‘Sweden doesn’t need more universities’: Leijonborg

The government has said it plans to reject applications from Swedish colleges (högskolor) interested in upgrading their status to full-fledged universities.

A proposition on research education the government plans to submit to the Riksdag on Friday doesn’t contain any provisions to allow for new universities, according to higher education minister Lars Leijonborg.

The applications sent in by several colleges won’t be approved, he writes in an article published in the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

According to Leijonborg, Sweden doesn’t need any more universities than the 14 already found in the country. Instead, it’s more important that current research institutions have the opportunity to compete for the most competent instructors and the most gifted students.

“There needs to be more at the top of the higher education world, and fewer which lag behind,” he writes.

“Today’s proposition tackles some of the problems which have long hampered academic development in our country…colleges and universities will be placed together in a single, common financing system. The old idea that research can only take place at universities is to be buried for good. Quality will be the determining factor. High-quality research will be supported, no matter where it takes place. ”

A common system for evaluating education programme quality will also be implemented upon adoption of the proposition.

Colleges which attain a sufficiently high level of quality in a given subject would earn the right to offer doctoral degrees in that subject.

At the same time, it would also be possible to revoke a university’s right to confer degrees in certain subjects if standards prove to be lacking.