Uppsala University, Sweden

Month: June 2018

Summer is here!

Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor
Anders Malmberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

After a busy spring semester, a much-needed summer break beckons. For many people at the University, Almedalen Week has become the academic year’s grand finale. This year, Uppsala University is organising some 50 seminars during the week. We will also be participating in debates and trying to draw attention to important issues for the University and for Swedish education and research. On top of this, we will be celebrating Campus Gotland’s fifth anniversary as part of Uppsala University.

The Campus Gotland sign being unveiled for the official opening on 1 July 2013.

For those of us in the University Management, the spring semester, as always, has involved a wide variety of events and duties. We have had many visits (for example, from the President of Iceland and the UN Secretary-General) and made a number of trips (Eva’s visit to South Africa with SASUF [link] and Anders’s trip to Japan for the opening of the Uppsala exhibition “The Art of Natural Science” at Tokyo University Museum [link] were probably the most memorable).

In the international arena, we are active in various networks, right now probably most intensively in the Guild (where Eva is a board member) and the U4 network, which has become more relevant than ever as a possible pilot for the new European Universities initiative planned by the European Commission.

In the national arena, we have been active above all in the discussions on governance and resources, internationalisation, and quality systems – in the context of ongoing government inquiries and current Swedish Higher Education Authority tasks.

Internally at the University, apart from the major spring undertaking of the operational plan and budget for 2019, we have above all continued to focus on issues that emerged clearly as areas for development in the Quality and Renewal 2017 evaluation: strengthening the University’s strategic capacity for renewal, developing the role of head of department, improving our career systems and developing the University as an international environment for work and study. We have also started a project on the long-term development of the University’s physical environment (Development Plan 2050), led by Johan Tysk, and a revision of the University’s Mission and Core Values, which Anders will lead.

These are a few examples of what has kept the University Management busy this spring. We hope it all helps create enabling conditions for the activities that are the point and purpose of the University: the research that generates new and important knowledge, the education that equips people to make valuable contributions to society, and the collaboration that opens doors for tomorrow’s solutions to technical, social, cultural and environmental challenges.

Thank you for the privilege of working at Uppsala University with you.

We wish you all an enjoyable summer. See you in the autumn!

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University Board’s June meeting

(Original Swedish post published 15 June.)

On Thursday the University Board held its last meeting of the semester. As always, the Vice-Chancellor started proceedings with a report on events since the previous meeting. The focus this time was on the international activities and networks in which the University participates, together with some trendspotting from the Swedish Higher Education Authority’s annual report.

The students on the University Board – three ordinary members and two alternates – are appointed by the students’ unions for one year at a time. We are proud in Uppsala of the organised student influence we have at all levels of the University, from department boards to the University Board, and in all other groupings that work for the good of our University. This year it is 50 years since the students knocked at the door of the University Board in the University Main Building and demanded to be represented on the Board. Vice-Chancellor Torgny Segerstedt (who led the University from 1955 to 1978) was the person who saw to it that the University got the broad student participation we see today. The June meeting marks the changeover in these positions on the Board, so this was the last meeting for the outgoing student members and the first for the incoming lot, who attended to learn the ropes. Thank you, Rozbe, Martin, Megha, Sofie and Felix, for your contributions this past year, and welcome, Carl, Therese, Sanne, Fredrik and Mathias! Fredrik Pettersson and Sanne Rönning were chosen as new members of the Staff Disciplinary Board and the Audit Committee.

Margaretha Edman Bojeus presented the Swedish National Audit Office’s audit plan. During the next operational year, the National Audit Office will look in particular at the change of financial management system and the introduction of Ladok3. They will also analyse the IT environment and examine in particular the relationship between the University and the holding company.

The University Board was also briefed on the implementation of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) at the University and our personal data processing.

At the University Board’s June meeting, a decision is taken on the University’s operational plan for next year and the planning frameworks for the University’s research, education and other activities over the next three years. Uppsala University will continue to take a proactive and future-oriented approach. The basic appropriations for research are increasing, which enables the University to make new investments in more career development positions, a continuation of the visiting researcher programme and more doctoral students in the humanities and social sciences. The appropriations for education are also increasing. This will enable the University to start several new programmes in autumn 2019 – no less than seven Master’s programmes (Russian, Russian studies, digital humanities, medical imaging, innovative medicine and two programmes in the Faculty of Pharmacy), a new Master’s level engineering programme in industrial economics and a new Bachelor’s level engineering programme in medical technology.

