Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: October 2013

The University Board’s retreat

The autumn semester retreat for the University Board took place on Tuesday-Wednesday. On Tuesday afternoon the focus was on internationalisation matters. What stood out as the greatest challenges were recruiting more students from outside Europe (both by developing our international course and study programme offerings and creating room for more scholarship recipients), stimulating our own students’ travel abroad, and furthering our work to recruit international teachers/researchers, not least early in their careers. Language issues and questions involving individuals accompanying incoming teachers/researchers were also touched upon.

Then the Board – as tradition prescribes – was treated to presentations of this year’s Nobel laureates. Many thanks to the professors who provided edifying and inspiring introductions: Gunnar Ingelman (physics), Kersti Hermansson (chemistry), Stellan Sandler (medicine), Eva Mörk (economics), Rolf Lundén (literature).

Yesterday we also had the opportunity to discuss the work modes of the University Board.

At the meeting on Wednesday morning the question of autonomy and our comments on the proposal about higher-education foundations constituted the self-evident main item on agenda.

The Board rejected the proposal regarding higher-education foundations as inadequate and wanted to see a rigorous re-examination of the autonomy issue. It’s imperative that the process leading to true autonomy should continue. Läs mer i pressmeddelandet. Read more in the press release.

The Board also clearly agreed that autonomy necessarily entails a revision of the goals and strategies for Uppsala University, which comprised the last item on the agenda.

Everything is in place for us to carry out internal and external discussions about how Uppsala University needs to be organised in the long term in order to succeed in our endeavours to achieve our lofty goals.  We may even indulge in thinking freely.

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Spotlight on cancer: An evening of seminars at Gustavianum

A packed auditorium at Gustavianum when Tobias Sjöblom, Peter Nygren and Louise von Essen presents current research on cancer.

A full auditorium at Gustavianum when Tobias Sjöblom, Peter Nygren and Louise von Essen presented current research on cancer.

Uppsala University's Vice-Rector for Medicine and Pharmacy, Professor Britt Skogseid introduced the lectures, and senior professor Bengt Westermark, who has previously served as Chairman of the Cancer Society's research committee, was the evening’s moderator.

Uppsala University’s Vice-Rector for Medicine and Pharmacy, Professor Britt Skogseid, introduced the lectures, and senior professor Bengt Westermark, who has previously served as Chairman of the Cancer Society’s research committee, was the evening’s moderator.

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Unexpected move in the foundation issue

Before most higher-education institutions even had time to submit their comments on the proposal regarding higher-education foundations, minister of education Jan Björklund is making a move, saying that the ministry intends to investigate the matter more before making a decision.  This move was unexpected, and the timing is a surprise – not that there was not considerable criticism but because it came before the sector had had a chance to take a formal stand. In some sense it is admirable that they are perceptive to critical signals, but this is not making an already shaky process feel any more stable.

It is a good thing that the autonomy issue as such is moving forward. Uppsala University has previously made it known that it would favour more independence. The issue is important for the future, both for practical reasons and as a matter of principle. We welcome a restart, but one with a broader point of departure in order to try out more ways to find the most suitable organisational model for the future. Furthermore, broader political anchorage is needed, along with a constructive dialogue with the higher-education sector in the next round.

Ahead of a continuation of the autonomy process, we at Uppsala University should take the opportunity to engage in a thorough discussion of how we view our own internal governance. How can we ensure a long-term model where we can successfully combine collegiality and student influence with strong academic leadership?

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Meeting with department heads

At Monday’s meeting with heads of departments we devoted a major portion of the time to a discussion of the University’s stance on the foundation issue and autonomy and governance matters for the future. Our proposed response to the ministry’s request for comments has now been sent off to the members of the University Board in advance of the retreat next week.  The dialogue and conversations with the department heads were interesting. When we asked about topics for coming meetings, many suggestions were put forward, so we will have a lot to talk about at the next meeting with heads of departments on 19 March 2014.

Yesterday Eva started her day with a breakfast meeting at the Swedish Agency for Government Employers. The theme of the meeting was the 2013 salary negotiations, a new retirement agreement and redundancy agreement. On to the Swedish Institute and a meeting with its Monitoring Council, where Eva is a member. Anders took charge of the Vice-Chancellor’s Meeting in the morning, and later in the day we both took part in the SUHF (Association of Swedish Higher Education) Conference on Competence Maintenance.

Today SUHF is holding a national assembly, and Eva and Ann Fust are participating. Important questions on the agenda are the principles underlying our stance regarding quality issues, the operational plan for 2014, and information about responses to the round of solicited commentary on the matter of higher-education foundations. The day will start with a seminar about grading systems and resource allocation. The latter involves a directive from the Swedish Research Council to propose a peer-review-based model for evaluating quality and relevance.

A few lines following the national assembly:

SUHF’s long-term stance on the matter of a national quality system for higher education was discussed in depth. A proposal regarding a long-term position on the evaluation of higher education was approved. The overriding principles we agreed on were:

Future national quality systems for higher education in Sweden should

1) build upon a solid measure of ownership and responsibility on the part of higher-education institutions,

2) be both control- and development-oriented,

3) facilitate diversification of the aggregate offerings in higher education,

4) have international legitimacy.

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A day at work – meetings and conversations

A day at work can contain so many different meetings and conversations. Yesterday started with our meeting the new head of UUI, Pirkko Tamsen; it was her fourth day at her new job. Welcome – we truly hope you will enjoy working here. Then Eva rushed off to introduce Uppsala University’s Conference on Educational Development. The auditorium was packed, and the conference papers were excellent.

