Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: March 2016

Vice-Chancellor visit to South Africa and Botswana

Vice-Chancellors from 13 Swedish seats of learning and 4 research funders have visited 7 universities in 2 countries over the course of 5 days. There is a lot to process from this intense Vice-Chancellor visit to South Africa and Botswana arranged by STINT and UKÄ. University Chancellor Harriet Wallberg, who headed our delegation, pointed out on several occasions that this was among the largest delegations of Vice-Chancellors travelling together in this manner to her knowledge. State Secretary Karin Röding also participated in the first leg of the trip. Aside from visits to the universities, a workshop was also held with invited Vice-Chancellors to discuss various forms of partnerships and cooperation within the context of STIAS.


Uppsala University is involved with all the universities we visited, and we have MoUs and exchange agreements with the majority. Although I had some prior knowledge, several of the visits gave me a chance to learn of collaborations that were unfamiliar to me. It is quite inspiring to see how much activity there is going on, and how extensive the international engagement is at our University.


There are many joint Swedish-South African research ventures, significantly more than I expected. Yet the student mobility is less than I would have thought. Of all the African students that come to Sweden, only a few are South-African, both in regard to exchanges and those who arrive as free movers. Likewise, few Swedish students go on exchange to South Africa. There is room from improvement here. One of the obstacles for mobility raised during the trip was the lack of scholarships, both for study fees and accommodation. The South African rand has dropped quite a large amount in the last few years, which makes Sweden an expensive destination. Furthermore, differing semester divisions is also a frequently cited issue. It was clear that exchanges and collaboration are most requested at the Master and PhD studies level, as well as courses in the summer and winter. Several people also called for various forms of joint/double degrees.


Naturally, the student protests in South Africa and #feesmustfall were discussed. There was no sign of unrest during our visits, yet it was clear that these have affected the universities deeply. There was a widespread understanding of the students’ reaction to raised fees, but less of their methods and tactics. Several seats of learning are reconsidering their approaches to strategy and will opt to involve students in the process to a greater degree in the future as a result of what has transpired.

Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib

Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib

We are one of the founders of SANORD, and I now had the chance to visit several of our partners in that network as part of this trip. The next SANORD meeting and conference will be held in Uppsala on 7-9 September this year.


I found the visit instructive, not only for the chance to experience South Africa and Botswana, but also for the process of internationalisation at the other Swedish seats of learning. I am convinced that Swedish universities could stand to collaborate more internationally than they currently are. And above all, Sweden must have more scholarships to offer international students. I should like to remind you of our words in the input on the research bill:

Uppsala University proposes that the government initiate a dynamic and long-term scholarship programme – perhaps one related to Raoul Wallenberg or Dag Hammarskjöld – in order to provide students from currently tuition fee-paying parts of the world with the opportunity to educate themselves in Sweden. Such a programme would benefit Sweden and the world in several ways. Not the least, it would enable Sweden to create an important network of global leaders in the long term.

We visited:

University of Johannesburg

University of Pretoria

University of Witwatersrand

University of Botswana

University of Cape Town

University of Stellenbosch

University of Western Cape

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Scholars At Risk – Network Sweden

Scholars At Risk (SAR) is an international network of universities and individuals who work together to harbour threatened academics, avert attacks and safeguard academic freedom and related values. Uppsala University has been a member of SAR for some time, and earlier this month, SAR – Sweden was launched at a seminar in Gothenburg. So far, the network consists of 11 seats of learning, but more will follow.

Ola Larsmo of PEN gave an appreciated lecture where he related his experiences as a writer-in-residence. He praised Uppsala University for harbouring a blogger from Bangladesh facing death threats. Amidst increasing global unrest, with difficult conflicts that threaten to encroach upon freedom of speech and academic autonomy, these questions are made all the more important. One way of shouldering our responsibility is to actively participate in SAR, but also to cooperate with PEN and other like-minded organisations.


