At the time of writing, the votes are still being counted in the United States, an election that has the whole world on the edge of its seat and that will have widespread repercussions in the coming years, not least for science and sustainable development.
This week and last, we have held autumn quality dialogues with the leaders of the disciplinary domains. We have similar dialogues in the spring, though with a focus on operational plans. We started these meetings a number of years ago and they are now an important part of our systematic quality assurance. The dialogues give us an opportunity to discuss the development of activities together and in depth, and every time we take new steps towards increased quality and better processes.
We discussed two key quality issues in detail. The first concerned the sharpness of our own quality assurance system. Do we manage to detect any failings that may exist and take action to remedy them? We concluded that the system works well; failings are discovered and the faculty boards tackle them. The second question that was specifically considered was course evaluations, where the review by the Swedish Higher Education Authority in the spring identified deficiencies in feedback to students. Taking comments from students into account is an important part of improving our courses and programmes, which makes it vital to motivate the students by providing thorough feedback. Efforts are currently underway in the disciplinary domains to improve matters.
We also discussed staff recruitment, retention and development. Recruiting and retaining the best people is a key issue for the future. The disciplinary domains are very aware of this issue and everyone is working on it very strategically. Moreover, all the disciplinary domains are currently developing indicators for follow-up of our Mission, Goals and Strategies statement, a substantial task that involves many people. Gender mainstreaming is also making progress, though more remains to be done.
It is inspiring for us in the central University management to hear about the ambitious activities going on in the various parts of the University. We can mention just a few examples. We were greatly impressed to hear about the approach taken in the Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy to systematic quality assurance. Well-organised and clear! The Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences is engaging in a huge commitment in interdisciplinary research on democracy and higher education – quite right, highly topical and more important than ever in our time. The Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology aims to take a leading role in developing the University’s work on lifelong learning and they have great ambitions in this area. This is very welcome.