Combined funding link research and education

Combine Government funding to universities for research and education into one grant. Replace the frequent research bills with one combined bill for higher education institutions. These are the proposals from the person heading the Government commission on the issue.

At the beginning of December Pam Fredman, the Government’s Special Commissioner, will present her proposed new model for the allocation of resources and for governance of Sweden’s higher education institutions (HEIs).

She has already presented an initial outline of the model.

“The proposal means, among other things, that HEIs would receive a single research and education grant,” she said when she presented her model at an IVA meeting.

This would of course lead to universities having more freedom to use their resources as they please. But they would also have to sign four-year agreements with the Government regulating what they will have to achieve.

“The combined funding will give them more autonomy. But their progress will have to be monitored. Under the agreements, the HEIs will have to clearly define what they aim to deliver over a four-year period.”

This is where the proposal differs from the Government’s current Appropriation Directions.

“To ensure that this is monitored and to guarantee that the Government and Riksdag receive well-substantiated information, a new authority will be needed to act as an intermediary.”

Pam Fredman pointed out that the final model will contain proposals on how universities can improve the way they develop their profiles and the best way for them to ensure that learning really becomes a life-long endeavour.

“Our task now is to put the proposals in a concrete form,” said Pam Fredman.

The feedback on the commission’s proposals expressed at the IVA meeting was largely positive. But Astrid Söderbergh Widding, President of Stockholm University, feared that the individual agreements that would have to be signed by the Government and universities could be undermined. But she also recognises the value of the combined funding proposal as a signal.

Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council, was sceptical about the proposed new monitoring authority. Ameli von Zweigbergk, Head of the Industrial Development department of the Association of Swedish Engineering Industries was of the same opinion.