Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: October 2016

Gender mainstreaming in progress

Today our enlarged Management Council received a visit from two people from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research at the University of Gothenburg, which has been commissioned to support higher education institutions in their work on gender mainstreaming. This was included in the University’s appropriation directions for 2016. The government singles out certain areas as particular priorities: unequal academic career opportunities, the need to counter gender-related study choices and the need to improve student completion rates for women and men.

As part of this work we have studied gender equality measures at the University that were decided at a central level and implemented between 2004 and 2015. Gender equality efforts have often been conducted in project form. In the course of these projects, problem areas have been identified and measures carried out. The list makes impressive reading. My conclusion is that Uppsala University has worked intensively for a long time to promote gender equality and equal treatment. In general, Uppsala University has met the government’s targets for the percentage of women among newly appointed professors (in the latest period, 2012–2015, this was 36%). I am convinced that the initiatives carried out by the University, such as our ‘Kraftpaket för jämställdhet’ (‘Package for gender equality’), have contributed to this, as does the fact that the management at various levels emphasises the importance of continuous and systematic work on gender equality and equal treatment. The next stage is a catalogue of problems, which will soon be completed.

The University is required to produce an action plan for gender mainstreaming, and I have appointed a working group and a reference group for this purpose. The working group includes Anna T. Höglund, Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor on Equal Treatment, Ann-Sofie Wigg Bodin, equal treatment specialist at the Human Resources Division, and Tom Petersson, analyst at the Planning Division. The student unions have also nominated a member of the working group. Anna T. Höglund has been appointed chair and Tom Petersson secretary of the working group. The Equal Treatment Council serves as a reference group for the working group, which makes regular progress reports to the Vice-Chancellor’s Management Council. The action plan is scheduled to be circulated for comments in early January 2017 and to be finalised and submitted to the Ministry by 25 May 2017. It is important to bear in mind the advice we received – it is better to select a few areas and do them well than to make extensive plans that come to nothing. If you have any opinions or suggestions, please contact the working group or a representative of the Equal Treatment Council.

Here are a few pictures from the day’s proceedings in the enlarged Management Council:


What is gender mainstreaming?
(from the Swedish Secretariat for Gender Research Guidelines for Gender Mainstreaming Academia)

Gender mainstreaming is Sweden’s principal strategy for achieving the national gender equality objectives. According to the Council of Europe, gender mainstreaming:

“is the (re)organisation, improvement, development and evaluation of policy processes, so that a gender equality perspective is incorporated in all policies at all levels and at all stages, by the actors normally involved in policy-making.”

Concretely, gender mainstreaming can involve development of management systems and core activities so that they promote gender equality and a fair distribution of resources; routines and processes that do not discriminate any person based on sex/gender; and educational opportunities that are equally available to everybody regardless of sex/gender and other power regimes.

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Future issues up for debate and decision at University Board meeting

Every term the University Board has an extended meeting away from Uppsala to provide an opportunity for a more in-depth discussion of strategic issues for the future. This time we travelled to Lund and yesterday we completed the more formal part of the meeting. As usual, I kicked off the meeting with the Vice-Chancellor’s report (in Swedish) on what’s happened since our last meeting and what’s going on at the University.

In recent weeks the procedure for appointing a Vice-Chancellor at Uppsala University has been discussed intensively both inside and outside the University. The issue has generated a lot of interest. While the debate has been about the procedure, it also impinges on the issue of the University’s autonomy and has become a matter of principle. I am impressed by the responsibility staff and students have shown by engaging with the issue.

After adjustment, the proposed procedure will be circulated in the University for comments – it will be sent out on Monday 31 October. I think it’s good that staff and students have a proper chance to express their opinions before the University Board takes a decision in December. Ahead of the meeting today, I asked the Board for a clarification in the proposal regarding the matter of extending the mandate of the Vice-Chancellor in office, and also informed the Board that I would be happy to continue as Vice-Chancellor for another three years – if this is what the University wants. The proposal is now available here (in Swedish).

At today’s meeting, Uppsala University Research Strategies was adopted. This document provides a picture of the current situation and a strategic direction for the future. With its breadth and multiple areas of strength, Uppsala University stands well equipped to face the future. We have the capability and the desire to conduct research that proceeds from both the challenges facing society and issues intrinsic to scholarly enquiry.

During the day, the University Board also had scope to discuss one of the issues I feel most strongly about – strategic skills provision. We want to be able to attract the very best researchers and teachers. That being so, it’s important that we can offer creative, stimulating research environments and good conditions. This autumn’s dialogues with the disciplinary domains will focus on this issue. We also found time to begin a discussion on the provision of premises in a longer-term perspective. These are important issues that we will come back to in various forums.

Today the Board will continue with discussions on infrastructure – an important future issue for our University. We will visit two facilities that are important for us – Max IV and ESS. Uppsala University is the largest user of Max IV. The Freia hall at Ångström is a test facility for ESS and Kristina Edström leads the international research school at ESS. Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor Joseph Nordgren will introduce today’s programme and give an overview of infrastructure at national level and our own internal work on this issue.

