Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: November 2013

Meetings at Makerere University

Peter Sundin, Stefan Swartling Peterson and Ulrika Ouline from Uppsala are with me (Eva) in Uganda, where we have had a busy and interesting day in Kampala. A few hours after arriving yesterday we attended a reception organized by the Swedish Embassy, on the occasion of Göran Hägglund’s visit with the Swedish Health Care delegation. Stefan Swartling Peterson gave a lecture earlier in the day on the non-communicable disease epidemic and health systems.

Today we visited Makerere University in Kampala. Vice-Chancellor Ddumpa Ssentamu came to Uppsala in December 2012, and now we could return the visit. A delegation from the College of Health Sciences at Makerere University also visited us in September this year.

The purpose of our meeting was to explore opportunities for more and deeper partnerships, and to support ongoing collaborations with a memorandum of understanding and exchange agreements. Stefan Swartling Peterson has several exciting collaborations with, and has also worked at, Makerere University. Uppsala University’s International Science Programme (ISP) has been active here for many years and I am impressed by their amazing work.








A large assembly of the Vice Chancellor, members of management and College Principals met us and many interesting opportunities for cooperation were identified. We talked about already existing contacts and cooperation with Uppsala University, and it was striking to hear how many people that have an education from Sweden and other Nordic countries. In the afternoon we visited, among other things, the Department of Chemistry. A seminar with a short presentation of the research had been arranged for us, with a subsequent visit to the chemistry lab.









The day ended with an Uppsala University reception, with invited guests and alumni. It’s been a day full of impressions and ideas, and I am impressed with the work that has been done. Tomorrow we visit ANoCC, the African/Asian Network of Caregivers, and then we’re off to the airport for the next stop – Malawi and the SANORD -conference.

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Meeting of the Deans in Sigtuna: autonomy and quality

Once per semester a retreat is arranged for the deans, which in reality is Uppsala University’s big management meeting. Besides the deans of the nine faculties, which explains the name of the meeting, the proceedings are attended by the University Management, the advisers to the Vice-chancellor, and everyone involved in the academic leadership structure at the domain and faculty levels (vice-rectors and their deputies, deputy deans, division deans), and a few more associates.

The foci for the autumn meeting were autonomy and quality work – two issues that turned out to be intertwined in more than one way.


The theme for Tuesday afternoon was autonomy. Under the leadership of moderator Kerstin Jacobsson we heard contributions from Shirin Ahlbäck Öberg, Sverker Sörlin and Sten Heckscher. They discussed the preconditions for autonomy and its possible forms.








The autonomy discussion is primarily about universities’ relation to the state, but it is also about the forms of internal work, governance, and management at higher-education institutions. These forms, in turn, involve some existential questions for the academy: What is a university? How can the integrity of universities and intellectual freedom be guaranteed in a time when society has ever greater – and indeed largely justified – expectations regarding what the sector is supposed to “deliver”?

The point of departure for the autonomy discussion was this autumn’s work with and the debate surrounding the proposal concerning higher-education foundations. Even though that proposal now seems to be moribund following comprehensive criticism it received when it was circulated for comment, it’s important to continue this discussion. There was great agreement about some points. In the continued autonomy process, we as higher-education institutions should take a more active part, and we should more clearly think through and formulate what kind of autonomy we want to have, rather than passively waiting for the government’s ‘next offer’. But it is also a matter of placing autonomy in relation to other challenges facing the sector.

Some of the questions taken up: What criteria for success do universities have for excellent research or high-quality education, for example? What organisational form is most conducive to these criteria? With 90 % state funding, what justified requirements can the state impose? How can we fulfil society’s demands that we supply Sweden with the competence it will need? What problems do we aim to resolve with a new organisational form? What can we achieve within the existing structure as a public authority?

Sverker Sörlin maintained that autonomy would probably benefit the advancement of academic excellence, but that the connection is less clear when it comes to the quality and dimensioning of education – which after all ultimately aims to secure the Swedish supply of competence – and when it comes to the social utility and relevance of universities more generally.

Sten Heckscher reminded us that while autonomy is important it is not the only important issue. Also central are the quality of first-cycle education, recruitment issues, internationalisation, the tendency that higher-education institutions are turning into “project hotels for researchers who apply themselves out of the community and teaching” or the effects of “overly simplistic evaluation and resource allocation systems”.

