High quality in education and research is a priority in everything we do. In recent years, our own quality work has also been supplemented by an increasingly comprehensive quality evaluation from the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ). Right now we are in an intensive phase to prepare for two upcoming evaluations linked to our quality system. Generally speaking, I feel safe with the quality assurance work being done, but there are always challenges and development areas.
The first evaluation will take place in 2021 and is a legal oversight and focuses on whether our quality assurance work on education and research is systematic and in accordance with the laws and requirements imposed on us as an authority. This evaluation covers nine areas (including student influence, credit assessment, course and education plans as well as course evaluations).
The second evaluation is more comprehensive and is about how we ensure that our quality work works in practice. The focus is on the continuous improvement of our education and research environments, and how we ensure that what is shown in our evaluations and follow-ups (eg the committees) is addressed. This evaluation is done for our part 2022.
Quality in daily work
I have set up a working group to develop an action plan and to identify any shortcomings and suggestions for improvement, but the work will include virtually all of us at the university, not least in terms of practical application and providing information on how we works with quality in daily work.
The planning of several decided investments linked to Vision 2030 is proceeding with good speed.
The work of selecting new future areas for ground-breaking research, which has the potential to put the University on the map in ten years, and new educational initiatives that challenge our common approaches and illustrate what innovative education can mean, are now entering the final phase.
With regard to new future areas, we received a total of twelve applications. Based on the recommendations made by external reviewers and the faculty's research strategy committees, the assessment group has identified four applications as particularly interesting. The assessment team believes that there is an overlap between the applications and that a clustering would strengthen the proposals. Main applicants have been invited to an in-depth dialogue where this is discussed, and applicants have been commissioned to submit concrete proposals.
Hope for a decision before the summer
The work to design innovative education is also in its final stages. Twenty applications have been submitted and an assessment group has produced five applications for further evaluation. Dialogue has taken place with the main applicants for these, and the applications have now been prepared for proposals for decisions. I hope to be able to make a rector's decision on investments in both new areas of the future and innovative courses in late May or early June.
We were able to see that the interest in education is particularly high in the prevailing circumstances when the applicant figures came in mid-April. Luleå University of Technology follows the national increase by about 13 percent (if you exclude the programmes that are not given this year) and it is therefore good that the government increases the number of places of education. The Government proposes that the universities receive a total of SEK 111 million in 2020 (about 1,300 full-year students) and SEK 222 million in 2021 (about 2,600 full-year students). For us, this means 102 new FTE:s in addition to the number we have received for summer courses and Preparatory Programme in Technology.
We have also submitted a proposal for a "knowledge lift" for the hospitality industry to the Ministry of Education. If they give us a go, we will develop a number of MOOC courses, each corresponding to about two weeks of study, in a number of different subject areas such as finance, marketing, digitization and entrepreneurship.The initiative is supported by the employer organization Visita and the hotel and restaurant union.
Call to the Government
Speaking of continuing education - the Vice-Chancellors of Chalmers, KTH and I, together with Teknikföretagen, Sveriges Ingenjörer and the CEOs of Ericsson, AB Volvo, Volvo Cars, Scania and SKF, in a debate article in Dagens industri invites the government to take the opportunity to set a good model for lifelong learning.
It is a big focus on educational issues and skills development initiatives from many players today and therefore it is extra important that we balance this by highlighting the importance of research to maintain our strong international position after covid-19. Long-term and strong research programs are crucial for Sweden to be a knowledge nation.
Finally: it is great to see the fantastic input from our students, sharing their experiences of studying at Luleå University of Technology. The films and features are available both on our web and on social media. We have such incredibly talented and driven students.
Birgitta Bergvall-Kåreborn, Vice-Chancellor of Luleå University of Technology.