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Uppsala University’s model for educational evaluation

(Original Swedish post published 25 October, English version published 8 November.)

Today I took a decision adopting Uppsala University’s model for educational evaluation, guidelines and financing. Many people have paved the way for this decision over a period of several years. For instance, the CrED panel, which proposed it back in 2012, and the working group I appointed on 14 March 2015 with instructions to present proposals on a model for systematic educational evaluation at Uppsala University. The working group, led by Vice-Rector Torsten Svensson, submitted its proposals to the Vice-Chancellor on 1 March 2016. These proposals were then circulated for comment to disciplinary domain boards/faculty boards, student unions, the University Library and the University Administration, which all contributed constructive proposals on improvements.

The Quality Council, led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg, has shepherded the proposal through to today’s decision, with Åsa Kettis and Maria Wolters giving expert guidance all along the way. One of the reasons we are now taking this step is that the Swedish Higher Education Authority has changed its evaluations and in future will examine quality assurance work at higher education institutions rather than evaluating programmes as it used to do. To facilitate implementation, I have also decided that close to SEK 12 million will be set aside to finance the work of the disciplinary domains on the model for educational evaluation. Initially, in 2017, the disciplinary domains will start out with pilot projects and within a period of six years all programmes are planned to have undergone systematic quality assurance and quality enhancement.

You’ll have to excuse me, I simply have to present the whole decision.

Today I, as Vice-Chancellor, decided:

To establish guidelines for Uppsala University’s model for educational evaluation.

That domain/faculty boards are to:

– develop modes and routines for systematic quality assurance and quality enhancement of the domain’s or the faculty’s education from an all-round perspective, including annual follow-up and educational evaluation;

– conduct and report on at least one educational evaluation pilot project per disciplinary domain in 2017 (see the decision Pilot round of educational evaluations 2017);

– evaluate all education in the domain/faculty over a six-year cycle (2017–2022);

– actively contribute to experience and knowledge exchange on quality assurance and enhancement across faculty and domain boundaries (contribute evaluators to other faculties/domains and to organised and informal experience exchange);

– submit to the Vice-Chancellor by 16 June 2017 a provisional plan for all educational evaluations in the six-year cycle 2017–2022;

– report to the Vice-Chancellor by 28 February 2018 the domain’s or faculty’s modes and routines for educational evaluation and annual follow-up;

– submit to the Vice-Chancellor by 20 February 2018 a detailed description of the domain’s or faculty’s modes and routines for quality assurance and quality enhancement in education. These descriptions will be incorporated in the quality assurance and enhancement programme when it is revised;

– conduct, during the first half of 2020, a simplified evaluation of (i) quality assurance and enhancement efforts in the domain/faculty, with a focus on modes and routines for annual follow-up and educational evaluation, and (ii) university-wide support, so that routines and methods can be improved even in the course of the current six-year cycle. The evaluation is to cover the perspectives of all concerned (domain/faculty board, other persons responsible for education, teachers and other staff involved in education, and students). Results and proposed measures are to be presented in brief to the Vice-Chancellor by 30 June 2020.

That the above evaluation within domains/faculties is to be followed by revision of the university-wide guidelines if necessary.

That central university support will be evaluated by at least two external colleagues and at least one internal colleague from each disciplinary domain within the framework of the six-year cycle.

That the University Director is to ensure appropriate central university support, including: knowledge support in the design of evaluations and follow-up (including written recommendations); implementation of student barometer surveys and an annual conference; compilation of a quality report; and development of key indicators as a basis for educational follow-up.

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IVA delegation on Gotland, Health Summit and more

(Original Swedish post published 16 October, English version published 9 November.)

Each year, King Carl Gustaf makes two trips organised by IVA (the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences) – one abroad and one in Sweden. This year the destinations were Japan and Gotland, and the Vice-Chancellor had the pleasure of participating in both. Unfortunately the King couldn’t come because of back problems so the trip to Gotland had to go ahead without him. The delegation consisted of around 20 representatives from the public sector, the business sector and the University. It was a busy programme, starting out at Campus Gotland, where researchers, teachers and students gave presentations on sustainable tourism, cultural heritage, wind power and game design. Next came Science Park and a lively presentation by the IT company Pickit, lunch at the craft centre Mejeriet and then on to the agricultural centre Gotland Grönt Centrum, where we heard about the Moving Floor concept (self-cleaning floors in animal facilities) and saw a lamb-shearing demonstration. We had time for a short visit to Wisby breweries before dinner at the Residence, hosted by County Governor Cecilia Schelin Seidegård. On day two, the destinations were Cementa AB, Slite and Bungenäs, with a lunchtime presentation of BRS Networks AB. Major-General Karl Engelbrektson, the Swedish Army Chief of Staff, gave a presentation on the security situation during the trip back to Visby, where the visit concluded at the Swedish National Heritage Board. Uppsala University and Campus Gotland in particular came up in many presentations and conversations at most of the venues. It was easy to be a very proud Vice-Chancellor.


