News from the management

Last changed: 13 May 2024
Photo of Karl Lovrie

With great anticipation, a few weeks ago, we received the enrollment statistics for the autumn term for our educational programs. Had the collective recruitment efforts of the spring, including open afternoons, endeavors from program directors, education administrators, students, individual teachers, and others, yielded results and managed to reverse declining trends?

Although we cannot definitively say that the efforts have a direct correlation to increased applicants, we can see a few bright spots but also some continued setbacks. On the Landscape Construction and Management program at Alnarp, which has not filled its places in recent years, first-choice applicants increased by 64% compared to last year. This can probably be explained by the persistent work of programme director of studies Åsa Bensch, who has engaged students and personally attended fairs. The students' efforts, including visits to high schools during the spring, should be highlighted, which likely also contributed to the agricultural science program increasing by 27% to 71 first-choice applicants. With a bit of luck, that program will fill its 50 places this autumn, which would be very gratifying after a few years of adversity.

A disappointment is that the horticultural engineering - cultivation program has not managed to increase the number of applicants. The low interest persists after unusually high application numbers during the pandemic. Here, the faculty needs to support marketing efforts. Our former flagship, the Landscape Architecture program in Alnarp, is approaching alarmingly low levels - in fact, there seems to be a slowly declining trend over the past decade. A thorough analysis and strategic discussions are needed here to address the situation.

Overall, SLU continued to perform poorly, with 3% fewer applicants this year compared to other universities and colleges in Sweden, which increased by 8%. It is primarily applicants to undergraduate programs that have decreased for the third consecutive year - however, the master's programs are doing slightly better.

One must be honest and say that SLU is facing a recruitment crisis, even though the situation is difficult to assess. The risk that SLU will not fulfill the educational mandate from the department for 4200 full-time students per year has increased. Therefore, new efforts are being made centrally at SLU with increased insight work and formulation of a new marketing concept - work is ongoing during the spring. I hope that organizational issues will also be addressed and that the responsibility for marketing SLU's programs will be clarified. A decentralization of internal work at SLU is needed, as well as a better regional connection.

Fortunately, our graduates are attractive to the job market and secure employment - we do not see any direct unemployment in the relevant branches. We have well-researched education programmes that can, of course, be further improved and made more professionally relevant. The problem lies more in how SLU and the programs are perceived by the younger generation. There are indications that with the previous marketing concept, which encouraged prospective students to "save the world" and "become superheroes," we appeared superficial and embarrassing. One might question whether we are too old-fashioned or if it's possibly the old fashion that would be the success?


This text is translated with help of AI.


Karl LövrieSenior Lecturer at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, 040-41 54 39