Heckscher claimed that many of today’s hurdles could be overcome in principle within the framework of the public authority form “if only we have the will”. He reminded us about the importance of money. Whoever provides the funding always has a legitimate demand to have a say in how resources are used. Sörlin shared this view, and he indulged in “dreaming” a scenario where the state, in its wisdom, would set aside a very large resource, preferably SEK 100 or 200 billion, as basic capital for a number of independent higher-education institutions.

Quality work

Ann Fust moderated Wednesday afternoon, when the focus was on quality work. The starting point was the “quality paradox” that prevails today in both education and research. Besides the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Åsa Kettis, Per Andersson and Joseph Nordgren provided introductory remarks.








In terms of education, we are now largely in the jaws of the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), whereas the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) has proposed a model in which higher-education institutions themselves would take the responsibility for developing quality systems that, following approval from UKÄ, ought to be able to replace the national system.

On the research side, the situation is rather the opposite. Here we have thus far relied on our own major evaluation projects (Q&R07 and Q&R11), but now there is a proposal that these could be replaced to some extent by national systems that the Swedish Research Council is now investigating, as directed by the government.

The opinion of the Meeting of the Deans was rather unequivocally in favour of having Uppsala University signal that we want to take charge of our own quality matters. This, too, is an autonomy issue.

Arenas for broad discussion

It is highly rewarding for us in University Management to be in a position to initiate a discussion of these issues. And it’s important to point out that the Meeting of the Deans is just the beginning. Both autonomy and quality systems involve long-term processes. It’s essential that we create arenas to continue a broad discussion, both within Uppsala University and together with institutions that we collaborate with.








One key arena is work with revising our goals and strategies. Göran Magnusson and Coco Norén, who are directing this work, rounded off the Meeting of the Deans with their conclusions from the discussions. They pointed out that the two days complemented each other. The quality issue is about autonomy and collegiality, and how we make use of the freedom we have. They summarised the two discussions in a few keywords: responsibility, quality, trust – and collaboration among the various parts of this broad University.

Many thanks to all of those who contributed to an inspiring, rewarding, laborious but extremely enjoyable day!

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Autonomy 2.0

The Vice-Chancellor’s dialogue with our senators was held under the heading of Autonomy 2.0. Now that the University’s comments regarding higher-education foundations has been submitted, it’s important for us not to allow the discussion to end. We need to keep it going. In an opinion piece in UNT, together with the vice-chancellors of the Karolinska institutet, Stockholm University, the Royal Institute of Technology and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, we demanded that the issue should be thoroughly revisited, with:

•  several well-considered alternatives presented, along with impact analyses for each

• the country’s higher-education institution taking an active part in the process

• the ultimate proposal enjoying broad political backing.

We feel that it is important to discuss greater autonomy, revitalised collegiality, strengthened academic leadership and expanded participation. The issues we wanted to highlight in the dialogue with the senators were:

• “Constitutionally protected” charter: what would it contain, how “inefficient” would it be?

• Division of power, mandates, division of labour

• Safeguards for the idea of the university and the creation of potential to move forward

• Who will ultimately represent “the university”?

The discussion shifted to a conversation with the work group handling the revision of Goals and Strategies. Several voices were heard to advocate more distinct, sharper and more challenging goals for the future.

The solicited comments on higher education and the autonomy issue also came up when Eva met with the county’s parliamentary representatives in Stockholm earlier in the week. Discussions also touched on the dimensioning of first-cycle courses and programmes, rules for visas and migration, research funding and quality assessment – all essential issues that we will continue to discuss in various forums; for example, at the retreat with the deans next week autonomy and quality will dominate the agenda and conversations.

And have you seen our new web? Check out www.uu.se!


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U4 meeting in Ghent

The annual meeting of vice-chancellors in the U4 on Sunday-Monday represents an excellent opportunity to consolidate contacts among the vice-chancellors in this now five-year-old network. Sibrand Poppema (vice-chancellor at Groningen) is now the veteran of the group; Ulrike Beisiegel (Göttingen) and I (Eva) have been part of this for two years, while Anne De Paepe (Ghent) acceded to the post of vice-chancellor this autumn and attended for the first time.








The meetings of the vice-chancellors coincides with a larger U4 conference involving most individuals who are active in joint activities, so the aggregate Uppsala delegation consisted of some ten people, including our three vice-rectors.

