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.