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News from the University management 7 September

On the management’s agenda

Ethics council established at LU

"On 21 September, the newly formed ethics council at Lund University will convene for the first time (more information on this will be forthcoming). The council's task is to highlight ethical issues within research but also in education, in the work environment and finance. The council consists of people with long professional experience within and beyond the University and with a strong interest in ethical issues. It will be chaired by pro vice-chancellor Bo Ahrén", writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. The issue is extremely topical, not least since the investigation into the Macchiarini affair at KI revealed serious shortcomings, specifically on ethical standpoints. "Now this disaster has befallen Karolinska institutet, but assessments with potentially grave consequences are made on a daily basis at every University, including ours" writes the vice-chancellor who, together with Bo Ahrén, has written an opinion piece on the importance of ethical awareness.

Now work on gender mainstreaming is to be developed

The University management received a visit from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research which, over the coming year, will support the drafting of a plan for the development of gender mainstreaming. The plan is to contain development needs, goals and activities which we intend to implement during 2017–2019 and will describe how gender equality is to be integrated and to become part of the University’s regular activities. “I think the meeting was inspiring, despite the fact that the questions under discussion are elusive because the processes which lead to inequalities in a workplace are often unconscious. We arrived at the conclusion that not everything can be analysed at once. Our board decision in June, which highlighted procedures for the recruitment of academic teaching staff and widening participation/recruitment, represents a reasonable level of ambition and has the potential for concrete change”, writes vice-chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog.

Developing career paths is a priority

“I have often said that our study programmes must have a strong connection to research. A university should not be a research institute which only has researchers and no students” writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. A major problem today is that it is difficult for teaching staff to find time for research. Increased direct government funding and greater opportunities to allocate resources between research and education would facilitate this. Currently, many appointments are initiated via the research councils, and their grants cover research but not teaching duties. These employees do not have the same opportunities for promotion and acquisition of qualifications through teaching as other academic staff; thus they ‟risk becoming second-class employees and the University risks missing out on the long term commitment of these researchers because they feel insufficiently supported by the University”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz, who aims to raise the status of teaching.

E-learning is a high priority issue

“The students’ unions have drawn the attention of the management to the fact that the introduction of digital learning is patchy and proceeding far too slowly”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. He now wants us ‟to take a broad and major step forward in digital learning so that the opportunities benefit all students”. He writes that teaching staff in many parts of the University have paved the way with their enthusiasm for digital development. But this needs to be extended. “When direct government funding for education does not develop abreast of costs, we must find new ways to maximise the use of contact hours in classes/lectures”, writes the vice-chancellor, who sees e-learning as a high priority issue.

Cooperation is needed to solve the student housing problem

A new semester also brings a need for student housing. Even though the housing situation has improved somewhat in recent years, much still remains to be done, writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. “We know that one of the success factors for the University and for students’ study results is the chance for students to have adequate and secure accommodation during their studies”, he continues. In Lund, Bopoolen acts as an agency for student apartments. 900 new apartments have been built over the past five years and a further 1000 are planned for the next few years. Meanwhile, new ideas are needed. One such innovative idea is BoKompakt, AF Bostäder’s micro-apartments, which were completed in 2014 and have now been positively reviewed in an evaluation.

“Humanities and social sciences have never been more important than today”

Torbjörn von Schantz reports in his blog that he is very concerned about the development towards populism in our time, and the success of authoritarian and xenophobic political parties. This applies not least to the American presidential election campaign in which Donald Trump has gained many sympathisers. “To conduct research and educate students in humanities and social sciences has never felt more important than now”, writes the vice-chancellor. He thinks that the democratic systems are facing difficult and as yet untested challenges. “This is where the broad range University comes in. The emergence of populism and short term political agendas makes the universities more important than ever. This is about the major and broad responsibility and mission we have to educate students. They are not merely to learn a profession, get a job and start working in accordance with the needs of the labour market. They must also become educated, learn to analyse, think critically and independently, be able to distinguish fact from belief”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz.

LU News

What LU news do you want? New employee survey underway

At the end of September, Lund University will send out a survey to all LU employees, via TNS Sifo. It contains specific questions on our university-wide channels, including LUM, and more open questions on what you would like to read about and how you wish to access the material. The results of the survey will be used to develop and improve the way in which LU communicates information, mainly to employees within the University. The survey is coordinated by Corporate Communications, which will subsequently present the survey findings. All responses will be treated confidentially. You will receive further information together with your invitation to take part in the survey.

Welcome day for new employees

On 26 October there will be a welcome day for all new non-Swedish speaking employees. Over a half day event, Lund University will present its vision, organisation and activities to new employees. The event will conclude with a lunch for all participants. Read more about it on the Staff Pages http://www.staff.lu.se/article/welcome-day-for-new-employees-26-october

Panel debate on populists

One in five voters in Europe votes for an authoritarian and populist party. And in the US, the next president could be Donald Trump. How did we end up here? Are the voters misled victims? Does their dissatisfaction depend on economic injustice? Or has the dormant dark side of humanity come to life? These are questions which will be discussed in Debate in Lund on 8 September.

LU welcomes the opportunity for universities to offer MOOCs

The University’s consultation response to a proposal for a special ordinance governing MOOCs was positive. LU welcomes the opportunity, but not the obligation, for universities to offer MOOCs. However, LU was critical of the proposal to set funding aside for MOOCs. Instead, the University would like to see support for e-learning as a whole, available to all universities. And if such an investment is to be made, new funding must be raised rather than relying on reallocation of existing funds within higher education. The financial situation of universities, especially with regard to education, is already strained.  

Higher education news

SULF does not want to consider MOOCs as a separate form of education

In its consultation response to a report on MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), the Swedish Association of University Teachers (SULF) is critical of several points, and rejects the proposal to make MOOCs into a separate form of education. SULF also rejects the proposed constitutional support and new ordinance for MOOCs as SULF does not think that government funding should be used for yet another form of education, namely MOOCs. “SULF has no objection in principle to universities developing open online courses. But if the government decides to create a special ordinance for MOOCs and consider them a separate form of education, it will inevitably pull resources away from regular higher education. University lecturers already work unremunerated extra hours to meet the needs of students, so it is not reasonable to further increase their workload” they write.

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