The universities in Sweden cooperate on infrastructure for research, and the costs are rising. In principle, the disciplinary domains are expected to deal with this as far as possible. However, sometimes the projects are so big that the whole university has to contribute, for example to the running of Max IV in Lund, and FREIA, SNIC and SciLifeLab here in Uppsala. The costs of data storage are also increasing. The storage of research data is particularly important for ‘open data’ and to make data available to researchers all over the world. Other new items in the operational plan included long-term planning conditions for Campus Gotland, a rent equalisation model for when the University needs new buildings and consolidated allocations to the University Library. The operational plan will be published in full on uu.se and on the intranet (Medarbetarportalen) following adjustment.

The operational planning process actually carries on year round. It concerns overall priorities and the allocation of tasks and direct government funding to the disciplinary domains. The University continues to prioritise strategic work on quality, internationalisation, infrastructure and skills supply. The three-year perspective gives better and more stable planning conditions for all the University’s departments.

The University Board also received a report from the working group on a revision of the rules of procedure, before Johan Tysk and Annica Sundås Larsson concluded by presenting the project Development Plan 2050.
The meeting concluded with a lunch on the terrace of Carolina Rediviva and a guided tour of some of the treasures hidden away in the University Library. Now the University Board will take a break over the summer and resume its work in the autumn with a first meeting in September.

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Guild Presidents call on Horizon Europe and Erasmus to strengthen Europe’s global position in science, education, and innovation

Guild Presidents call on Horizon Europe and Erasmus to strengthen Europe’s global position in science, education, and innovation

We welcome the European Commission’s proposals for establishing Horizon Europe and Erasmus for 2021–2027. We fully support the Commission’s plans to double the budget for Erasmus to strengthen the mobility, employability and European identity of students and further boost the international competitiveness of universities. We also welcome Horizon Europe’s ambition to stimulate the excellence-based competition of ideas across borders, bring together the best researchers to contribute to Europe’s ability to face global challenges and address its most pressing societal needs.

Research, education and innovation must be at the core of the EU’s future vision. Hence, we welcome Horizon Europe’s new approaches including: aligning the Global Challenges pillar with the Sustainable Development Goals and increasing the budget for ‘sharing’ excellence to overcome the research and innovation divide between different parts of Europe. As research-intensive universities we also welcome the European Innovation Council’s support in bridging the gap between research and innovation.

However, Europe’s global position in science and innovation requires a much higher level of ambition in the following areas:

  • Europe must invest in proven success. We call for the European Research Council’s (ERC) share to increase to at least 25% of the overall budget of Horizon Europe, and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions to at least 12%. This will give Europe the necessary boost to sustain its leadership in global science, as no other research council worldwide has higher scientific impact than the ERC. Ambitious investments in frontier-led science will also reinforce the goals of the European Innovation Council as demonstrated by previous Framework Programmes. For instance, in FP7 17% of the budget spent on the ERC led to 29% of all patent applications generated by the programme.
  • Fostering world-class scientific excellence must remain both the fundamental goal and the guiding principle of Horizon Europe, especially in the Open Science and Global Challenges pillars. This should also be reflected in the selection of evaluators, scientific panels, and advisory groups.
  • Horizon Europe’s Global Challenges pillar must be based on strong support for research collaboration, focusing on low Technology-Readiness Levels (TRL).
  • To maximise its impact on citizens’ lives, it is crucial that Horizon Europe fosters collaborative research in all disciplines in the Global Challenges pillar. This requires active steps to ensure and monitor the effective integration of the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities across the thematic clusters.

Universities are unique in their mission of generating new knowledge, educating the next generation of citizens, and in engaging with businesses, the public sector and civil society. Therefore, we underline the importance of decisionmakers’ support for the realisation of both the European Research Area and the European Education Area. European science, education and innovation must be globally competitive to address our most profound medical, social, or environmental challenges that know no boundaries. We call on the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission to realise the high levels of ambition by substantially increasing the investment in frontier-led research.


