What do you do at HERO?

– We put together existing research and arrange seminars, workshops and conferences. We also conduct our own research and take on a few assignments where we investigate various issues in the field of higher education and research. Right now, for instance, we’re working on completing two major reports; one on throughput on teacher programmes at Uppsala University, and one in which we surveyed education research in Sweden on behalf of the Swedish Research Council.

The Centre for Higher Education and Research as Objects of Study – that sounds pretty “meta”?

– Yes, it’s all about exploring the activities that we pursue, research and education. This is a reflection of ourselves, on ourselves. We started HERO because we find it strange that there’s so little of this kind of reflection within the university, even though there’s a lot of expertise in the field. So that’s the paradox we’ve been addressing.

Are there any similar centres at other universities?

– No, this is unique in Sweden. There’s nothing else like it. People have been talking for a long time about the need for centres of excellence, and we think it’s very important for these to be run by researchers linked to universities. Uppsala University is such a strong research university, so we have a capacity that I believe is unique in this respect. These are often complex issues and it’s difficult for one department to house all the relevant expertise. But now we can shed light on the issues from a political science, legal, sociological and economic perspective and achieve a more complete understanding.

Why are HERO’s activities important right now?

– On the one hand, universities, higher education and research are becoming more and more important. There are more stringent demands for research to resolve many of the problems faced by society. But on the other hand, there’s also a greater questioning of these activities. There’s a lot going on and a lot at stake, people have strong opinions, so it’s incredibly important to have as good a knowledge base as possible so that informed decisions can be made at various levels.