University Director Caroline Sjöberg discusses the inquiry into the University’s research and collaboration support carried out in the spring, as well as the work under way following the inquiry. Photo: Mikael Wallerstedt.2023-06-01
Inquiry into research and collaboration support
University Director Caroline Sjöberg tasked an external analyst with reviewing how research and collaboration support can be reinforced at Uppsala University. The inquiry has now been submitted to the Director and further work is under way.
“The fact that the inquiry highlights the University’s great potential, with both its breadth and excellence, is gratifying, as is the fact that there is a great deal of competence within the various organisational units that work on research and collaboration support,” says Sjöberg.
“On the other hand, the inquiry notes that the support is fragmented, which we are aware of. This was one of the reasons for carrying out the inquiry.”
No decisions taken, proposals now need to be discussed
The inquiry offers multiple proposals of various concrete measures. These need to be examined thoroughly before any decisions can be taken.
“The decision may mean that all or parts of proposals are implemented, but also that the proposals may need to be processed and discussed further. Timing the implementation of any changes depends on how extensive they are. I now need to reflect and discuss the consequences of various solutions with different stakeholders. Once we have had that dialogue in whatever form it takes, I will decide on any adjustments to the way in which the Administration’s support is to be organised,” adds Sjöberg.
Organisational changes cannot solve everything
The University Director emphasises that expectations must be set at a realistic level. The ambition is for the organisation for research and collaboration support to be both appropriate and effective in creating the conditions for a positive work environment. Key terms are visibility, clarity and collaboration. She also notes:
“All of the challenges we face today or are facing in the future cannot be solved merely through organisational change.
External perspective combined with insight into conditions at Uppsala University
The inquiry was conducted by an external analyst, Karin Röding. Röding has previously served as University Director of Uppsala University, Vice-Chancellor of Mälardalen University, State Secretary at the Ministry of Education and Research and Director General of the Swedish Council for Higher Education. The Planning Division has provided support and expertise about the University’s organisation, processes and more.
“I decided that it was important to have an inquiry that can offer an external perspective. However, it was also important for the analyst to have sufficient knowledge of our organisation and to understand our challenges, conditions and opportunities. It was also vital that the analyst had experience of similar structures at other organisations,” explains Sjöberg.
Clarity and sustainability
Among other things, the inquiry gives a picture of somewhat unclear and invisible support, with new researchers finding it difficult to get what they need. One of the reasons the inquiry has been carried out is that in some cases there have been ambiguities regarding the division of responsibilities. Reviewing how that support is organised and enhancing clarity are vital parts of efforts to highlight the different constituent parts.
“We also need to work to create resilient functions. Dependence on individuals represents a challenge raised by several of those interviewed,” notes Sjöberg.
Need for concerted support has gradually become issue
The mission of the Administration includes providing various forms of support to researchers and management in matters relating to research and collaboration. Strong support for research and collaboration has become increasingly important due to intensifying competition and increasingly complex application requirements – not least EU applications.
The need for more concerted research support was raised as far back as in the 2017 Quality and Renewal research evaluation.
“Support functions are in place in several locations at the organisation, meaning their assignment needs to be coordinated to ensure they are resource-efficient and deliver a high level of quality. Since late 2022/early 2023, UU Innovation and UU Innovation Partnership Office have formed part of the Administration. This gives us greater opportunities as an administration to offer broad and concerted support, just as the need for clarity and structure has become more of an issue.”
The inquiry into research and collaboration support at Uppsala University can be found in the register function with reference number UFV 2023/321. You can also find the inquiry (it is only available in Swedish) and an English summary under universitetsövergripande rapporter (University-wide reports) in the Staff Portal.