More areas still to develop from Q&R17
There have been some positive developments, but much work is left to do. This is the conclusion of a follow-up of the forty University-wide recommendations contained in Quality and Renewal 2017.
In connection with the ‘Quality and Renewal 2017’ (Q&R17) research evaluation, a decision was taken to follow up work on the University-wide measures in 2022. That follow-up has resulted in the report “Uppföljning av universitetsgemensamt åtgärdsarbete till följd av forskningsutvärderingen Kvalitet och förnyelse 2017” (“Follow-up of the University’s work on measures resulting from the research evaluation Quality and Renewal 2017”), published in autumn 2023.
In the report the author, Sven Stafström, goes through what has happened about the forty recommendations proposed by the project group for Q&R17.
“Some positive things have come out of Q&R17, absolutely,” says Sven Stafström. “But there are also many areas where more could have been done.”
Among the positives, Stafström mentions the strengthening of academic leadership, career support, the Vice-Chancellor’s seminars and the fact that the Q&R17 research evaluation has led to more active strategic work at the disciplinary domains and faculties.
Stafström’s report is the second follow-up of the University-wide measures taken as a result of Q&R17, with the first having been carried out by an international council in 2019. Based on the measures carried out on the basis of the forty recommendations in Q&R17, the international council provided some feedback.
“The international council drew a few conclusions, but their feedback has not had much of an impact.”
Among their recommendations was that Uppsala University should have a greater focus on excellence, interdisciplinarity and strengthening the links between research and education. They also felt that there should be clearer internationalisation objectives. In his report, Stafström includes a formulation by the international council regarding excellence: “make the stars visible, support those who can become excellent”:
To locate the successful researchers of the future, we need to think in two ways: current employees and new recruits.
“The search for talent already present at the University must be undertaken in the research teams. There needs to be a process for locating talent, a form of support that can be spread out over the different areas and which prompts the researchers to highlight talent, for example among postdocs. When it comes to recruiting external talent, international networks are needed to identify people who could be a good fit for the University's activities.”
In the report, Stafström notes that the University-wide funds can be used more actively and distributed between various strategically selected initiatives, including recruitment.
Make use of assistant senior lecturers
In the report, Stafström notes that the position of assistant senior lecturer, if used correctly, could enhance the University's attractiveness. However, the targets in place concerning the number of assistant senior lecturers are not being achieved in all areas of the University.
“The role of assistant senior lecturer is a form of employment that requires strategic thinking and should be used to recruit and highlight talent.”
When asked how to approach the issue of top-down and bottom-up initiatives in an organisation, Stafström notes that it entails an inevitable balancing act.
“Both top-down och bottom-up approaches are needed at a higher education institution. It’s a balancing act between the two that needs to be raised and thrashed out.”
Set targets for international collaborations
One area for development highlighted by Stafström is international collaboration.
“The University’s international collaborations appear to be very broad and uncontrolled and more focused on quantity than quality. The collaborations into which the University enters should correspond with Uppsala University’s own strategy.”
Stengthen connection between research and education
The link between research and education is another neglected area identified by Stafström. There is a need for better strategic thinking about education, both in terms of teaching-intensive and research-intensive areas.
“The University Management can play a role here by creating an incentive to strengthen the connection between teaching and research.”