Project to double the number of students at SLU

Last changed: 16 October 2019
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The world needs twice as many SLU students to conceive solutions for the transition from a fossil-based society to a sustainable, bio-based one characterised by a circular economy and healthy environments for humans, animals and nature. There are currently several projects in progress on the structure, content and implementation of our degree programmes. Here is a spring 2019 status report.

Vision

Roadmap

General meetings

In-house consultation round

External comments

Adapting the professional programmes to the Bologna principles

Main fields of study, progression, prior knowledge and degree requirements

The 2020/21 programme offering

The 2021/22 and onwards programme offering

Support for special teaching posts

Programme development and system support

Use of funds

____________________________________________________

Vision

The SLU Board has decided on measures aimed at doubling the number of students at SLU (in Swedish only). The vice-chancellor, together with the SLU bodies for education, has been tasked with implementing a development project to support the vision of doubling the number of SLU students at undergraduate and Master’s level by 2027 compared to 2017. At the same time, the number of eligible applicants per place should increase, and the student body should reflect the diversity of Sweden’s young population today. The funding placed at the disposal of the Board of Education (UN) for this purpose is available for the period 2019–2020.

Roadmap

The UN has adopted a roadmap for doubling the number of students at SLU. During spring 2019 there has been a consultation round, and a number of measures proposed in the roadmap report have been further investigated. Below is a summary of the results and the direction for further work. A summary of the consultation document is available in English: Road map for doubling the number of students at SLU.

General meetings

General meetings (in Swedish) for students and staff, with video links, have been organised in Alnarp, Uppsala, Umeå and Skinnskatteberg. The agenda included the following items:

  • Status report on the roadmap
  • Plans for new and existing programmes

Link to meeting notes (in Swedish only).

In-house consultation round

The first in-house consultation round focused on the proposed structural changes to some of the professional programmes. In principle, all the consultation replies support the proposed change from 5 to 3+2 years, but almost all the replies objected to the proposed schedule. According to the replies, introducing this change from 2021 would mean better prerequisites for a well-organised transition and would better harmonise with the expected change to the ordinance (degree in agricultural science, 300 credits). The UN noted that the planned changes involve a number of challenges, reflected in e.g. the replies from the students.

The second consultation round covered 11 proposals from the roadmap report on issues such as student-supporting activities, general principles for SLU’s programme offering, new programme concepts, defining degree requirements as well as main fields of study, prior knowledge and progression.  The consultation replies were included as supporting documents in the UN discussions and positions of 11 April and 16 May. Summary of replies (in Swedish only).

External comments

Representatives of close to 100 companies, public authorities and organisations from different sectors have been invited to a dialogue on the challenges and opportunities of SLU’s programmes. A roundtable took place on 10 April. Programme and list of participants (in Swedish only). At the roundtable, the focus was on the professional programmes and discussions were held in thematic groups: animals, landscape, food, cultivation, society and forest. Roundtable summaries (in Swedish only). External stakeholders have also had the opportunity to submit their opinions in writing. The external comments were included as supporting documents in the UN discussions and position of 16 May. Summary of replies (in Swedish only).

The UN appreciates the commitment shown by those taking part in the roundtable talks and contributing to the consultation replies and emphasises that the programme boards, in their continued work, must take into account the opinions that have been put forward, provide feedback and ensure continued dialogue with relevant external stakeholders. The UN is of the opinion that a fruitful dialogue with the sector is important, but that there are a number of needs and wishes that must be weighed against each other. We must prepare our students for a broad labour market and long working life.

Adapting the professional programmes to the Bologna principles

Given the comments from the consultation round, the structural changes to the forest and agricultural science programmes will be postponed one year compared to the original plan. On 14 February, the UN decided that the 5-year programmes in forest science and agricultural science will be replaced by 3-year Bachelor’s programmes and 2-year Master’s programmes.

  • This change will come into effect by the 2021 admission the latest.
  • Both programmes, Bachelor’s and Master’s, will be offered as of the 2021 admission.
  • For those who fulfil the degree requirements, it will still be possible to obtain a forester or agronomist degree.
  • The issue of guaranteed admission will be further investigated.

The decision also included drafting a project plan for an investigation into possibly adapting the landscape architecture programmes to the Bologna principles. This has already been done for the horticultural science programme, which is now 3 + 2 years, whereas the veterinary medicine programme is exempt from this change.

The final decision will be taken by the SLU Board, most likely in June 2020, when the programme offering for the 2021/22 academic year will be established (see below).

Main fields of study, progression, prior knowledge and degree requirements

On 16 May 2019, the UN approved the principles for managing a number of issues concerning degree requirements and placements, qualification titles, main fields of study and specialisations, double classification and entry requirements. Read the decision on main fields of study, prior knowledge, progression, qualification requirements and qualification titles (in Swedish only).