Uppsala University’s Conference on Educational Development

Uppsala University’s Conference on Educational Development








In the afternoon there was a meeting with the Swedish Research Council (VR) in Stockholm. VR has been directed to propose a model for allocating resources to universities and university colleges that comprises peer review of the quality and relevance of research. Eva is a member of the reference group for VR’s assignment.  From VR, I (Eva) went on to the Royal Institute of Technology, KTH, where there was a meeting of the Governing Board of the Göran Gustafsson Foundation. They support research in SciTech and MedPharm, with prizes for junior researchers. Back to Uppsala towards evening – time for a concluding dinner for the Leaders Programme. It was a pleasure to see everyone who had participated in the programme once again; we all gave a joint lecture in February. There was a great deal of praise for the Leaders Programme, and participants stressed the importance of the network they had acquired.

This morning Eva introduced TeA Day in a packed auditorium at Polacksbacken.  The seats had all been spoken for within three hours, which shows the importance and popularity of the meetings of the Network for Technical and Administrative Personnel Uppsala University (TeA).

The Swedish Cancer Society was invited to come to Uppsala University today. Eva and Ann Fust met the group together with Vice-Rector Britt Skogseid during lunch and presented our University. They also expressed our deep gratitude for the support we receive for our cancer research. In the afternoon they will be visiting Rudbeck Laboratory and listening to research presentations.

Presentation for the Swedish Cancer Society

Presentation for the Swedish Cancer Society









Later in the afternoon Eva will be welcoming participants in the National Quality Coordinator Meeting, who are convening in Uppsala 17-18 October. The focus is often on quality issues, with a polemical article in today’s UNT, for instance.

During the day we have also found time to prepare our domain dialogues for the autumn. The management has dialogues with the respective disciplinary domains to go through long-term strategies and discuss operational development. This autumn’s dialogues will have a special focus on how strategic commitments are to be addressed in 2014, what strategic matters need to be highlighted in the University’s operational plan for 2015, and what should be proposed to the government in coming budget discussions.

Yesterday we received the application figures for 2014. The application pressure is rising – again!

In total, Uppsala University has gone up 39.1% compared with applications to UU for the 2013 spring semester. Just looking at Campus Gotland the number of applicants has doubled compared with the number applying to the former Gotland University College in the spring of 2013. The number of unique applicants for courses at Campus Uppsala is rising by 13.7% compared with the spring semester 2013.

As we said – a day at work can contain many different meetings and conversations of various kinds. And it never gets boring.

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Visit to Helsinki

The Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council started the week with a 24-hour visit to Helsinki. At Helsinki University we were taken on a tour that included, among other things, the entirely new library before sitting down to a morning meeting with the management there, headed by the newly installed Vice-Chancellor, Jukka Kola, and the new Chancellor, Thomas Wilhelmsson. After lunch our journey took us to nearby Esbo for a visit to Aalto University, where Vice-Chancellor Tuula Teeri greeted us with her management group.

At both universities, the discussion revolved around autonomy, governance, and management forms. Finland carried out a higher education reform in 2010, entailing that universities were given a more independent position vis-à-vis the government, and their modes of operation became less regulated. Helsinki University became a juridical entity of its own in the public sphere. Aalto University was established in 2010 through the merger of three Finnish higher-education institutions – the Helsinki School of Economics, the University of Art and Design, and the University of Technology – and became a foundation. Our discussions involved goals and strategies in general, internationalisation, and fundraising.

At both universities we had a chance to see examples of innovative learning environments. At Helsinki University part of the meeting was held in the “Think Corner”and at Aalto University we visited a so-called design factory.

The "Think Corner" at Helsinki University

The “Think Corner” at Helsinki University

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Panel discussion on Higher-Education Foundations on Monday

Welcome to the open hearing and panel discussion on higher-education foundations on Monday, 7 October at the University Hall, room IX, from 14.30 to 16.30. Participants will include, among others, the Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education, Peter Honeth. More information will follow on www.uu.se.

During the coming week, a PEACE project meeting will be held here in Uppsala. PEACE stands for Project for European Latin American Cooperation and Exchange, and is an Erasmus Mundus project. Within the PEACE project, scholarships for study or research are offered, These scholarships are open to applicants from Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay. During the meeting the discussions will evolve around experiences so far, the Bologna process in Latin America, and future activities.

Yesterday we thanked employees who have retired during the past year with a tribute dinner. The tribute dinner is a way for us to show our appreciation for all the work, all the dedication and care that the employees have devoted our university, in many cases for several decades. All have in various ways helped create the university we have today through contributions to research, education, administration, and professional service. Thank you!

Today the alumni lecture with Christina Jutterström was crowded. Christina Jutterström is former editor of the newspapers Dagens Nyheter and Expressen, and CEO of Sveriges Television. She talked about her life and leadership experiences in a captivating manner under the headline “About the desire to be a part of building our society”. She told us about how she pushed herself, and others, as a media leader for nearly 40 years.

At the end of the lecture, the Alumnus of the year 2013 was announced – Petra Einarsson, CEO of the business unit Sandvik Materials Technology at Sandvik. She received the award for demonstrating a strong commitment to issues related to diversity and inclusive leadership, and she is a good role model for current and future students.

Petra Einarsson

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