SNS launches three-year research project focusing on higher education and research

Yesterday was the first time that the reference group for the recently launched SNS research project was convened. This project aims to analyze higher education and the organization, funding and governance of research. The reference group includes renowned individuals in senior positions in research-intensive companies, several university presidents, directors general for research foundations and representatives from trade unions and employer organizations.

The higher education and research system plays a key role in Sweden’s ability to maintain its position as a knowledge nation characterized by continued strong economic growth and a high level of prosperity. Looking ahead, it is crucial to meet the labor market demands regarding increasingly advanced skills and that there are good systems in place for carrying out research.

“Not only further education and lifelong learning but also the research funding system will be key elements in this project. These represent complex issues and there will certainly be different views in the reference group. The main thing is that the researchers attached to the project enjoy independence and that the discussions are characterized by an open-minded spirit,” says Stefan Bengtsson, president and CEO of Chalmers University of Technology and chair of the reference group.

Sweden is one of the countries in the world investing the most resources, measured as percentage of GDP, on research and higher education. The debate on the challenges facing this sector is characterized by a number of conflicting goals.

“SNS hopes that this project will be able to contribute with analysis and facts on issues such as whether resources are to be invested in cutting-edge research or whether they are to be spread evenly across the country, whether research funding should be centralized or whether the universities should have more autonomy to freely use their funds,” says Jonas Klarin, research director of this project.

These issues will be highlighted in about a dozen reports to be written by researchers tied to the project. Three short publications will be presented already this fall on the bureaucratization of higher education, the digitalization of university education and the return on attending higher education for those who become eligible for university studies later in life. At the beginning of next year, papers will be published analyzing how governance of research resources affects both scientific production as well as its content as well as its potential threat to independent research. Furthermore, SNS will continuously organize seminars on key themes related to the project as a way of offering a venue for exchanging knowledge and experiences.

“It is exciting that we have been able to tie so much expertise to this project through its reference group, which also contributes with funding for the project. It shows that SNS enjoys a great deal of trust,” says Jonas Klarin.

The project’s reference group includes:

AstraZeneca, Anna Sandström, Director Science Policy and Relations Europe

Chalmers University of Technology, Stefan Bengtsson, President

Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, Magnus Wallerå, Head of the Department of Education, Research and Innovation

Ericsson, Torbjörn Lundahl, Program Director Ericsson Research

Formas, Ingrid Petersson, Director General

Forte, Jonas Björck, Director General

Knowledge Foundation, Eva Schelin, CEO

Lund University, Erik Renström, President

Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Hans Ellegren, Permanent Secretary

Saab AB, Lena Eliasson, Senior Vice President and Head of Group Human Resources

Stockholm University, Astrid Widding Söderbergh, President

Swedish Association of Graduate Engineers, Ulrika Lindstrand, Chairperson

Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Eva Marie Rigné, Research and Development Coordinator

Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, Håkan Regnér, Senior Economist

Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees, Sofia Hylander, Acting Head of Research

Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research, Lars Hultman, CEO

Swedish National Union of Students, Linn Svärd, Chairperson

Swedish Research Council, Johan Lindell, Head of the Department of Research Policy

TRR, Lennart Hedström, CEO

UKÄ, Anders Söderholm, Director General

Vinnova, Fredrik Hörstedt, Head of the Unit for International Cooperation

Volvo Cars, Stefan Christiernin, Director External Research

SNS Scientific Council, Per Strömberg, Professor of Financial Economics, Stockholm School of Economics