Midsummer will be here in a few days and holidays lie ahead. Much has happened since the semester kicked off with the freshers’ reception and winter conferment ceremony. It seems a long time since we celebrated our new doctoral graduates, honorary doctors and prizewinners to the sound of cannon salutes fired by Jämtlands fältartilleri in a snowy Uppsala.
It was also in January that Sweden – finally – had a new government. In February, the Government Inquiry on Governance and Resources delivered its report. We are not entirely happy with it. We are concerned that the inquiry’s proposals – despite many good intentions – in practice pave the way for more micromanagement. These concerns are voiced in the consultation response approved by the University Board last week.
Towards the end of the winter, the principles of academic publishing came to the fore as never before in a debate fuelled by the transition to Open Access and more specifically ‘Plan S’. The question of accessibility and opportunities for everyone to access scholarly publications is vital and complex. Our position is that we should think before we leap and ensure that the transition to Open Access is made while respecting academic freedom and the quality assurance promoted by high quality journals. The debate continues.
Around the same time, we delivered our response to the Internationalisation Inquiry, in which we argue that the universities need greater freedom of action. Our practical experience in this area shows that micromanagement by the government makes us slow and ineffective.
Throughout the spring we have been working on a European University Alliance proposal with our friends in the U4 network, enlarged by the University of Tartu to become U4Society. A decision is due at the end of June. If our proposal is approved, we will become an even stronger hub in the development of the European university arena.
We celebrated the last day of April, Walpurgis Eve (Valborg), in style, with Orphei Drängar male-voice choir singing beneath the balcony of the University Library and traditional celebrations in the evening at the Gunilla Bell Tower, with Allmänna sången choir and Curator Curatorum’s speech.
Just after Valborg, Carolina Rediviva reopened after renovation and rapidly became a favourite refuge for students cramming for exams. A week later, on 8 May, the Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society (CIRCUS) opened. CIRCUS will provide another important forum where research challenges will be identified and tackled from exciting new angles.
On 24 May it was time for the beautiful and solemn spring conferment ceremony – a worthy conclusion to many doctoral students’ intensive studies. It is pleasing to be able to celebrate these academic ceremonies together, across faculty lines, and gain a tangible picture of the breadth and global reach of our University.
This midsummer week we have enjoyed several major research successes. Vinnova (Sweden’s innovation agency) has awarded funding to eight national competence centres, of which no fewer than three are based in Uppsala. Warm congratulations to Christel Bergström (drug delivery), Kristina Edström (batteries) and Cecilia Persson (additive manufacturing for life sciences) and all your talented team members and external partners! The same day, it was announced that the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences had won funding for a major programme in the area of environmental communication from Mistra (the Swedish foundation for strategic environmental research). We are significantly involved through SWEDESD (the Swedish International Centre of Education for Sustainable Development).
Environmental and sustainability issues are increasingly prominent, not least the threat of climate change. The best way we can contribute is by educating students and through research that, at our comprehensive university, covers every aspect of these issues. The new research ventures that have won major support are concrete examples of how our research can contribute in practical ways to more sustainable development.
A sustainable future is also the theme of this year’s Almedalen Week – the final event of the spring semester for our part.
We look forward to an exciting autumn, when we will give our input to the new research bill and finalise Uppsala University’s new mission, goals and strategies document. But now we would like to thank all of you who have engaged in research, taught or studied at Uppsala University or have collaborated with us. We share your pleasure in success and endeavour to create conditions that will provide scope for your creativity to grow at Uppsala University. Our thanks also to everyone who makes demands on and supports the University in one way or another. Together we make the University a better place, semester by semester.
Have a good summer!
Eva Åkesson, Vice-Chancellor
Anders Malmberg, Deputy Vice-Chancellor