My first time participating in the University’s conferment of doctoral degrees gave a very special feeling! It was a great experience to enter the venue together with all the excited and dressed up people and then fill the large stage at the Swedish Exhibition and Congress Centre.
I’m well aware of all the work that went into making the ceremony as perfect as it was. I’m also aware of all the work that the new doctors have invested in their degrees, and of all the support they needed and received from their friends and families from the beginning to the end of their journey. Now they have finally crossed the finish line and I hope they were able to fully enjoy every second of their special day.
And the dinner banquet was a true pleasure. With the assistance of our great musical theatre students and a wide range of staff members who contributed in various ways, it was truly an unforgettable evening. Thanks to all of you!
The Association of Swedish Higher Education’s Annual Conference – an Important Forum
The Association of Swedish Higher Education’s annual conference and general assembly meeting were held last week in Stockholm. I just returned to Gothenburg and can’t stress enough how important it is to meet colleagues on a regular basis to discuss the various challenges in our sector. The theme of the annual conference was internationalisation – an issue most of you know is very important to me.
The general assembly agenda was filled to capacity. The autonomy of higher education institutions, teacher education, infrastructure issues and open access were some of the topics discussed. We also talked a bit about what issues we would like to address and discuss a little deeper with the minister when she visits our annual vice-chancellors’ meeting in Steningevik in January.
#MeToo – a Welcome Boost Last but certainly not least, I’d like to say a few words about the ongoing #MeToo campaign. I think it’s great that a broad discussion about a problem that all women have always been aware of is finally starting. Namely that besides obvious cases of sexual harassment, there is also a structural inequality between men and women that is expressed in many different ways. One common example is men’s use of domination techniques to weaken the position and power of female colleagues, although admittedly women may also resort to such techniques.
What’s so great is that we are experiencing the early stage of a public debate that will hopefully raise awareness among all of us about problems that haven’t been visible enough in the past. Higher education does not differ from other sectors. We, too, need to be brave enough to deal with this issue, and right now we have a good opportunity to do so once and for all. Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson opened up for this through the meeting she had last week with the expert group on gender equality in higher education. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the issue of sexual harassment in academia, but they also talked about widening participation from a gender perspective, which is something the University of Gothenburg needs to give attention to as well.