The SLU Board decided om 19 June 2019 to establish the new main field of study, sustainable development, at undergraduate and Master’s level, and the main field of study environmental psychology at Master’s level. A proposal to establish agroecology as a main field of study was rejected and instead agroecology will bee a specialisation for degrees in agricultural science. Read the decision on main fields of study in degrees at undergraduate and Master’s level at SLU (in Swedish only).

The 2020/21 programme offering

For the 2020/21 academic year, a new distance Master's programme, Ecological Management of Forests, is proposed. This programme will be developed and run jointly with the Linnaeus University. The UN will propose to the SLU Board to establish this programme, provided that the parties can reach an agreement. Draft programme syllabus (in Swedish only).

The 2021/22 and onwards programme offering

In 2018, within the framework of the doubling project, there was a call for proposals for new programmes from all of SLU. The proposals presented in the roadmap have since been processed by the programme boards and turned into a number of proposed programme concepts. On 16 May 2019, the UN decided to prioritise the following concepts as, from a strategic point of view, they are considered the most important to develop further:

Bachelor’s programmes

  • Forest and Landscape Management
  • Biotechnology for Sustainability

Master's programmes

  • Sustainable Use of Natural Resources
  • Climate Adaptation and Mitigation for Sustainable Spatial Planning and Design
  • Aquatic Environmental Assessment 
  • Bioinformatics for Natural Resources
  • Health Promotion in Horses and Animal Healthcare
  • Food Culture in Sustainable Spatial Planning

At this stage, a decision on the allocation of funds does not necessarily mean that all the proposed programmes will become reality. Which ones will and when is to be decided at a later stage based on the analyses and assessments to be reported to the UN. The UN has also decided to approve the development and investigation respectively of programmes in forest science, agricultural science and landscape architecture and to allocate funds for this purpose.

To coordinate the many subprojects within the doubling project, and to simplify parts of the investigative work needed, the UN has decided to allocate resources to a project for developing the programme offering at undergraduate and Master’s level as of 2021/22. A central task for this project will be an in-depth market and target group analysis that looks at our competition both nationally and internationally, as well as the preferences of various target groups. Project plan for developing the SLU programme offering (in Swedish only). The UN has also decided to allocate time-limited additional funding to support the faculty offices in this work.

Support for special teaching posts

To boost teaching resources, the UN will provide a setting-up aid (50%) for five senior lecturers during two years within prioritised areas. The UN will also fund five adjunct teaching posts (up to 20% within SLU) during two years, with a focus on competencies in sectors that are new to SLU, or sectors where we are already active but where collaboration needs strengthening. The faculty boards have submitted applications for setting-up aid for a total of seven senior lecturers and nine adjunct teaching posts. On 16 May 2019, the UN decided on how to prioritise these applications.

Programme development and system support

The team of specialists at the Unit for Educational Development will be strengthened to allow them to offer support in the development of specific programmes and courses as well as in the development of the overall programme offering.

The need for development of IT systems related to teaching and learning has been flagged during the quality dialogues, e.g. the need for developing the student web. This includes bringing functions from various systems together to create a personalised view for students, accessible by single sign-on on the start page. Web pages presenting degree programmes need to be further developed to include the display of course schedules and programme syllabuses. The design of course pages also needs an update to adapt them to new technology. The communication between teachers and students needs simplifying. Another subproject concerns a system for digital examinations. An increasing number of students also brings with it increased demands on basic infrastructure, demands that need to be addressed already at this stage.

Use of funds

On 16 May 2019, the UN decided on the use of funds, see the summary below. In total, this involves resources of SEK 56.7 million for the period 2019–2021, of which 37 million will be used in 2020 and during the remainder of 2019. New funding will be needed to cover close to 20 million in 2021. Decision on funding for the doubling project (in Swedish only).

In addition, the UN will be required to provide additional funding to support the development of new courses in new degree programmes. A decision on such funding will be taken in connection with a decision to establish/to continue development of specific programmes. Additional resources will be needed to develop and strengthen student support activities.

Summary

Decision  2019–2020  (SEK thousand)

Required   in 2021  (SEK thousand)

Marketing/student recruitment

7,000

3,000

Student support activities

800

800

Development of overall programme   offering

3,030

 

Development of new programmes

2,600

Not yet known

Development of existing programmes

9,470

3,860

Additional support for faculty offices   (university administration)

5,100

1,700

Special teaching posts

3,500

7,000

Teaching and learning support

3,300

2,000

System support

2,200

1,300

TOTAL

37,000

19,660


Facts:

SLU is currently undertaking broadly based work which is expected to go on for several years. The intention is to recruit more students through various measures that focus on developing the content and implementation of courses and programmes, increasing marketing and improving quality. This includes developing more attractive career paths for teachers as well as continued campus development. Several proposals are being processed with the purpose of creating more attractive courses and programmes. The content and structure of some existing programmes will be reconsidered and developed, but new programmes and courses will also be created.

Page editor: johan.toren@slu.se