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Governance of higher education in Sweden

Will the way in which the government controls and allocates resources to higher education continue in its present form? A Swedish government enquiry is currently considering this and may suggest changes.

The enquiry is entitled “Styrning för starka and ansvarsfulla lärosäten”, (“Governance for strong and responsible institutions of higher education”, abbreviated in Swedish as “Strut”), and is chaired by Pam Fredman, previously vice-chancellor at the University of Gothenburg. It will present its conclusions on 3 December.

The government directive for the enquiry states that the system of governance must be improved such that state universities and university colleges are given the conditions required to conduct long-term operations, act strategically, and respond to change in the world around them.

The proposed model involves, among other things, that one government bill be put forward for higher education, research and collaboration, every four years. At the moment, educational policy is laid down in the annual Budget Bill, while research policy is set out by the Research Bill, published every four years. By presenting one overall bill for education, research and collaboration, the government will create a coordinated structure that can facilitate the creation of a unified sphere of knowledge. The model suggests that government finance for research and education should be united into a single allocation, with separate bases of calculation.

Other proposals of the model:

  • four-year agreements specific for institutions of higher education
  • follow-up after two years in a dialogue-based format
  • follow-up after four years
  • an analysis function that analyses, among other things, national development, and evaluates the political governance

The demand from students and the needs of society are to determine how education is to be dimensioned. It may, however, be necessary to introduce nationwide co-ordination for subjects with low student volumes. Special solutions may be necessary also for professions within education and the health and medical care system, where the numbers of students graduating are insufficient for society’s needs.

The proposal also emphasises that forms for lifelong learning must be developed.

The enquiry discusses the allocation of resources to higher education. Here, however, it has not gone into such detail, and its conclusions are not as clear.

One advantage of the proposed model is that institutions of higher education will gain the possibility to establish well-defined profiles. There is, however, a fear that political control can become far too detailed.

The results of the enquiry will be presented to the government on 3 December. There will, however, probably be a delay before any new system of governance and resource allocation can come into force.


Elisabet Wahrby 2018-10-25

Page manager: elisabet.wahrby@liu.se
Last updated: 2018-10-30