2018 Important Year for the Future of Higher Education

The holidays are over and 2018 is in full swing. I hope you had a good couple of weeks of rest and relaxation and that you feel ready to take on the spring semester.

It will be an exciting year. A big thing going on right now is the government inquiry on the future governance and funding of Swedish higher education institutions – Styrning för starka och ansvarsfulla lärosäten. As most of you know, the inquiry is led by former vice-chancellor Pam Fredman, who has been instructed to present a final report by early December.

We received some preliminary information about Fredman’s progress already at the end of last year, and last week in connection with a dialogue seminar arranged by the Association of Swedish Higher Education (SUHF), she and her team presented a first draft of the new governance and resource allocation model.

The biggest change proposed in the draft is that the basic resources provided by the government will be received as one big lump sum instead of through two separate pipelines – one for research and one for education – which is the case today. If implemented, the partly revolutionary proposal will be beneficial in many ways, but there are also some question marks about how certain things will work in practice.

As for the main advantages of receiving all the money in one bag, I foresee increased flexibility and better opportunities for long-term planning. At the same time, however, it will give us a greater responsibility for how the resources are used, which in turn will require more advanced strategic planning and improved interaction and cooperation both internally and externally. Ultimately, the proposed model will require all of us to take a greater responsibility for our autonomy, and as part of this we need to more deeply discuss the role of universities in society.

We will now have a chance to provide feedback on the proposal. The first opportunity to do so is planned for 1 February, when the inquiry team is organising one of several feedback meetings. One of the things I’m personally wondering about is what the proposed 4-year assignment agreements with various parties will look like in practice. This is just one among several issues that need to be talked about, and I’m really looking forward to the discussion.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Malmö University, which was re-inaugurated by Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research Helene Hellmark Knutsson earlier this week after making the transition from university college to full-blown university. Good luck!

Eva Wiberg

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This post is also available in: svSvenska

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