in a systematic manner, writes Eva Wiberg in her blog. In a first step, starting in 2017, the focus will be on research studies and in 2020 Lund University will undergo a complete evaluation of its internal quality assurance system. ‟We will get to show how our methods for quality assurance result in high quality and how they contribute to the development of quality”, writes the deputy vice-chancellor in her blog, continuing: ‟All together, this national model for quality assurance is in line with international (European) development, which is very satisfying as it facilitates partnerships with other countries and institutions”.
Eva Wiberg has also been to a LERU (League of European Research Universities) Rectors’ Assembly in Heidelberg. At the meeting, the League decided to welcome two new members, the University of Copenhagen and Trinity College Dublin. Read more in the deputy vice-chancellor’s blog here and here
Specialised centres could be test beds for new activities
The management is currently reviewing the activities in the University’s specialised centres, (USV). They comprise a broad range of different specialisations with interdisciplinary collaborations. In his blog, the vice-chancellor writes that several of these centres are flagships for the University and conduct very successful research. ‟We often have discussions about how best to run research and cooperation, and in what form. The faculties represent the basis of our organisation and we are committed to ensuring that research and education are intertwined, a notion that is also emphasised in the next strategic plan”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz. The faculties have structures for funding, and boards for quality assurance of elements such as study programmes and academic appointments, which the specialised centres lack. ‟Organisations which conduct long term research and education therefore benefit greatly from being part of a faculty” writes the vice-chancellor, continuing: ‟At the same time, we need test beds for new activities or collaborations which have not yet found their exact form or which are to be run as projects with fixed-term funding. Here the specialised centres can fulfil a vital function” he writes, putting forward the idea of allowing the centres to be a test bed for interdisciplinarity and new research collaborations for a limited period of time.
Cooperation is to contribute to improving the world
A new president in the US, Brexit and other major events which are potentially big steps on the path to a new era in global politics: Torbjörn von Schantz has reason to ponder what this will mean for the University’s collaborations and exchanges. ‟I don’t believe that isolating oneself and shutting out the world is a success factor on any level. So I am happy that we are working on further reinforcement of our collaboration and exchange with the world around us”, he writes in his blog. He considers it obvious that research in cooperation with external partners is an important factor for building solutions for the future and improving human living conditions all over the world. ‟By putting research to good use, we can help to generate growth and benefit society. Therefore it is important to encourage and reward innovative ideas in our employees and students”, writes the vice-chancellor. One example of this is an initiative started by the University through LU Innovation together with Sparbanksstiftelsen Finn: a newly established award totalling SEK 200 000 kronor for ideas that could lead to future innovations.
Christmas concert for LU employees
On 16 December the Academy of Music will hold its annual Christmas concert in Lund cathedral. There will be Christmas music with a large choir, chamber choir, symphony orchestra, ensembles and soloists under the direction of choral professor Fredrik Malmberg. Everyone is welcome. Entrance is free. Read more about how to obtain tickets
Give feedback on the new environmental goals with action plans by 16 December
All information is available on the project’s website, in case you have not seen the document circulated for consultation on the University’s environmental goals for the next three years. An English translation of the consultation document will also be available shortly on the project website. Four working groups within the areas of “business travel by plane”, “purchasing, procurement and the supply chain”, “chemicals” and “premises” have produced proposals for goals and activities on which employees and students can now give feedback. A decision is planned for March 2017.
350th anniversary jubilee gets underway
19 December is the inauguration date for the University’s 350th anniversary celebrations and the complete programme will be presented on that day. The inauguration will include a Jubilee frenzy in the main University building, to which everyone is invited. Read more on the jubilee website
Higher education news
Increased direct government funding in the research policy bill
Today the Minister for Higher Education and Research, Helene Hellmark Knutsson, presented the Government’s research policy bill Knowledge in Collaboration – for Society’s Challenges and Increased Competitiveness. “Direct government funding for higher education institutions is raised by SEK 1.3 billion up to 2020. The Government’s goal with this increase is not to fund a greater number of researchers. The purpose is to increase quality and to provide more space for research within existing employment positions, along with a clear career structure”, writes the minister on DN Debatt.
Nominators for external members appointed
The government has taken the decision to appoint 55 nominators for higher education institutions. These people, two for each higher education institution, are tasked with drawing up proposals for external board members for higher education institutions for the government. For Lund University, former director general Inger Andersson (convener) and former university chancellor Lars Haikola have been appointed as nominators.
Uncertain future for British research without the EU
There is great concern among British researchers in view of the country’s planned exit from the EU. British research receives major grants from the EU and the free movement of labour facilitates the recruitment of top researchers from all over Europe. Swedish-British collaborations could also be affected, according to the Swedish Research Council’s online magazine Tidningen Curie. After Germany, Great Britain is the most common collaboration partner for research teams within the EU Horizon 2020 programme.
Increasing numbers of PhD graduates – except in the humanities
Since 1973 the number of PhD graduates has increased fourfold. Within most fields, the number of PhDs has increased considerably, except in the humanities where the number has instead been almost halved. This emerges from statistics compiled by the Swedish Higher Education Authority and quoted by Universitetsläraren, the magazine of the Swedish Association of University Teachers and Researchers, SULF. ‟In the gender distribution of the proportion of PhD graduates, much has happened since 1973. At that time, women made up 21 per cent of doctoral students and only 12 per cent of PhD graduates. From 1995, the gender distribution among doctoral students has been within the so-called gender equality interval of 40–60, when considering research studies as a whole”, writes Universitetsläraren.