Quality: Renewal

High quality is achieved by preserving the aspects that already work but also by promoting development and renewal. Knowledge development, creativity, national and global developments, “research on research and education”, evaluation results and inspiration from other higher education institutions and sectors of society contribute to the renewal of both research and education. Existing research and education are developed continually in the University’s departments, a process encouraged through various initiatives at University, disciplinary domain, faculty and departmental level. Completely new programmes are established if certain criteria are met. New research emerges on the initiative of individual researchers or research teams, and/or as a result of strategic initiatives at different levels.

An international research university must have a continuous capacity for renewal to meet current and coming challenges. Initiatives at the University, disciplinary domain and faculty levels are often based on adopted goals and strategies. The most extensive development work is continuous and is based on the expertise, experience and creativity of managers, teachers, researchers and students. It takes place in light of knowledge development, developments nationally and globally, “research on research and education”, inspiration from other higher education institutions and sectors of society, and the results of evaluations.

The foundations of renewal are academic freedom, good research practice, research-teaching linkages, and relevance to society. Complete academic environments, with both teaching and research, and a combination of depth and breadth create a solid scholarly basis that provides the potential for research breakthroughs, educational development, innovations and preparations for the unexpected. Innovative research and education also require continual development of infrastructure such as experimental equipment, databases, libraries and biobanks, see Support and Infrastructure. Renewal requires in-depth disciplinary research, inter- and multidisciplinary collaboration and internationalisation. Renewal is made possible through financial means, strategic leadership, attracting talent and systematic quality assurance efforts.

The organisation’s development and renewal require good financial conditions. Direct government funding and the success of staff in applying for external research funding are essential for maintaining and developing new research fields and new study programmes. The University regularly participates in external discussions on its financial situation and tries to create conditions that promote quality in existing operations and the development of new areas. Employees are supported in their quest for external funding through departmental administrative support, the faculty offices and the Planning Division. The University’s Development Office has a strategic role in increasing financial resources through philanthropy. The Unit for Career and Leadership in Academia provides support to heads of research and career support to teachers and researchers in creating the conditions necessary for research, and for themselves as researchers.

The ability to continually develop research and education is central for the University in light of changing conditions and challenges in society and working life. For example, new potential has been created by interdisciplinary initiatives like, the Centre for Integrated Research on Culture and Society (CIRCUS). The University’s independence and integrity are not contrary to openness and collaboration with the community.

The impetus for renewal may be triggered by working with companies, public authorities, municipal governments, regions and civil society. Collaboration occurs as an integrated part of research and education, and in specific arenas devoted to cooperation between the University and stakeholders in society. These include the Centre for Environment and Development Studies (CEMUS), the Centre for Disability Research, the Forum for Diabetes Research, the Forum for Community Engagement, and the Sustainability Learning and Research Centre (SWEDESD). The Almedal Seminars and AIMday are other arenas for sharing knowledge and experience where new projects can be initiated. Together, Uppsala University and Uppsala University Hospital provide opportunities to develop clinical research and education. Units like UU Innovation, UU Innovation Partnership Office and the Division for Contract Education also support the University’s outreach.

An important source of renewal is participation by staff in the international scholarly community and the University’s international contacts. Uppsala University’s participation in university-wide international networks (Coimbra, Matariki, Southern African–Nordic Centre (SANORD), The Guild, U4 Society, Euraxess), cross-disciplinary centres (Nordic Centre Fudan, Nordic Centre in India, Uppsala University Hanoi Office) and exchange programmes like Erasmus+ promote mobility, collaboration and exchange within research, education and administration. The most recent major collaborative initiative is ENLIGHT, a European University Network formed by nine comprehensive, research-intensive universities among which Uppsala University is one.

Renewal of research and education also depends on the University’s strategic management. Uppsala University: Mission, Goals and Strategies identifies the University’s strategic, long-term goals. These should guide work at every level and strengthen the ability to collectively promote the gradual renewal of research and education.

The University’s Mission, Goals and Strategies are linked to the University’s annual organisational planning with budget work, organisational planning and follow-up at different levels. The quality dialogues between the Vice-Chancellor and the vice-rectors of the disciplinary domains are part of this work. These discussions address overall initiatives and resources for strategic initiatives in emerging academic fields and education, see Actions and Follow-up and Organisation and Responsibilities.

Together with other higher education institutions, the University actively participates in national (e.g. Association of Swedish Higher Education – SUHF) and international (e.g. the European University Association – EUA, the European Higher Educational Area – EHEA, the European Research Area – ERA) alliances that are strategic parties in the higher education sector. Collaboration has also been established with Stanford University, the University of California in Berkley, and Washington University within the framework of collaboration among the universities of Stockholm, Lund, Uppsala and Gothenburg (SLUG), the CALIE project.

Innovative research and education are dependent on the University and its departments and units attracting, recruiting and retaining the best researchers, teachers and students, and providing qualified administrative support. There are ongoing initiatives in recruitment, career support, talent attraction and skills development for senior officers, managers, researchers, teachers, doctoral students and administrators, see Support and Infrastructure. The visiting professor programme is an example of a prioritised initiative to attract the most qualified researchers and teachers. Innovation also requires external incentives, like the potential of promotion and receiving awards, see Skills and Careers.

Renewal in teaching and learning occurs in the meeting between teachers, content and students, and in collaboration with external stakeholders. The continually ongoing changes to course syllabuses, reading lists, modes of instruction and forms of examination are crucial. There is extensive ongoing development work linked to e-learning in departments, disciplinary domains and the University Administration, involving the new learning management system (Studium), active learning classrooms, and more. There are pedagogical courses, seminars and consultations for staff, see Support and Infrastructure.

The Guidelines for approving, monitoring and phasing out degree programmes, main fields of study and subsidiary fields of study specify a number of criteria that have to be fulfilled. These include having teachers with relevant qualifications, research-teaching linkages, progression, links to a future labour market, internationalisation, workplace training/placement, links to other programmes at Uppsala University, funding, and systematic quality assurance and enhancement, etc. Decisions are made by the Vice-Chancellor based on proposals from faculties or disciplinary domains. As noted in the Guidelines for Third-Cycle Education, decisions to establish or phase out doctoral education are taken by disciplinary boards or faculty boards.

Educational programmes and development funds

The University’s common visions for teaching and learning activities and development are listed in the programme for Teaching and Learning at Uppsala University. The document is a tool for teaching and learning development and can be used in designing new programmes, developing existing programmes and staff development.

Each year, the disciplinary domains and the University Administration announce project funding for teaching and learning development targeting teachers and teaching teams that want to develop their teaching.

Strategic renewal efforts include taking advantage of external and internal evaluations of the University’s research and education. Systematic quality assurance and enhancement include following up actions taken, see Reviews and Evaluations and Actions and Follow-up. Many of the University’s researchers, teachers and administrators are active nationally and internationally in peer review of research and education, research applications and manuscripts for publication, in recruitment and promotion, and in defences of theses. These processes ensure the quality and novelty of research.