Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: March 2018

Double EU funding for research and education

The EU budget for research, innovation and education needs to be doubled. This could lead to 650,000 new jobs and enable the EU to become a global leader in areas like sustainable energy, smart buildings and vehicles, infectious diseases, and the circular economy. An investment of this kind would also stimulate more inclusive societies, increase sustainable growth and reduce inequality in Europe. These are the main messages in a joint statement from 12 networks centred around European universities. Uppsala University is a member of three of the signatory networks (the Guild, Coimbra and EUA) and is therefore one of the universities behind this call for action.

Although Horizon 2020 is the largest framework programme, providing EUR 80 billion for research and innovation over a seven-year period to date, it is underfunded. The current budget supports less than 1 out of 5 high-quality projects and although Erasmus+ promotes mobility and employability, student mobility remains far below the target set in the Bologna Process.

As signatory of the call for action, Uppsala University shares the picture and analysis of the situation, which also shows that a doubling of the budget would still not be a substitute for strong support for, and investment in, research, innovation and education at national level. Success depends on a combination of adequate national investments in research and education and increased EU funding. The statement therefore underlines that the European institutions must encourage Member States more forcefully to meet their commitments in the framework of the European Research Area (ERA) and the European Higher Education Area (EHEA).

Universities are strong and committed partners in the search for solutions to future societal challenges and in boosting EU competitiveness, regional development and sustainability. The networks look forward to working with the EU institutions to make European research, innovation and education programmes even stronger than they are today.

Read the call for action

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Bissen Brainwalk, Open Day, Friends of Uppsala University

(Original Swedish post)

A university like ours buzzes with activity nearly every day of the year. It can be fun to have a look at our events page now and then to see everything that’s going on – see http:// www.kalendarium.uu.se

On Thursday the University held its annual Open Day – an event designed to inspire upper secondary school pupils and others who are curious about our educational programmes. In the morning, the nearly 950 visitors had a chance to meet researchers, study advisers and students from various degree programmes in the University Main Building. The afternoon continued with visits to departments and student associations. I hope I will be able to welcome some of them to Uppsala University as new students this autumn.

Uppsala University teaches more than 55 language subjects. Language studies also mean students learn about literature, history, society and culture. On Friday we had a visit from the Irish Minister for Culture and the Ambassador of Ireland to Sweden. Every year they present scholarships to students studying Celtic languages at Uppsala University. After the scholarship award ceremony, the meeting continued and included discussions of Ireland’s role after Brexit.

On Saturday the sun shone from a blue sky. The University and the city together welcomed the Swedish bandy finals back to Uppsala. With temperatures a degree or two below zero, the conditions for a bandy festival were perfect. For the second year in a row, Uppsala University had the privilege of working with Mattias ‘Bissen’ Larsson to arrange a Bissen Brainwalk for the benefit of brain research. ‘Bissen’ suffered a stroke in mid-life and received treatment and help at Uppsala University Hospital. As part of his rehabilitation, he started the ‘Bissen Brainwalk’. He has raised more than SEK 5 million through this charitable event. Before we set off on the walk, participants had a chance to put questions to brain researchers from the Department of Neuroscience. There was a great deal of interest. More than 600 people then walked to Studenternas arena, led by Kruthornen student orchestra, to watch the women’s final between Skutskär and AIK. I also watched the men’s final a little later.

This week started with a meeting of the Council of the University of Tartu. Uppsala University and the University of Tartu share a long history together and it feels pleasing to continue this tradition. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor took care of the Management Council meeting back in Uppsala.

Now I look forward to another week full of inspiring meetings. On Wednesday we will meet the Friends of Uppsala University. Together with our researchers we will talk about what’s going on at the University, and then we will give the Friends a guided tour of the Segerstedt Building. On Thursday I have a meeting with the Göran Gustavsson Foundation. They contribute in many ways to the University’s development and I am very pleased that they are coming to visit.

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Wintry day in Visby for the Management Council

(Original Swedish post)

At least once a year, the Management Council meets on Gotland. Last Monday, it was time again. We left Uppsala early in the morning and arrived in a beautiful, snowy Visby in time for mid-morning coffee.

Before lunch, the Management Council held its ordinary meeting. The main question on the agenda was how to create scope for renewal in education and research. At the moment we have some scope for expansion and want to use it to launch new initiatives. The disciplinary domains have identified desirable new initiatives, which we discussed together with a view to arriving at University-wide priorities. All the disciplinary domains have good proposals and ambitious aims. One question that came up in particular is how to facilitate boundary-crossing courses drawing on the entire breadth of the University. Discussions will continue.

When we are on Gotland, we take the opportunity to meet as many people as possible, to listen and to see as much of the University’s activities as we can. At the same time, it gives us a chance to talk about what’s going on in Uppsala. During lunch, we visited Campus Gotland’s students’ union Rindi (which means ‘ivy’ in the local dialect Gutnish). Rindi has its premises in the old Jugendstil bathhouse right next to Almedalen. The most urgent issue for students at the moment is the availability of student housing year round in Visby. In the summer, Visby’s population expands by more than 300,000, so the pressure on accommodation varies substantially in the course of the year. Another priority issue is how to integrate the increasing numbers of international students coming to Gotland.

The afternoon continued with a strategic discussion on the development of Campus Gotland. This year it is five years since Uppsala University and Gotland University College merged and Campus Gotland was established, so it is natural to look both backwards and forwards. So far it has been a success story. We have accomplished a lot but we want to do more. In December, the University Board adopted a new programme for Campus Gotland. Now we are working on making the visions a reality – more students on campus, increased internationalisation, stronger research environments, more multi- and interdisciplinarity, regional collaboration.

