Investigator: Consider joining forces with the University of Skövde
Form an alliance or join forces with another seat of learning in Western Sweden. That is investigator Tim Ekberg’s advice to the University of Borås. The Swedish higher education sector faces major changes. Appointed by the university rector, the investigator has written a background report that highlights a number of potential choices.
Tim Ekberg presents the report “Högskolelandskap i förändring: Utmaningar och möjligheter för Högskolan i Borås” (translates into: Higher Education is facing changes: Challenges and opportunities for the University of Borås) at the board meeting on the 17th of February.
Ekberg finds that the University of Borås is a well managed seat of learning with a high standard and a stable base of operations. The university is relatively well-adjusted to future challenges. But the competition for students, researchers and funds will get tougher.
T University of Borås should, according to Ekberg, look into the possibility and consequences of joining forces with the other universities in Västra Götaland. Closest at hand is the University of Skövde, whose academic profile complements, rather than competes with, the University of Borås profile.
A fusion would result in a seat of learning of the same size as the universities in Karlstad or Örebro, for example. University West has clearly stated that it does not intend to fuse with any other seat of learning. Ekberg suggests that the door be left open, so that University West can join the Borås/Skövde combo later on.
Tim Ekberg says that a joining of forces with the University of Gothenburg or Chalmers risks reducing the education in Borås to mainly being focused on the public sector. The close and unique partnership with local business and other actors runs the risk of losing intensity and nerve. Size does not solve every problem.
Ekberg also highlights the uneven balance in the state’s allocation of research funding between the universities and the university colleges. The six biggest universities, plus the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Chalmers and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) receive 85 per cent of the permanent research funding. Fifteen so-called regional university colleges share five per cent of the funding.
The third university
Björn Brorström comments that Ekberg’s report show the University of Borås is on the right course, working to be elevated to the status of full university.
“We have the capacity to become the third full university in Western Sweden,” explains the rector.
“An important part in the development of the education and research environment is establishing strategic alliances with seats of learning that reinforce our joint conditions. There are such seats of learning in our close proximity, but also in other parts of Sweden. Or abroad.”
“The Regional Authority in Västra Götaland will, thanks to an active commitment, play a major part in the establishment of a third university in the region. Such a change would in turn strengthen Western Sweden in relation to the capital region or the Öresund region,” concludes rector Björn Brorström.
Text: Sten Dellby
Foto: Jonas Slättung