Newsletter from the University Management, 6 December
On the management’s agenda
“Outlooks that offer perspective”
The vice-chancellor is currently in Zimbabwe where he, among other things, attended the SANORD conference (SANORD, the Southern African–Nordic Centre that works to promote collaboration between universities in southern Africa and the Nordic region). “There are thousands of universities in Africa, but many of them are not featured in global rankings. They also suffer from a lack of doctoral students. In a country like South Africa, with a population of 50 million, there are only around 1 500 doctoral students. In light of the problems that exist as a result of war and colonialism, research is needed to build the countries’ infrastructure, health and prosperity in a sustainable way (not least environmentally)”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz who, at the same time, is struck by the threat to academic freedom that exists in several countries in southern Africa. “This trip has made me more convinced of the importance of freedom of thought and having universities be free of political control also at home in Sweden. Universities are unique public institutions. We may be unruly and difficult to deal with, but we are never to surrender to the powers that be. It is as free thinkers that universities benefit the public the most”, he continues.
“The investigation of the King’s House and the main University building continues”
The King’s House (Kungshuset) in Lund is currently under construction to be transformed into a visitor’s centre for Lund University with a front desk, museum, university shop and study places. The idea was to open the new visitor’s centre in 2019. “While this work has been going on, the main University building has been having increasing problems with dampness in the indoor environment, and an investigation by the National Property Board of Sweden [SE1] is currently underway. Many employees are experiencing discomfort from the air, and the building will probably need to be evacuated for reconstruction”, writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. In light of this, the King’s House has emerged as an alternative. “We then realised something that no one had thought of before the issue of possibly needing to empty the main University building emerged: that the projects planned for the King’s House might also work well in the main University Building. It could also be possible to incorporate suitable offices in the King’s House. We now want to examine this possibility more closely and have therefore decided to temporarily postpone the project planning of the King’s House as we await an impact assessments and further information”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz.
Innovation activities are moving forward
“Our innovation activities are doing really well at the moment. Within LU Holding – the umbrella organisation that owns the companies that have resulted from research at Lund University – twelve new companies have been formed this year (compared to six last year). The flow of ideas to the University’s commercialisation process is stronger than ever – almost 350 ideas have come in only this year”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. By the end of the year, LU Holding will have multiplied its results and show a stable profit. This means that the company now has the financial muscle required for long-term projects. The vice-chancellor writes that he believes that the success is partly attributable to a cultural shift within the University, where researchers and students to a greater extent recognise the benefits of and the desire to commercialise research and ideas. “Research and education must be free and seek knowledge – not be done to order. This does not mean that the research and knowledge generated here should stay within the University’s walls. Commercialising research is one way to reach out to society and make a difference, and, obviously, it’s particularly gratifying to see that the outside world is interested in investing and believes in our research”, writes the vice-chancellor.
“#Metoo sheds light on an untenable situation”
“Across Sweden, in one sector after another, the #metoo movement has spread and women’s many stories of harassment and sexual harassment have finally come to light. There is no doubt that this is a widespread societal problem”, writes Torbjörn von Schantz in his blog. This problem exists also within academia, in which there are structures that allow for a culture of silence. “Within the management team, we have discussed the issue on the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council and amongst ourselves. This issue must now be prioritised and we must make sure that we do what we can to prevent the problem within the University, but also that we establish good procedures for handling the reports that we receive. Not least, we need to support and encourage our colleagues and students to be brave and share their stories. We don’t know how widespread the problem actually is, and the hidden statistics are something we need to look into”, writes the vice-chancellor. Information about procedures and regulations regarding harassment must be made more easily accessible within the University (more information about this below).
“Gender equality and equal opportunities management is not an imposed ideology”
In the media, there has been a debate about the required reading on a course in political science. For example, on the editorial page of Svenska Dagbladet, Ivar Arpi was highly critical of what he argues are ideologies that take over academia like some form of “highest port of call”. “I think it’s unfortunate when gender equality and equal opportunities management – important work in which I myself am very much involved – is used as a weapon in a debate about imposed ideologies within academia”, writes the vice-chancellor in his blog. Torbjörn von Schantz believes that universities have a lot of work to do when it comes to these issues, and that it is therefore important to keep this perspective in mind. Considering why things are the way they are, and taking several perspectives into account, is not some highest port of call, but rather organisational development.
Procedures in case of harassment and sexual harassment
Lund University does not accept harassment and sexual harassment within the organisation. As an employee, if you are subjected to unwelcome behaviour, or if you witness what you perceive to be unwelcome behaviour, go to the Staff Pages and find advice on what you should do. If you are an employee and you feel that you have been subjected to sexual harassment at Lund University, you can report the incident to your manager. If this is not possible, you can contact the next level of management, such as the dean or equivalent. Your manager (or your manager’s manager according to the delegation rules) is obliged to start an investigation into the incident. Read more on the Staff Pages
This year’s recipients of Lund University’s Administrative Prize
Lund University’s Administrative Prize is annually awarded for outstanding and innovative administrative work that contributes to the University’s development, or for extraordinary service and efficiency. Study administrator Jessica Carlsson, Department of History, and policy officer Tobias Nilsson, Office of the Faculty of Science, are awarded Lund University’s Administrative Prize for 2018. Read more on the Staff Pages
Higher education news
Many EU researchers may leave Great Britain due to Brexit
There is a major risk that many researchers from the EU will leave Great Britain on account of Brexit. They lack information about their opportunities for staying in the country. This was shown in a report from the British Academy. British universities have previously warned that many skilled lecturers and researchers from the EU will leave the country. Now the British Academy calls attention to the risks of these major uncertainties regarding the possibility of staying. In its international newsletter, the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) writes: “Worst off are the language and economics subjects at British universities, in which about a third of the lecturers are from the EU. These subjects are followed by mathematics, physics, classics and chemical engineering in which just below one-third of the lecturers are from the EU. In political science and international relations, one in four lecturers are from the EU; in certain subjects, the number is one in two in some regions. The situation is particularly acute in Northern Ireland. There, a quarter of all lecturers are from an EU country.”
Pilot review of quality assurance complete
In a pilot study, the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ) has reviewed how higher education institutions work internally with quality assurance of their activities. “Our biggest challenge has been to capture how higher education institutions work systematically with quality assurance. We will now be applying the method to our regular audits”, says Karin Järplid Linde, head of UKÄ’s evaluation department, in a press release. By 2022 all Swedish higher education institutions will have undergone this review. The quality assurance system includes four different types of reviews. An important experience from the pilot study is about achieving a good balance between all four. Another important issue concerns how the method is to capture the systematic quality assurance work performed by higher education institutions. So far, the method has not been entirely successful in this regard. “The adjustments we are currently making have a major focus on this. We want to capture the systematics – how do we do that in a better way?”, says Karin Järplid Linde.