Academic freedom highlighted in budget submission to government

Students on their way to the University Main Building

Particular attention will be paid to developments in education in the coming years. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt

Strengthen academic freedom at all levels, increase level of compensation for higher education and direct research funding towards excellent research. These are some of the messages conveyed in Uppsala University's budget submission to the government, as adopted by the University Board.

Following a decision by the University Board on 20 February, Uppsala University has sent in a budget submission for the years 2025–2027. It also offers proposals to the government on a number of pressing issues.

The budget submission reveals a tougher economic situation over the coming years. For 2023, the University reports an operating loss of SEK 141 million, which is a larger deficit than the minus SEK 100 million that the University had anticipated. The difference is mainly due to higher operating costs than expected.

This year's deficit can be managed in line with the current plans, but the situation for undergraduate and Master’s level education is becoming strained in several parts of the University. Particular attention will be paid to developments in education in the coming years, according to Uppsala University's budget submission.

Strengthen academic freedom

To give the University the best conditions for conducting its activities with the highest quality and relevance, Uppsala University is making a number of proposals to the government.

One such proposal is to strengthen academic freedom at all levels as one of the prerequisites for an open and democratic society. Greater institutional autonomy and freedom to act is needed to enable higher education institutions to take action, make sensible decisions and create coherent knowledge environments. The relationship between government and higher education institutions should be characterised by trust-based governance, while monitoring for the purpose of control should be reduced.

Raise level of compensation for higher education

In the field of education, it is proposed that compensation to higher education be raised. Recently, the amount of compensation has been eroded by demands for efficiency, leading to less teaching time for students and lower quality. Uppsala University also wants to expand its educational mission in programmes that are in demand among both students and the labour market.

In research, Uppsala University wants a larger proportion of government research funding to be allocated directly to higher education institutions as unrestricted direct government funding based on quality and performance-based indicators. Giving higher education institutions room for strategic renewal provides the best conditions for excellent research of high international quality that leads to innovation and sustainable social development.

National research infrastructure strategy

From an international perspective, the University emphasises collaboration within the EU and its importance for Swedish education, research and innovation. Ahead of next year's renegotiations of the EU's long-term financial framework, Sweden should protect the EU instruments that create the most value for Swedish researchers and promote the line that research of the highest quality should be prioritised.

A national strategy should be drawn up clarifying the division of responsibilities, priorities and long-term financing of research infrastructure. This is needed to give Sweden, as a knowledge nation, strong opportunities to mobilise resources to meet the social challenges of the future, as stated by Uppsala University in the budget submission.

Annica Hulth

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