Founding Statement

Launch of Scholars at Risk – Sweden Section

On behalf of the Swedish members of the Scholars at Risk Network, we declare the official launch of Scholars at Risk– Sweden Section, this March 9, 2016 at the University of Gothenburg. Scholars at Risk– Sweden Section is a partnership between Swedish higher education institutions and Scholars at Risk (SAR), an international network of higher education institutions dedicated to promoting academic freedom and defending the human rights of scholars worldwide.  In joining Scholars at Risk, Swedish academic leadership, faculty, students and staff send a strong message of solidarity with scholars and universities in situations where academic freedom is restricted and research, publication, teaching and learning are repressed. Together with Scholars at Risk members at more than 400 institutions in 40 countries around the world, we hope to make a difference.

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New adviser to the Vice-Chancellor and strategic collaboration with Uppsala Municipality

This autumn, the University Board ratified the Programme for Sustainable Development. In the interest of strengthening collaboration and improving the exchange of experience within our University, I have appointed Anna Rutgersson as an adviser to the Vice-Chancellor for sustainability issues, starting 1 March. Anna is a professor of meteorology at the Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology. With a dedicated adviser for these important issues, it is my hope that the new Programme and Action Plan for Sustainable Development will receive the attention they deserve.

This Tuesday, we held a well-attended management meeting to discuss the Management Evaluation that was recently referred to us for consideration. The theme of the dean meeting was: how well does formal and informal management on the level of the departments work at Uppsala University? Kåre Bremer of the Management Evaluation opened the management meeting by outlining the most important issues. The resulting discussions were rewarding, and it is great that Kåre was able to participate and clarify certain parts of the evaluation.

New adviser

The week concluded with me and the chairman of Uppsala Municipality signing a declaration of intent for a strategic partnership. In the press release, I state: ‘The Municipality is an important collaborative partner on many levels; in education, research, culture and much else. Cross-border collaborations often produce new knowledge that can contribute to solutions to the challenges of society. We also have a strong common interest in developing the region and increasing the attraction of the city’. It is good to see us expanding the collaboration between Uppsala University and the Municipality further, and focusing on specific areas of intervention.

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Swinging London

Anders spent the end of the week in London. The stay included meetings at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK, and the Anglo-Swedish Society. A much appreciated visit at the Linnean Society and a chance to see the collections was also on the programme.






The main event, however, was an alumni dinner bringing together some 60 guests at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London on Thursday evening. In addition to our own Uppsala alumni, the dinner party included no less than nine UK based Uppsala honorary doctors, as well as representatives from the Linnean Society of London and the Swedish Chamber of Commerce for the UK. We were also honoured that Her Excellency Ambassador Nicola Clase and a number of her colleagues from the Swedish Embassy joined us.
IMG_0027[1]With lots of singing, the dinner party did indeed bring a touch and feel of Uppsala and its unique student life to London!

To build and develop strong relations with our alumni, more than 800 reside in the greater London area alone, is one important part of Uppsala University’s external relations. Openness towards industry and society is important for securing the long-term relevance and impact of our research and education.

To all Uppsala alumni residing in the UK, please continue to keep in touch with us and also help us to stay in touch with you! Please register with your UK contact details: www.uu.se/en/alumni or send an email toUKalumni@uadm.uu.se

I would like to express my sincere thanks to our UK alumni chapter for organizing the event. Its Chair Mr. Peter Lindqvist and the hostess for the evening Ms. Marina Mitrevski deserve special mention, for working hard to establish a social platform for alumni and friends in the UK. I also extend my thanks to the people from our own external relations office for assisting with the event, and not least to university guide Mikael Norrby who gave a much appreciated presentation (under demanding technological circumstances) at the event.

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The Management Council visits Campus Gotland

This Monday, the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council met for the second time on Campus Gotland, we will soon have established an annual tradition if this keeps up. The University Management (the Vice-Chancellor, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the University Director) left for Visby in the early morning for a meeting with the entire staff. Developments since last year, current events, and the status of Haikola’s Gotland evaluation following the referral and Q&R17 were among the topics addressed at the staff meeting. Imagine if we could hold meetings involving the entire staff in Uppsala as well.

