Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: September 2013

Last week’s visits

Last week, we received a visit from the principal of Edinburgh University, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea. He gave a talk entitled “In 2020 Online Delivery will Dominate Higher Education”. The following discussions about MOOCs and the future of education were very lively. Those of you who read the blog regularly know that the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council visited Edinburgh University last spring. Our universities have a lot in common and we intend to both broaden and deepen our cooperation.








We have also met our counterpart at SLU (the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). We do this on a regular basis to review our existing partnerships, but also to see in which new areas we can expand our collaboration. Uppsala University and SLU received a large donation from the Beijer Foundation last week. The donation was at just over SEK 30 million, spread over five years, and we are very grateful for this generous contribution.

Another interesting visit was from representatives of TICA. TICA (Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency) corresponds to SIDA (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) in Sweden and finances the Thailand Research Fund whose Royal Golden Jubilee PhD Programme manages thousands of Thai students that are studying abroad, for example at the University of Uppsala.








Last week I received an email from the Department of History, who had received a visit from a former exchange student , Craig Kelly, and his father Graeme Kelly. They are doing something they call the “Journey for Jane”, a journey to honour their sister/daughter who died under tragic circumstances in the autumn of 2011. The purpose of the trip is to support an organization that uses art and artistic activities as rehabilitation for families who have experienced the same type of traumatic events that the family goes through. The history department has made a private collection for the purpose, and will also start a blog. Learn more about a Jouney for Jane and their project here.

Recently we have been reading in our local newspaper UNT about some farmers’ discontent with the management of our land donations and Akademiförvaltningen. In the interview I promised to bring the matter to the board, which I did this week . First I want to say that the board takes the criticism very seriously – even if everything has been conducted under proper circumstances and there is no question of any violations of the regulations. That there is criticism and dissatisfaction is reason enough for the board to review these cases thoroughly . This was made at the meeting. We did a thorough review of the work of Akademiförvaltningen, and have come up with constructive solutions. Also, the strategy of our agricultural management was discussed.

It was interesting and illuminating to hear about the University’s agricultural management from the 1950’s and onwards. The land area has increased only marginally within Uppsala county, but the area is more coherent. It is a picture of the rationalization that has occurred generally in agriculture in Sweden with fewer but larger farms. The focus is more on crop production, which requires more land in order for the farmers to be able to support themselves. The total agricultural area is basically the same today as it was in the 1950’s (14,900 hectares in 1954, compared to 14,299 hectares in 2013). Within Uppsala county we hold 7,786 hectares today, compared to 6,454 hectares in 1954.

Uppsala University has a responsibility towards our donors. As Vice-Chancellor of Uppsala University, I am anxious that funds are managed as well as possible according to donor’s wishes. The mission of Akademiförvaltningen is to do just that, within the context of all applicable regulations. This is also a way to spread the risks between finance, real estate, agriculture and forestry. The board will continue to follow up and keep us informed about these issues going forward.

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Semester start for the University Board

Today the Board of Uppsala University had its first meeting for the autumn. For some members this was their premier, and we want to extend them a special welcome.  The Board plays an important role at the University and in moving it forward. Its members are a mixture of external members from various societal sectors, students, doctoral students, teachers, and union representatives. The Board is chaired by Carola Lemne.

Eva always starts out with the report from the Vice-Chancellor – a review of what has happened since we last met. Formulating thoughts provides an opportunity to reflect on everything that has happened, and we are always equally impressed that so much has actually happened between two Board meetings at Uppsala University.

Today’s agenda didn’t include many items requiring decisions, but several informational items instead.  We heard good presentations about the half-year report, the admissions situation, work with internal governance and monitoring, the request for comments on the higher education foundation proposal, and work to revise goals and strategies. Today the Board had time for discussions, and we were able to listen to important viewpoints from members that will be useful in our everyday work and will provide platforms for the coming decisions we need to make.

Our work with our comment on “Higher Education Foundations: A New Operational Form for Greater Freedom” sparked a lively discussion even at this early juncture – and it will continue, not only at Board meetings, among colleagues, students at departments, within the University but also elsewhere. It’s going to be an exciting autumn.

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Talks with Vice-Chancellors at Rosenbad

Yesterday we vice-chancellors for the country’s higher education institutions gathered to discuss the budget bill with Minister of Education and Research Jan Björklund. The introductory remarks by Björklund made it clear that the “News value was limited” – and I have to agree. There was no news and no discussion of the budget bill being presented on 18 September. But Björklund wanted to take the opportunity to elucidate some matters that are pressing. They included higher education foundations, fee-paying students, teacher education, employment of doctoral students, fraud in research, and forecasts for how many people can enter higher education (including professional schools). There was time to ask questions, and I asked about the comments solicited regarding higher education foundations, Erasmus Mundus, and how the forecast had been arrived at. As mentioned, not much was new, but it was gratifying that work is underway regarding migration issues and the possibility of students being granted residency permits upon graduation from a higher education institution in Sweden – even though progress is slow.

Yesterday Eva and Deputy -Vice Chancellor Ulf Danielsson met Miroslav Lajcák, the foreign minister of Slovakia, who was visiting Sweden on 9-10 September. It was an interesting meeting, bringing exciting discussions about the development of higher education in Slovakia. The minister described his country against the background of its 20th-century history. He also presented his ambition to raise the level of universities to parity with the strong growth Slovakia is experiencing in other areas.

These types of meetings often provide unique insights into areas that lie somewhat outside our daily activities, helping to forge contacts and entry points for future collaboration.


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Welcome new students!

Last week, we welcomed our new students here in Uppsala with welcome receptions in the auditorium, and today a welcome reception is held in Visby for our students at Campus Gotland.


We hope you will feel at home both at the university and in your new hometown. And now, it is time for the semester to start!

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