At the same time as the Gotland trip, the third Uppsala Health Summit was in progress, on this occasion in the historic and surprisingly functional conference premises at Uppsala Castle. The theme on this occasion was “Ending Childhood Obesity – Actions through Health and Food Equity”. Around 180 participants were offered a well-planned and varied programme including plenary lectures, workshops and regular aerobics sessions with instructors and children from Friskis&Svettis. Uppsala Health Summit is well on the way to being the well-established international forum the initiative aimed for. Eight partners now stand behind Uppsala Health Summit – Uppsala University, the Swedish University of Agricultrual Sciences, Uppsala Municipality, Uppsala County Council, World Class Uppsala, the National Veterinary Institute, the Medical Products Agency and the National Food Agency. Uppsala University is the host organisation and Deputy Vice-Chancellor Anders Malmberg chairs the steering group. The project team, headed by Madeleine Neil, does a fantastic job along with all the hard-working members of the annual programme committee, led this time by Professor Richard Landberg.


Otherwise, the week began with a department visit. This time we visited the Department of Modern Languages. We would like to say thank you and to emphasise how important these visits are for us. Learning about day-to-day activities at the departments, reasons for satisfaction and causes of concern, enables us to carry out our management responsibilities better.

On Friday evening it was time for the staff party at UKK – more than 600 people were there having a good time together. That’s about 10% of the staff, who enjoyed a festive evening with good food, entertainment (Bröderna Rongedal) and each other’s pleasant company. Thank you to all the organisers, much appreciated.


On Saturday Uppsala received a visit from the foreign minister of El Salvador, Hugo Martínez, who was accompanied by his country’s Stockholm ambassador Anita Escher Echeverría. Anders Malmberg and Municipality President Carl Lindberg hosted a lunch at the Walmstedt House, before the minister moved on to open a Salvadoran film festival at Slottsbiografen.


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Nobel prizes, deans meeting and the Zorn Museum

(Original Swedish post published 7 October, English version published 9 November.)

This week the winners of this year’s Nobel prizes for scientific discoveries for the “benefit of humanity” were revealed. It’s always just as exciting. Now we know who will receive the Nobel prizes in medicine, physics and chemistry. On Monday the winner of the economics prize will be announced and on Thursday next week we will know who will receive the literature prize. We have been ready to contact the prizewinners the moment they’re announced, inviting them to lecture here in Uppsala on 13 December, as is the tradition. This year we have high hopes. Several prizewinners have links with Uppsala. The winner of the Nobel Prize in physics, from Tokyo Tech, visited the University two years ago. One of the prizewinners in chemistry, Bernard L. Feringa, comes from Groningen, one of our partner universities in the U4 network.

This week we had a visit from a delegation from Tübingen, one of our sister universities in the Matariki network. A group of no less than 17 people, spearheaded by the Vice-Chancellor, visited us for three days. They met us in the management, the vice-rectors, fellow researchers and parts of the administration. Talking to colleagues about what we do is useful and opens up new perspectives on our own activities.

The deans meeting also gave us new perspectives. Once a term, the whole management, vice-rectors, all the deans, students and parts of the administration have a lunch-to-lunch meeting. This time we were at Stora Brännbo Conference & Hotel in Sigtuna. It gave us a chance to talk about current concerns. The meeting was kicked off by future analyst Troed Troedsson, who set the tone of the meeting with a challenging and inspiring lecture on the future. How should we, as a university, meet a changing world in which competition is increasing? How are we to maintain and strengthen our position? How are we to renew our activities, seek and explore new opportunities? What can we do in the short and the long term?


We continued to think about the future in terms of availability of premises and a development plan for the University for 2050, but also infrastructure issues. The agenda also included the way we work on strategic skills provision, recruitment and the procedure for appointing a Vice-Chancellor at the University, as well as a session on the lessons Uppsala University can learn from the Macchiarini affair. As usual, the discussions were very stimulating, spirited and useful. A free and open atmosphere, sharp arguments and many different opinions. This is good for Uppsala University – in the short and the long term.


Today, on 7 October, our University is 539 years old, and I’m off to Mora to open the exhibition “Art treasures from Uppsala University”. With the University Main Building closed for renovations, we’re taking the opportunity to exhibit our art at the Zorn Museum, between 8 October 2016 and 5 March 2017.  Never before have so many important works of art from Uppsala University been sent on loan to an exhibition. One theme explored in the exhibition is the many links between the artist Anders Zorn and Uppsala, its university and its art collection. The exhibition is a joint project between the Zorn Museum and Gustavianum, the Uppsala University museum.


A visit to the Zorn Museum this winter is a must, is what I have to say after the opening. Our art treasures can be seen literally in a new light and I really can recommend a visit warmly. Many thanks to all of you who have made this possible.


Now I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a good weekend! For me, it’s the Student Run tomorrow, I’ll be doing 5 km at a gentle amble, but University Director Katarina Bjelke will be doing 10 km at a completely different pace.


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