After lunch, the vice-rectors and student representatives arrived. Naturally, issues pertaining to Campus Gotland figured heavily on the agenda – how to proceed with proposals and recommendations for Haikola’s evaluation, and input on the drafting of a new Mission and Core Values document for Campus Gotland. Lars Geschwind from KTH, who conducts follow-up research on the merging process, reported on his progress, particularly of the survey recently conducted among the employees of Campus Gotland. Peter Larsson, the government’s assessor of the private sector and labour market development on Gotland, joined up later in the afternoon to present his findings thus far. The evaluation will be completed on 20 June. It was a rewarding and interesting day, and it is clear that we are now entering a new phase with Campus Gotland. The merger has generally gone very well, with some necessary adjustments that are currently being made, and certain new initiatives that will be required in the future.

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A Monday with the University Board

Last week began with a meeting with the University Board. As the University Main Building is currently under renovation, the Board instead came together in the Gustavianum, the oldest University building still in use, which over the years has served as everything from student accommodation, University library and the seat of various departments to the museums of today. Museum Gustavianum is an asset to education and research, as well as a meeting place between society, art and science. Last year, there were more than 80 000 visitors. Our sincere thanks to University curator Mikael Ahlund for a fantastic presentation!

The February meeting is always brimming with formal matters: annual report, budget figures, internal governance and control, and planning for the internal audit.

The annual report for 2015 tells of yet another good year for Uppsala University. We are attracting more research funding, reaching our goals for the proportion of women among the new professors (36%), the demand for our educational offerings is still high, and although our total number of enrolments has continued to decline slightly, the number of campus students on Gotland keeps increasing.

However, we refuse to grow complacent, instead pressing on with further development work – on research, education and collaboration. Some of our planned activities for the future are presented in the budget figures we submit to the government. Several of the items on this year’s version are familiar from the input on the upcoming research bill we submitted back in autumn. Increased dimensioning is a quality issue. A broad, full-scale university requires a certain volume of students if it is to retain the quality of its breadth. Increased direct funding for research is another core issue.

As last Monday was the deadline to submit the annual report and budget figures to the government, a group of couriers left for the Ministry of Education and Research in Stockholm immediately following the meeting to personally deliver the documents. Producing annual reports and budget figures is an ambitious undertaking involving many people within the University, within the Departments, within the Faculties, in Faculty Offices and within the University Administration, often under challenging time constraints. I would like to thank everyone for their good work and good cooperation.

At Uppsala University, we have a tradition of strong student representation and active student participation. The question of the standing of the students’ unions was decided on 23 February. The outcome means that the University will have six students’ unions for the coming three years. This places great demands on the coordination and cooperation of the unions. Of course, we hope and believe that our talented and hard-working students will handle it brilliantly. For our part, we shall do everything we can to make things easier for them.

Many of the University’s issues of development are connected to the academic management. The evaluation Utvecklad ledning av universitet och högskolor (approx. ‘Developed governance of universities and university colleges’) was first addressed by the University Board as early as December last year, for information and initial discussions. The evaluation has since been referred for consideration internally within the University. At the meeting, the University Board ratified the University’s statement re: the final statement of the Management Evaluation. The important discussion of leadership and governance is already ongoing within the University, and is sure to continue for some time. This week, the assessor Kåre Bremer visited the management meeting, and the management evaluation will also be one of the issues discussed at the dean meeting this spring.

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RTM to Japan

Together with Professor Maria Strömme of Uppsala University, I (Eva) spent much of last week on a RTM (Royal Technology Mission) to Japan. The RTM involved a delegation of 30 people headed by His Majesty Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden and the praeses of IVA, Leif Johansson. The delegation consisted of representatives of the private sector, the public sector, and the University. The group was a diverse mix of people, and interesting conversations abounded. Every year, the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences (IVA) organises a trip abroad, but over the last few years, there have also been RTM trips within Sweden. The next domestic RTM is set to visit Gotland in autumn 2016.

The trip included a visit to the university, that is, Tokyo University and Tokyo Women’s Medical University. Furthermore, several renowned Japanese companies like Hitachi, Mitsubishi, Toyota, Canon, Fuji were gracious enough to receive our RTM delegation. We also toured the future museum Miraikan, Buddhist temples, and the 600 meter tall TV tower Sky Tree. In all, we had a rewarding few days, made particularly informative by lectures held by delegates during the bus rides leading up to every visit, and corresponding summaries afterwards. As you might have gleaned, they were also quite intense days, with a busy but well-planned schedule that was carried out with impressive precision down to the minute, almost to the second.


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