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National: good meeting with new higher ed minister. Local: decision soon on Campus LiU 2015

I hope your 2015 has got off to a good start. For Linköping University this is a special year – our 40th anniversary. A key ingredient in the celebrations is an anniversary party on 28 May, so remember to reserve that date in your calendar.

Last week was the annual meeting of vice-chancellors in Steningevik, which by tradition is also attended by the minister for higher education and research. The new minister, Helene Hellmark Knutsson, was very engaged in the meeting, and a good listener. She expressed her ambition to visit every Swedish institute of higher education in the coming years, to get a complete overview of the sector.

In the society of the future we’ll need a better educated population. After several years with fewer students beginning higher education, the minister wants to increase the number of places. She spoke of broader recruitment and rejected the idea that increasing quantity leads to reduced quality. Instead she emphasised measures to improve quality, such as stronger links to the labour market, and improvements to workplace-based training, research linkages and internationalisation.

In terms of research there will be no change of direction, the minister said. She approves of the initiatives from the most recent research policy bills. Research requires a long-term approach, and the minister would like to see research bills with 10-year lifetimes. Research funding will not be increased significantly, although the minister mentioned that basic funding to the universities should make up a larger proportion of the total research funding. This increase will be directed at young researchers, she explained. Another important question is gender equality, where the minister emphasised that ”it’s going far too slowly”.

Two important inquiries that have been submitted to the government will be circulated for consultation, we were told. These are University Chancellor Harriet Wallberg’s inquiry into the future quality evaluation system and the Swedish Research Council’s proposal for evaluation of research quality.

At the meeting the chancellor and the Swedish Higher Education Authority also informed us of the upcoming pilot evaluation of PhD programmes, including at LiU’s Technology and Social Change. They also presented the structure for the evaluation of workplace-based teacher training. A report on the effects of previous quality-boosting initiatives in the humanities and social sciences will be ready this spring.

Campus LiU 2015 is a matter of great importance to the future of our region, and will be discussed by the university board in mid February. It consists of three components: constructing a new student building at Campus Valla, with a combined library and Didakticum; housing LiU’s collaboration operations and bringing together University Services.

The idea was born during the university’s strategic review, while studying international student environments. We saw libraries/info-centres with different types of study areas that were absolutely packed with students. Being a campus university that recruits from the entire country, with a high student presence both during and after university hours, it’s essential that we can offer inspiring and functional study environments.

After months of discussion, planning and development in several different working groups, we now have a really exciting proposal in place. Akademiska Hus, the public body that owns and manages the university’s properties, has done everything it can to meet our strict requirements, including financial ones. With the current proposal, for every part of the project, the total rent increase for this project comes to roughly three per cent. And this figure does not include the expected efficiency gains of bringing together student services and university services respectively. After the property efficiency project that has now been completed, we now shift focus to service and management efficiency.

We have a fantastic reputation as a teaching university, a position we intend to retain through 2025.


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Last updated: 2015-02-04