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Newsletter from the University management 16 November

On the management’s agenda

Our thoughts go out to the victims and their families in Paris

The horrific news from Paris about the brutal terror attacks against innocent people affect us all. Our deepest thoughts and condolences go out to all those who were killed or injured, as well as their families and friends. Our thoughts also go out to the French people, to all of our colleagues in France, to our students and employees who are currently in France, and to our French students and colleagues here in Lund, writes Deputy Vice-Chancellor Eva Wiberg in her blog. A one-minute moment of silence was held at the University today, to commemorate the victims and to protest against the increased threats and attacks that threaten the fundamental values ​​of our society. Eva Wiberg continues by writing that we must always fight for freedom of speech and religion, and that universities are important in this work for change. Wherever we come from, we need to see to it that we as a university can stand up for changes in mentality, towards democratic values, in the places where they are at risk. Read more in the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s blog and here

“The refugee issue also concerns us”

“During the ongoing refugee crisis, we need to mobilise all forces to receive the people who come to Sweden”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. “At the University, staff and students have engaged themselves privately in different ways. But the University also has several initiatives and projects underway”, he writes. This includes the opportunity to take a leave of absence to help the Swedish Migration Board, and Korta vägen (the Shortcut) – a project aimed at newcomers who hold university degrees. Within the framework of Korta vägen there are also plans to offer employed research, teaching and TA staff to become mentors to participants on the programme. In addition, LU Commissioned Education is considering the possibility of customising courses for newly arrived academics in areas where there is a demand on the labour market. “The refugee issue will be one of the largest global challenges facing us in the coming years, and as a university we must contribute with our expertise and ensure that decision-makers are provided with information based on research, as well as conduct well-supported discussions”, writes the Vice-Chancellor.

“Three out of three for innovation and collaboration”

“Last week we were informed that we have been given the highest rating (3 out of 3) for our strategic work with innovation and collaboration. An evaluation group of wide and recognised expertise at Vinnova had reviewed our application in the Pilot 1 call for applications. Out of all the universities that applied, we will receive the highest allocation – SEK 3.8 million – which is very empowering for our continued efforts to develop innovation and collaboration”, writes the Vice-Chancellor in his blog. The reasons for this success are many, but a major contributor is the fact that LU has an external engagement council and a Pro Vice-Chancellor for external engagement. “The reviewers have also seen that our innovation and external engagement is clearly connected to the strategic plan. Vinnova’s decision is very comforting. Although I myself am confident that we are on the right track in our efforts with regard to collaboration and innovation, it’s even better to have an external panel agree”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz.

LU needs to take command of its own development

The University has submitted its contribution to the upcoming government budget bill, and in his blog the Vice-Chancellor stresses that it is vital to look forward and to have a long term approach. Rather than waiting to see what others do, it is important that “we take initiatives ourselves with regard to how education and research at Lund University and nationally/internationally are to be conducted in the best possible way”, he writes. However, being in control of one’s own development does not necessarily mean a major increase in resources, but rather a joint decision on prioritisation and governance. For several years, resources have increased, but according to Torbjörn von Schantz there has been a lack of sufficient control. “I am convinced that this model is not the best way to develop research and education at Lund University”, he writes, and emphasises that this does not mean that the operations are to be restricted or limited. He continues: “My point, however, is that I do not want us to create an environment where we are dependent on a constant increase of resources. Instead, to the same extent that we prioritise certain things, we are to be prepared to reprioritise and deprioritise”.

Collaborations with higher education institutions in Africa are now to be put into practice

Africa Day last week marked the start of a deeper and more practically oriented effort to continue the work initiated by the Lund University Africa Group. In her blog the Deputy Vice-Chancellor writes that one of the goals was to bring together researchers and students from different parts of the University to discuss different forms of boundary-crossing collaboration. Africa Day ended with a debate, which can be viewed online. Read more on the Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s blog 

LU news

Mentors wanted for international academics

Korta vägen (the Shortcut) is a labour market project which is aimed at people with a university degree or at least three years of academic studies from home. The aim is to promote their effective establishment on the labour market through additional academic training. Korta vägen is now looking for people who are able to become mentors for academics. The aim of the mentorship is for you to share your relevant knowledge and experiences to improve the conditions for the mentee’s establishment on the labour market. On 8 December there will be a briefing for those who are interested. Learn more and register on the Staff Pages 

Debate in Lund about the refugee crisis

On Thursday it is time for Debatt-i-Lund, this time on the theme “The Challenge of Migration – will it make us or break us?”. Mass migration is rapidly changing the human landscape of Europe, straining the capacities of national welfare states and weakening the cohesion of the European Union. Some people believe that migration will make our societies, others believe it will break them. The debate will present and test the arguments of both positions. The debate will be held in English. Read more on LU’s page 

The work on a new strategic plan is underway

In June 2015 the Vice-Chancellor decided to appoint a working group to lead the work to develop a new strategic plan that will apply to all of the University’s activities. More information about the work and the people who are associated with the project can be found on the LU Staff Pages. On 25 November there will be a Vice-Chancellor’s seminar where the continued work will be presented. Read more about the strategic plan and the Vice-Chancellor’s seminar here    

SEK 350 million to the University from the Swedish Research Council

The Swedish Research Council (VR) has now announced their decision on this year’s major call for applications, within many different research areas. During the next five years, LU will receive approximately SEK 350 million of the total SEK 2.7 billion allocated to higher education institutions in Sweden.

Higher education news

Drawing up the research bill

The journal Curie has studied how the work to draw up the upcoming research bill is proceeding. During the autumn, the Ministry of Education and Research will be receiving approximately 250 inputs, including from LU (see above). Apart from all the inputs, the minister of higher education and research Helene Hellmark Knutsson has appointed a research committee with a broad representation of the research community to discuss priorities with regard to research policy. “It is important to remember that the research bill is a political product. We have democratically elected cabinet ministers to pursue the policies they were elected for. They establish the guidelines for our work in the Government Offices”, says Anna Aminoff, one of the project leaders at the Ministry of Education and Research, to the journal Curie.

“Irresponsible of the government to expand higher education institutions”

“The labour market is placing increased demands on skills. For Sweden to be able to compete, we must ensure that more students graduate. But creating more study places in higher education is not the right approach”, writes Göran Arrius, Saco, and Kristin Öster, Saco Student Council, in an article in the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. They believe that the government’s investment in more places in higher education is likely to further deteriorate the quality, and that the government needs to focus on output rather than input. “In order for Sweden to maintain its position as a strong knowledge nation, the government must invest resources to enable more students to graduate. Expanding higher education institutions is the wrong way to go. Sweden needs more people to complete their studies, not more that don’t”, they write.

“Government funding for appointments and external funding for research”

“Use government funding for appointments and external funding for research. This way both the research and the work environment will improve”, writes professor of Physics at Lund University Torsten Åkesson, in an opinion piece in the journal Curie. He believes that one of the biggest problems with regard to the work environment today is that teaching staff are forced to use external funding to co-finance their own positions, and that this may have consequences on how appealing the positions are, and inhibit the will to conduct risky research. The current system “could be adjusted so that we strengthen the aspect of a national open competition for research project funding, while universities take full financial responsibility for their teaching staff positions”.

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