Newsletter from the University management 1 October
On the management’s agenda
The government’s budget for the education sector is erratic and fragmentary
“What we need are solid and stable increases to undergraduate education, not temporary investments. I am sure that anyone can understand how difficult it will be to implement quality enhancement in the short term, which must also be evaluated in the space of a few years”, vice-chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz writes in his blog about the government’s budget for the coming year. He notes that the government has changed its previously specified conditions and that the investments made are temporary, despite promises of longevity and stability. This not only applies to the quality investments in the humanities and theology, social sciences, law, and the teacher training programme, but also to the change in direction with regard to reinforced research funding which will result in less money for LU. “It is disturbing and contradictory that the government – that speaks warmly of long term investments and even wants the forthcoming research bill to have a ten-year perspective – at the same time completely changes the conditions for us without warning”, writes the vice-chancellor.
“I am very proud – but not thanks to the ranking list”
The other week, QS published their ranking of the best universities in the world and today Times Higher Education published theirs. In both cases, Lund University ended up in the top 100. Vice-chancellor Torbjörn von Schantz writes in his blog that rankings often have a major impact both in Sweden and internationally, and that they are important instruments for the marketing of LU. Meanwhile, he finds the methodology to be questionable and that the results do not say much about the quality of a university, and says: “I am extremely proud of Lund University and our achievements, for example, the fact that we attract competitive research grants or that we conduct education at the highest level. But I am proud regardless if we one year are ranked number 70 and next year number 60, and on another list we end up outside the top 100. A new ranking list will be published next week, and if we were to receive a lower ranking than the week before, I will be as proud of Lund University as I am today”.
Increased basic funding necessary to provide good support for researchers
After reading an article by the director general of the Swedish Research Council (VR) Sven Stafström, Torbjörn von Schantz writes in his blog that VR does not really seem to “see the causes behind the problems when it comes to providing junior researchers with good career opportunities and to the departments’ ability to provide researchers with good support”. He finds that the way to increase responsibility for the researchers, and to ensure the long term development of higher education institutions, is to increase basic funding. “When the initial contribution is too small, and too much of our research is funded by external parties, it creates problems – real problems that our junior researchers are facing today. The risk is that our own funding gets tied up in co-financing to support researchers who have received funding from outside the University. Higher education institutions must be able to take the lead in recruiting and thereby taking into account both research excellence and the educational needs. By increasing the basic funding we would regain this ability”, writes the vice-chancellor.
Conference on the universities’ strategy within research and education
Future Faculty, an association of junior researchers at the Faculty of Medicine and their national network, is organising a conference with the title “Are Swedish universities applying the right strategy in research and education?” Participants include the Swedish Minister of Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson, and vice-chancellor of Uppsala University Eva Åkesson. The conference will be held on 23 October and is open to the public. Learn more and register for the event on www.med.lu.se/national_strategy
Inauguration of new professors
This year’s second inauguration of new professors will take place on 16 October. During this ceremony 11 professors will be inaugurated.
Open house at the faculties of Law and Biology
On Saturday the Faculty of Law will have an open house in connection with Law Day. The day will include popular science lectures, guided tours, moot courts with judges and students, and advice from study advisors. This day is also Biology Day at the Faculty of Science, which will include a biology show, lectures, an opportunity to receive help with mushroom identification and a chance to look through a microscope and see “gross” animals. Learn more on the website of the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Biology
Higher education news
Fewer applicants to higher education
In an analysis of the developments in autumn admissions to higher education, the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR) finds that after six years of increase, the number of applicants decreased by one per cent in autumn 2015. Meanwhile, the analysis shows that a greater proportion of 19-year-olds are admitted to higher education – in other words, more people who apply based on their upper-secondary school degree are admitted, compared to last year. Overall, admission is less competitive. A quarter of the total of 19 000 courses and programmes had at least one applicant placed on a waiting list. Competition is the greatest for first cycle programmes – 62 per cent – and least for second cycle courses – 12 per cent. Read more on UHR’s website
“Sweden’s share of ERC funding is decreasing”
The allocation from the European Research Council is decreasing and reduces Sweden’s share of funding that has so far been allocated by the EU programme Horizon 2020. Sweden received close to 3.6 per cent (SEK 2.5 billion) of the SEK 70 billion allocated, which is less than before. According to Curie, the previous framework programme allocated about 4 per cent to Sweden. One explanation is that the competition has increased in connection with many of the EU countries cutting down on their own research budgets. The fact that ERC funding – aimed at cutting-edge research – is decreasing remains unexplained. Of the 743 researchers who received funding, only 16 researchers were linked to Swedish higher education institutions.
Still few tuition fee paying students
The Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) reports that although the number of paying students from outside the EU/EEA continues to increase, the level is still low compared with 2011, when tuition fees were introduced. The report also shows that the proportion of women is low – 42 per cent of the so-called free mover (non-exchange) students. This can be compared to 54 per cent of non-paying free mover students; 53 per cent of exchange students; and 60 per cent of Swedish students. In addition, the proportion of female tuition fee paying students is decreasing, which goes against the trend in general which is showing an increase in the proportion of women.