Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: December 2014

2014 in retrospect

2014 has been a very successful year for Uppsala University.

During the year Uppsala University climbed up the rankings and is now, according to all three leading global lists, among the 100 most distinguished universities worldwide. Uppsala is the higher education institution (HEI) in Sweden that receives the largest total sum in grants awarded by the Swedish Research Council, and we rank in the top for grants from the Wallenberg Foundation and the European Research Council as well.

In December the European Institute of Technology announced the winners of its 2014 Call for Knowledge and Innovation Communities (KICs) Proposals. Uppsala is part of both the two selected pan-European KIC consortia. One is InnoLife (which aims ‘to promote entrepreneurship and develop innovations in healthy living and active ageing’) and the other is RawMatTERS (where ‘TERS’ stands for ‘Tackling European Raw Materials Sustainability’).

Since the summer, Uppsala has also been coordinating two new Erasmus Mundus programmes, focusing on South Africa and Asia. Overall, application pressure to enrol on our study programmes is at a record high and the number of international students is steadily growing.

Major events

The year has meant welcoming numerous visitors to Uppsala. The first meeting of the Uppsala Health Summit was held in June. In September, Magna Charta Observatory held its annual conference in Uppsala, for the first time ever outside Bologna. And it has been a while since so many Nobel Prize laureates chose to come and lecture in Uppsala in December.

The new hub for SciLifeLab Uppsala, Navet, opened up in April. In October, the construction of the new Segerstedt Building, which will house university administration and student services, began. New agreements have been prepared for funding the next phase of the FREIA Hall (Facility for Research Instrumentation and Accelerator Development), where we are developing technology for the European Spallation Source (ESS) initiative.

We have embarked on development projects on e-learning, active student participation, and cultural heritage as an educational resource. We have also initiated a follow-up of the Quality and Renewal (KoF) 2007 and 2011, to obtain a point of departure for discussions of a possible forthcoming research evaluation in 2016.

Simultaneously, unrest in the national political leadership has affected us during the autumn. The abrupt disappearance of the special merger funding for Campus Gotland in the government budget proposals in October was surprising and disturbing. After successful political mobilisation, we were given guarantees that this mistake would be corrected, but the Government’s budget eventually failed to get parliamentary support. At the time of writing, we are therefore back where we started. The original merger funds will remain in 2015 and, it is hoped, 2016 as well. One positive side-effect of this budget chaos is the highly favourable publicity Campus Gotland has gained during the autumn. All those involved and concerned – the Ministry, the region and the sector – have commended the merger and underlined its beneficial effects to date.


We are now preparing for 2015, and there is much to which we can look forward. A new national quality system for education is in the making. The investigator Harriet Wallberg, who is also Sweden’s University Chancellor, has proposed henceforth placing the HEIs in charge of shaping their own systems of educational evaluation. This change will be in line with what we have long wished for. It does not mean that the evaluation will be less stringent. On the contrary, establishing locally adapted systems that both control and develop the quality of our multifaceted range of study programmes will call for major efforts.

Other key issues that will occupy the leadership of the University and our faculties when we get together again after the holidays are:

  • further planning for Ångström Phase IV
  • conclusion of negotiations for a new regional Agreement concerning Cooperation on Medical Education and Research (‘ALF-avtalet’)
  • monitoring and influencing the plans for a new national evaluation and resource distribution model for research
  • paving the way for the continued development of our ‘strategic research areas’.

Implementation of the University’s new mission statement, ‘Goals and Strategies’, is another vital task. The key strategic discussions on the future challenges to our education research are being held – and will be held – in collegial forums in the various parts of the University. The goals and strategies simultaneously remind us that Uppsala University, in all its breadth and diversity, is one university with shared basic values and joint overall objectives.

This university’s successes are founded in excellent inputs on the part of all our highly competent and committed employees and students. Together with the broader university management team, prepared for the upcoming holidays in the picture below, we wish you all a joyful and refreshing break from work over Christmas and the New Year!

Eva Åkess​on

Anders Malmberg
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

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Retreat with the University Board

Once a semester, the whole University Board gets together for 24 hours somewhere in the vicinity of Uppsala. On these occasions, the Vice-Rectors also attend the sessions for part of the time.

The University Board has scope for discussing strategic issues and obtaining in-depth knowledge of our University. The day before yesterday, we had a final discussion ahead of yesterday’s decision on the University’s goals and strategies. Work on this document has engaged large parts of the University over the past year. A working group headed by Coco Norén and Göran Magnusson, with Tom Pettersson’s support, held numerous meetings with both internal and external groups and drew up a proposal. After it was circulated for comment and work had been done at faculties and in disciplinary domains, we continued to work on the proposal during the autumn, both in the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council and at the Meeting of the Deans. There, we also discussed priorities. The University Board was pleased with the new proposal. They made a few additions and did some language editing. It feels good that the document has already been accepted, thanks to the inclusive process. Soon the new document, ‘Goals and strategies’, will be published on our website. There remains the vital task of translating the visions into concrete education and research activities. This is a task that the University Board will follow very closely.

We also had presentations of this year’s Nobel Prizes and their connections with current research at Uppsala University. This is a much appreciated annual event for our University Board members. This year, the Physics Prize was presented by Olga Bottner, the Chemistry Prize by Jan Davidsson, the Medicine Prize by Klas Kullander, the Economics Prize by Eva Mörk and the Literature Prize by Christina Kullberg. They all did so in an inspired, proficient and engaging way. A thousand thanks for these inspiring and exciting presentations.

During the day’s meeting, the University Board took the decision to appoint Dr Katarina Bjelke as University Director. Katarina’s current job is at the Ministry of Education and Research, where she has been a director and head of research policy. I look forward to rewarding cooperation when she starts in April. We must all help to make her feel welcome with us.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg is in South Africa starting our new Erasmus Mundus collaboration. It will be exciting to hear what he has to tell when he returns.

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U4 meeting in Göttingen

The annual network meeting took place in Göttingen today. U4 is a relatively small, focused university network with four higher education institutions: the universities of Groningen, Ghent, Göttingen and Uppsala. Our cooperation takes place mainly in five academic clusters:

  • Humanities (host: Ghent)
  • Medicine and Pharmacy (host: Groningen)
  • Science and Technology (host: Uppsala)
  • Social Sciences, Economics and Law (host: Göttingen)
  • Institutional Management

After listening to reports from all the clusters and from the student representatives, I can state that activities in the network have both expanded and been broadened. There are summer and winter courses, workshops, joint degrees, conferences, leadership programmes, benchmarking and various administrative processes. Uppsala University will host the next joint meeting for the whole network on 15–16 November 2015, but before that several workshops and cluster meetings a be held. There are also options to apply for funding of stays in Göttingen and to start new contacts in the network. If you have any queries or thoughts about how you can use this network, please get in touch with Oskar Pettersson, our contact and coordinator for U4. On the trip, as well as myself and Oskar, were Kay Svensson, Johan Tysk, Caisa Lycken, Lars Magnusson and Mats Larhed.

A framework agreement on future cooperation for PhD education is signed.

A framework agreement on future cooperation for PhD education is signed.

Two outstanding mathematicians: Gauss and Tysk.

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