SHARE
COPY LINK

UNIVERSITY

Top Swedish unis slide in new global ranking

Three Swedish universities have reputations among the top 100 in the world, but each institution has seen its position fall since last year according to a new ranking published on Monday.

Top Swedish unis slide in new global ranking

Sweden’s placement of three institutions on the Times Higher Education’s 2013 World Reputation Rankings places it in a tie for sixth place overall with Hong Kong and Canada, and just behind France, which has four universities among the top 100.

The results are based on a survey of senior academics, providing what the publication refers to “the only global index based purely on the power of university brands”.

Karolinska Inistitutet outside of Stockholm was the highest ranked Swedish university, landing in the 61-70 band.

Meanwhile, Lund University in southern Sweden and Uppsala University in eastern Sweden both placed in the ranking’s 91-100 band.

However, the report’s authors cautioned that Sweden’s universities are “losing global status”.

“There are alarming signs that [Sweden] is losing its lustre. None of the country’s three representatives make the world top 50; indeed, all have lost ground this year,” Times Higher Education Rankings Editor Phil Baty said in a statement.

Baty singled out Uppsala University as “the greatest cause for concern”, noting the school ranked in the 71-80 band in 2012 band “but now barely makes the top 100”.

SEE ALSO: Ten Swedish books to read before you die

When asked about the drop, Uppsala University Deputy Vice Chancellor Anders Malmberg had mixed reactions on the institution ranking.

“Uppsala strives to be among the world’s top internationally-oriented research universities. We think we should be included in such rankings and are happy to belong to that top-100 group,” he told The Local.

“But we are never satisfied when we see our position fall and want to continue working on strengthening our research and education programmes.”

He added, however, that the university places more emphasis on “indicator-based” rankings rather than “reputation-based” ones, which he said are “harder to analyze”.

“You never want to put too much emphasis on any one ranking but we have to keep an eye on them whether we like it or not,” he added.

Malmberg said it was unclear whether or not Sweden’s recent introduction of tuition fees for non-EU university students factored into the lower rankings.

“We certainly lost a lot of non-European students and need to work more with how we develop and market our programmes,” he said.

Meanwhile, University Chancellor Lars Haikola, who heads the Swedish Higher Education Authority (Universitetskanslersämbetet), downplayed the significance of the rankings.

“We don’t put much faith in rankings here in Sweden,” he told The Local.

“Swedish universities maintain high quality when it comes to their teaching and research programmes.”

Haikola explained that Sweden is one of the only countries that has boosted research spending at a time when global economic troubles have prompted many country’s top slash research budgets.

“We’re spending billions [of kronor], but the initiatives are being carried out in a long-term perspective,” he explained.

He added that any drop in the rankings by Swedish universities was “relative”, but agreed that the rise of universities in Asia posed a challenge.

“It’s a challenge for all countries to remain at the top,” he said.

“It’s hard to compete and Asian universities have taken great strides.”

SEE ALSO: Ten more Swedish words English lacks

However, Haikola emphasized that he wasn’t worried about any perceived drop in reputation for Sweden’s universities.

“Worry is too strong a word,” he said.

“Certainly, we must be aware of what’s happening and what sorts of efforts are being undertaken elsewhere, but it’s important not to exaggerate the significance of these figures.”

The 2013 rankings are based on more than 16,000 responses to a survey conducted in 144 countries in March and April 2012. The respondents had been working in the academy for 17 years on average.

The United States dominated the World Reputation Rankings, snagging seven of the top ten spots and 43 of the top 100, with Harvard University maintaining its hold on the number one spot, followed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Cambridge and Oxford universities in the UK ranked three and four, respectively, with the University of Tokyo landing in eighth place as the top-ranked Asian university.

David Landes

Follow David Landes on Twitter

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

UNIVERSITY

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year

It is looking increasingly unlikely that 'högskoleprovet' – an exam used by thousands of students every year as a way to enter Swedish university will go ahead – despite a government U-turn.

Swedish university exam unlikely to go ahead at all this year
In a normal year, 100,000 students sit what is known as the SweSAT or 'högskoleprovet'. Photo: Malin Hoelstad/SvD/SCANPIX

The Swedish Scholastic Aptitude Test (SweSAT, or högskoleprovet) is normally held twice a year, but was cancelled in spring and then later in autumn due to the coronavirus pandemic. But after pressure from opposition parties, the government last week said it would pave the way for the test to take place on its usual date in October in a limited format, open only to people who had not previously sat it.

Usually around 100,000 people sit the exam each year, around 40 percent of them doing so for the first time. The exam is not compulsory, but many people use its results to get into university, and it is seen as a crucial second chance for those who are not able to get accepted based on grades alone.

But any hope lit by the government's announcement last week was quickly extinguished this week, when university principals said it would still not be possible to organise a coronavirus-safe sitting. In the end it is up to the exam organisers to decide whether or not to hold it, so the government holds limited sway.

“They [the university principals] do not want to take responsibility for conducting the exam during the autumn, but would rather spend time and resources on conducting two tests as safely as possible in spring,” Karin Röding, director-general of the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR), told the TT news agency on Tuesday.

“I have no reason to have another opinion,” she added.

“It appears to be the case that you are going to have to wait another few months before an exam can be carried out in an infection-safe way,” confirmed Sweden's Minister of Higher Education, Matilda Ernkrans.

Meanwhile the political pressure eased on the Social Democrat-Green coalition government to ensure the test could be held before the deadline for applying to the spring semester of university, when the Liberal party joined the centre-left in voting no to pushing for an autumn sitting. Last week there was a majority for a yes vote on the Swedish parliament's education committee, consisting of right-wing parties Moderates, Christian Democrats, Sweden Democrats and the Liberals, but after the latter switched sides the committee voted no.

The Mdoerates blamed the government for not acting sooner to help the exam go ahead, by for example allocating more money and investigating the possibility of using more venues.

“There is one person who is to blame. That's Matilda Ernkrans,” said the party's education spokesperson Kristina Axén Olin. “The government has handled it really poorly and now it is thought to be too late and impossible.”

Ernkrans argued that she and the government had done everything they could, including making sure that test results from previous years will be valid for eight years rather than the usual five, as well as allocating extra funding to make it possible to hold more than one exam next spring.

Swedish vocabulary

cancel – ställa in

test/exam – (ett) prov

second chance – (en) andra chans

government – (en) regering

semester – (en) termin (note the false friend – the Swedish word semester means holiday)

SHOW COMMENTS