Headlines 2015

New book about the need to reform higher education


The panel at the seminar included (from left): Hakan Regnér, Jens Schollin, Magnus Henrekson, Ursula Berge, Patrik Engellau, Ebba Witt-Brattström and the moderator Mia Odabas. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz

In a new book – Universitetsreform! – så kan vi rädda och lyfta den högre utbildningen (University Reform! How to Save and Boost Higher Education) – six professors and authors, among other things, highlight the fact that the perception of study discipline and knowledge has changed in recent decades. This book presents several concrete reform proposals. The authors suggest, for example, that grades should be set by external examiners, and that the grading system should be standardized across the country. ”We need a system through which universities can be ranked and institutions of higher education can be compared,” said Patrik Engellau, Den Nya Välfärden, when he opened the seminar.

The main idea in the book is that university teachers should be held responsible for the results, which they are not today. The goal should be to improve the quality of education through teachers setting proper standards and students increasing their efforts. University teachers should not get a free hand to control and adjust at their own discretion, according to the authors. "The freedom of the profession ought to be the freedom to decide how better results can be achieved. However, the results must be monitored."


Patrik Engellau3.jpgPatrik Engellau. Photo: Cecila Larsson Lantz.

“The right incentives are necessary to reverse the negative trend and the profession is actually the only real resource for this purpose. Furthermore, we must abolish the idea that facts stand in the way of true understanding,” said Professor Magnus Henrekson, IFN.

He explained that while teachers in higher education are given more power over the education, the results of that education also need to be evaluated. Henrekson also dropped a bombshell: Wouldn’t it make sense to allow students to pay minimal fees for higher education?


Magnus Henreksom för webben2.jpgMagnus Henrekson. Photo: Cecilia Larsson Lantz.

Professor Jens Schollin, principal at Örebro University, said no to fees but explained that the great value of the new book "is that it promotes academic education in a way that we need today." Schollin commended the authors for putting professionalism and collegiality in focus and that they emphasize that the institutions' main asset is the teachers.


Jens Schollin för webben2.jpgJens Schollin, Photo: Cecila Larsson Lantz.

Professor Ebba Witt-Brattström, University of Helsinki, explained that she is a refugee from the Swedish "university swamp".

“In Finland we have a lot of what is desired in this book: A strong educational profession, motivated students that come from a “school of knowledge” and are admitted by using entrance exams.

Witt Brattström agreed with the book's authors that a base year should be instituted at Swedish universities. She also pointed to the need for university teachers not only to teach but also do research.


Ebba Witt-Brattström för webben2.jpgEbba Witt-Brattström. Photo: Cecila Larsson Lantz.

Ursula Berge, Head of social policy at Akademikerförbundet SSR (The Union for Professionals), said that the main problem is the erosion of funding for colleges and universities. Associate Professor Håkan Regnér, Saco, stated that quality should be evaluated to a much greater extent. He also suggested a focus on finding out why students choose a specific education and a certain college.

See the seminar on SVT Play

Read the book as pdf

Article about the book in Dagens Nyheter and the final line

Analytical article about the book in Axess magazine

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