In the longer term, a fifth of the students on Gotland will be international students. The University has two Bachelor’s programmes in English, which are given in Visby, and more will start in the autumn. What sort of demands does this make on teaching, support and service? We also want the number of doctoral students on Campus Gotland to increase. What are the challenges? Gotland is a suitable campus for boundary-crossing cooperation between departments – why is it so difficult to achieve this? Many of the challenges are the same throughout the University. The discussion made it clear that Campus Gotland can help develop solutions that will benefit the entire University.

In the afternoon we also had time for a well-attended staff meeting. The Vice-Chancellor, vice-rectors and University Director had a chance to talk about current issues in their area and to focus in particular on all that is going on at Campus Gotland.

We concluded the day by meeting politicians and officials from the local authority Region Gotland. It was pleasing to be able to show them figures illustrating the positive developments at Campus Gotland – all the trends really do point in the right direction. We have doubled our direct government funding for research, student numbers are up, more degree programmes are offered, more teachers are in place. Visby is now a real university town, and feels it. The presence of more students makes a difference to Visby in many ways, all year round. We had a chance to take up the need for housing, as well as the question of ways to support accompanying family members when recruiting more teachers, researchers and doctoral students. There is a lot of willingness from all actors on Gotland and the climate of cooperation is good. It was also fascinating to hear about developments on Gotland, low unemployment, high business start-up rates, the strategic position with a growing military presence, the growth of tourism and hospitality, etc. The challenges include skills shortages and the demographic trend. There is a great potential for cooperation and our partnership agreement provides a solid basis for collaboration.

After a really good day, we headed back to Uppsala. Campus Gotland is a meeting place for knowledge, culture and critical dialogue, just like Uppsala University as a whole, but in its own special way. It is a unique place, and an academic environment that provides unique opportunities for Gotland, and for all of Uppsala University.

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Deans Day in the Humanities Theatre

(Original Swedish post)

The Humanities Theatre is one of the University’s new meeting places for boundary-crossing dialogue and discussion. It was also the venue for the spring semester’s deans meeting. This is an occasion that brings together the University management, all the deans, vice-deans, student representatives and senior officers for mutual exchange of information and strategic discussions about the future. We – the Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Vice-Chancellor – started proceedings by presenting results for 2017 from the annual report and the budget documentation for 2019–2021, as well as current national inquiries on higher education. We also reminded those present of our general strategic priorities: quality, career and professional development, internationalisation and infrastructure.

The morning’s programme continued with Eva Tiensuu Jansson, who talked about EIT Health. This is a major European collaboration project ranging from education and training to collaboration and innovation, linked to the societal challenge of health for an ageing population. The activities so far are impressive. We saw film clips from the student EIT Health projects Innovation Day and Innovation Game on Gotland. We’re sure this opened the eyes of many in the auditorium to new possibilities for cooperation.

One of the most urgent issues facing all universities globally is confidence in research and how to tackle and prevent research misconduct. The chair of our own Board for Investigation of Misconduct in Research, Erik Lempert, described how we currently deal with alleged misconduct at the University. Our new Adviser to the Vice-Chancellor on Good Research Practice, Stefan Eriksson, presented current research in the area. These days it is possible to buy co-authorship and citations – an alarming development. The academic environment can be both competitive and stressful, which can lead to a temptation to take shortcuts. How can we prevent this? Many questions came up and the discussion will continue in various ways, among the deans and at departments, as well as in the seminar series on this topic that will start in the autumn.

Our three vice-rectors told us what’s in the pipeline in their disciplinary domains. It’s pleasing to see how everyone is processing the results from Q&R17 and hear about exciting development projects and new ventures in education, collaboration and innovation. It’s good for everyone to know what’s going on, even in areas other than their own. After that it was the students’ turn to raise their focus issues for this semester. Some of the important issues for our students’ unions are housing dialogues with the municipality, an analysis of how course reports are used, and preparations for student participation in upcoming educational evaluations.

After lunch, we heard about the work on Development Plan 2050, which is being led by Vice-Rector Johan Tysk, assisted by Annika Sundås-Larsson from the Buildings Division. They were accompanied by representatives from Uppsala Municipality and Akademiska Hus. We divided into groups to discuss student housing, safety and security, the physical environment, artificial intelligence, regional collaboration and much more besides.

It is almost five years since Campus Gotland was established through the merger with Gotland University College. Therese Iverby Gardell and Olle Jansson summed up what has happened and took the opportunity to dismiss a few myths. They looked both backwards and forwards. We have achieved a great deal, we have more students, stability in terms of resources and quality assurance, and there’s a feeling of confidence. Much remains to be done, however, and the full potential has not yet been realised. Just as the Q&R panel observed, the point of Campus Gotland is not to be a miniature version of Uppsala University, but to be a place for renewal, multi- and interdisciplinarity, internationalisation and regional collaboration.

Some of the new research initiatives at Campus Gotland concern the changeover to new energy sources, cultural heritage, sustainable marine development and water supplies, children’s health, digitalisation, and tourism and hospitality. Many of these involve collaboration with the region.

The programme for the day concluded with a presentation by Mats Larhed on the University’s work on Charter & Code. This is important to ensure that Uppsala University continues to be an attractive work environment and to facilitate international recruitment. In the future, it could become a requirement for EU funding. Eighteen of nineteen universities in The Guild are certified – all except Uppsala University. Certification leads to the ‘HR Excellence in Research’ award, and to achieve this we have to comply with 40 principles. We already comply with many of them, but some work remains to be done.

As the day came to a close, we agreed we had had a really good day. A packed programme with good discussions and dialogue, on matters that are important in the immediate future as well as in the really long term. We have a fantastic university full of people with constructive ideas who are eager to participate in discussions on the future of our university both in Uppsala and on Gotland.

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