Brian Bech Nielsen, Aarhus University

Christian Leumann, University of Bern

Francesco Ubertini,University of Bologna

Rik Van de Walle, Ghent University

Anton Muscatelli, University of Glasgow

Ulrike Beisiegel, University of Göttingen

Sibrand Poppema, University of Groningen

Wojciech Nowak, Jagiellonian University

Ed Byrne, King’s College London

Igor Papič, University of Ljubljana

Vincent Blondel, University of Louvain

Svein Stølen, University of Oslo

Christine Clerici, Paris Diderot University

Daniël Wigboldus, Radboud University

Toomas Asser, University of Tartu

Bernd Engler, University of Tübingen

Eva Åkesson, Uppsala University

Heinz Engl, University of Vienna

Stuart Croft, University of Warwick

About the Guild

Founded in 2016, the Guild comprises nineteen of Europe’s most distinguished research-intensive universities in fourteen countries and is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students. The Guild is committed to the pursuit of excellence, the importance of truth-seeking and trust-building as the foundation of public life, and the creation of new knowledge for the benefit of society, culture, and economic growth.

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Horizon Europe

(Original Swedish post published 6 June 2018.)

On Thursday this week, the European Commission will present its proposed framework programme for research and innovation for the period 2021–2027, currently designated ‘Horizon Europe’. So it was very timely that the Guild held its General Assembly at the beginning of this week, 4–5 June, and that it had invited the Commission’s new Director-General for Research and Innovation, Jean-Eric Paquet, to attend. Together with the other members of the Guild, Uppsala University has argued for a doubling of the EU’s budget for research and education, and many other universities and networks support this demand.

The EU framework programmes are important for European universities. They are intended as a strategic tool complementing and reinforcing national actions in the areas of research, education and innovation. When Horizon Europe is presented on Thursday, the process of negotiations will start. We think it is important that education and research are placed to the fore and that the budget is increased. A new member was elected to the Board of Directors of the Guild, Svein Stölen from the University of Oslo. Vincent Blondel, University of Louvain, chairs the Board and I will be vice-chair for another two-year period.

Vincent Blondel, Chair

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, from the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture, was also invited to the Guild meeting. She told us that President Macron’s ideas about European Universities are beginning to take more and more definite shape. Another network to which Uppsala University belongs, U4, has plans to put together an application for the pilot phase of this initiative, together with the University of Tartu. We know that a proposal has been made to double the budget for the Erasmus programmes from the present level and that there are plans pointing towards a reorganisation in Europe that will bring research, education and collaboration into closer contact, which we would welcome.

All in all, it was a rewarding meeting with interesting discussions and there is a good climate of cooperation among the 19 universities that are members of the Guild. And it will be interesting to see what the Commission proposes on Thursday. After a cancelled flight from Brussels and then further delays, it feels good to see Uppsala silhouetted against the beautiful night sky and to know I will soon be home. Tomorrow I will be at the National Day celebrations at Skansen.

Founded in 2016, the Guild comprises nineteen of Europe’s most distinguished research-intensive universities in fourteen countries, and is dedicated to enhancing the voice of academic institutions, their researchers and their students. The Guild is committed to the pursuit of excellence, the importance of truth-seeking and trust-building as the foundation of public life, and the creation of new knowledge for the benefit of society, culture, and economic growth.

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Spring Conferment Ceremony, 1 June 2018

(Original Swedish post published 1 June.)

The doctoral degree conferment ceremony is celebrated at Uppsala as nowhere else. This fine summer’s day, the city of Uppsala awoke to the sound of cannon salutes announcing the University’s celebrations. As tradition dictates, we then filled the Grand Auditorium in the University Main Building to celebrate the Spring Conferment Ceremony, at which no less than 166 new doctors and 36 jubilee doctors were the focus of attention. The programme was both solemn and interesting. The degree conferrer of the Faculty of Arts, Professor Birgitta Meurling, gave a lecture on “Crinoline, corset, caftan – on clothes, gender and cultural analysis”. The President of Uppsala Student Union, law student Max Stenberg, paid tribute to this year’s jubilee doctors. Our own magnificent orchestra, the Royal Academic Orchestra, played under the baton of conductor Stefan Karpe.

It was just the way it should be – a real Uppsala conferment ceremony! Many thanks to everyone involved and sincere congratulations to our new doctors and jubilee doctors.

Study visit ahead of the Spring Conferment Ceremony


Read the Vice-Chancellor’s speech.

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