U4 två







We received reports from the various subject clusters, where not least the humanities and medicine have managed to launch substantial joint activities. The so-called horizontal activities also presented reports. The joint leadership programme has been a great success; this is the picture we have gleaned from Uppsala participants, and it has been corroborated by the other universities. The recurrent courses in teaching in the international classroom have also worked out well.

There is potential for collaboration in several areas. Besides the opportunities presented by Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020, there is scope for collaboration on alumni events and other international activities.

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Installation of professors and conferment of prizes

On Friday the installation of new professors and prize awards took place under solemn and festive forms in our beautiful Grand Auditorium in the University Main Building.

Professorsinstallationen nov13


Brilliant installation lectures were given by three of the new professors:

Mohammad Fazlhashemi: The Paradigm Shirt and Saving Theological Interpretations.

Gunilla Enblad: Major Advances in the Treatment of Malignant Lymphoma – But More Remains to Be Done!

Thomas Schön: Modelling Dynamic Systems – Automatically Understanding What Is Happening.

This year’s winners of the Distinguished Teaching Awards are: Malin Östman, Mika Hietanen, Javad Amid, Mathias Hallberg and Susanne Mirbt. For the first time, the Hjärnäpplet (Brain Apple) was awarded in connection with the installation of new professors. Ulf Landegren, professor at the Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, is the 2013recipient of the Uppsala University Innovation Prize, the Hjärnäpplet.

In the evening the festivities continued at the castle, with entertainment provided by the Uppsala Academy Chamber Choir and its director, Prof. Stefan Parkman.

Many thanks to all of you who contributed in various ways to yesterday’s celebrations in honour of our new professors and prize-winners!

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Swedish Excellence Seminar in Brazil

During Monday and Tuesday the Swedish Excellence Seminar took place in São Paulo, Brazil. This was a joint arrangement between Lund University, the Royal Institute of Technology, Linköping University, Halmstad University and Uppsala University. Several of our scientists gave lectures: Johan Rönnelid , Olle Eriksson, Carlos Moyses Araujo , Bryndis Birnir , Janaine Goncalves and Leif Kirsebom.

Kickoff meeting for the Swedish Delegation for the Swedish Excellence Seminar.

Kickoff meeting for the Swedish Delegation for the Swedish Excellence Seminar.









At the same time, Science Without Borders held activities where eight Swedish universities made a joint road show and visited different universities in Brazil. I think it’s fantastic that Swedish universities cooperate on an international level, and I would like to see more of this in the future.

Interaction in Brazil.

Interaction in Brazil.









We have had several discussions with representatives of various universities and financiers that will lead to increased cooperation in the future.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences journey to Brazil, called the Royal Technology Mission, also took place during these days. We met on Monday at the inauguration of the exhibition “The Nobel Prize : Ideas changing the world”.

Ec Brasilien 2Ex Brasilein1Ex Brasilien 3

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10th anniversary of the Anders Wall lecture on entrepreneurship

This afternoon the Anders Wall lecture on entrepreneurship celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The University Hall was filled to the last seat, and we got to enjoy inspiring and creative lectures of various kinds. This year’s Anders Wall lecturers were Anders Wahlroos, Nordea, Sampo Group and UPM, Mernosh Saatchi, Humblestorm, Linus Holmsäter, Heyrobic, Mia Brunell, Kinnevik, Camilla Ljunggren, designer Pluring. The day was organized by the Entrepreneurs Academy, the Anders Wall Foundation in Entrepreneurship and Uppsala University.

At the lecture, the Uppsala Student of the Year 2013 was also presented. It is Kajsa Asplund, student at the Psychology Program. She received the scholarship for her resourcefulness, as well as her drive and entrepreneurship. The scholarship was presented by Prince Daniel.

Many thanks to all of you who contributed to a successful day.

The Uppsala Student of the year 2013, Kajsa Asplund, receives the scholarship at the Anders Wall lecture in the University Hall.

The Uppsala Student of the year 2013, Kajsa Asplund, receives the scholarship at the Anders Wall lecture in the University Hall.


The lecturers with Anders Wall and Prince Daniel.

The lecturers with Anders Wall and Prince Daniel.

Entrepreneurs Academy.

Entrepreneurs Academy.



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