Letter from the Dean

Last changed: 02 November 2023
Jon-Petter Gustafsson, Deputy Dean at NJ Faculty, photo.

Why is the number of applicants to our programs falling?

A few years ago, there was talk at SLU about doubling the number of students. Unfortunately, today's reality looks quite different. The number of newcomers to the NJ faculty's educational programs has decreased to just over 400 this year from the record high of more than 700 during the COVID-19 years of 2020-2021.

The decline over the past two years is broad and affects most of our bachelor's and master's programs, both professional programs (agriculture and rural management (in Swedish: Lantmästarprogrammet) and agronomists) and general programs. However, there are bright spots in the darkness – one such example is the bachelor's program in Biology and Environmental Science, which continues to have a high level of interest.

It may seem strange that our programs are not in high demand when they address some of our major future challenges, and the students we educate are attractive to the job market. So why haven't we been more successful? It is probably a combination of various factors. The marketing of our programs is far from as good as it could be. The current program structure is likely not the best. There are likely several external factors as well – a well-known example is the Migration Agency's long processing times for international students.

We will work hard to reverse this trend. Among other things, we need to:

  • change and improve our marketing,
  • improve the program structure for better clarity for the students, and
  • ensure that we maintain high quality in our education.

However, due to the current situation, we unfortunately need to implement cost savings in undergraduate education, and these will have a noticeable impact on the departments. I hope, of course, that this can be done with minimal impact on the quality of education. At the faculty level, we will naturally do what we can. But it may still be necessary to consider program closures – the education committee is currently working on that issue.

In conclusion, undergraduate and graduate education is a central part of our operations. If we at SLU do not educate tomorrow's experts in food, crop cultivation, agricultural economics, and the environment, then who will? Hopefully, what we are currently seeing is a temporary decline, so that we can soon boost student enrollment again!

Jon Petter Gustafsson
Vice Dean of First and Second Cycle Education

Photo: Amanda Öberg.

Previous letters

Autumn's Challenges and Opportunities in SLU's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Vice Dean Jens Olsson, September 2023

We wish the best of colleagues a wonderful summer.
Dean Torleif Härd, June 2023

What is required to become an associate professor?
Vice Dean Brendan McKie, April 2024

Opportunities in multi- and transdisciplinarity
Vice Dean Helena Hansson, February 2023

Despite the troubled world that we live in, our faculty has certainly had its share of good news this year 
Dean Torleif Härd, December 2022

Festive October and quality in the research education
Vice Dean Petra Fransson, October 2022

SLU's expertise - more needed than ever?
Vice Dean Jens Olsson, September 2022

Summer, reflection and interdisciplinarity
Vice Dean Helena Hansson, June 2022

New at work, new perspectives
Deputy Dean Sara Hallin, February 2022

Reflecting on today and the future
Dean Torleif Härd, December 2021

NJ Faculty and SLU in the debate
Deputy Dean Pär Forslund, October 2021

Looking forward to an autumn of environmental monitoring and assessment
Vice Dean Richard Johnson, September 2021

Dean's Summer Letter: Dear Colleagues at the NJ Faculty!
Dean Torleif Härd, June 2021

Pandemic – have we learned a lesson
Vice Dean Johan Meijer

Inclusive working environments
Vice Dean Marina Queiroz, March 2021

Of course there is a light in the tunnel
Dean Torleif Härd, December 2021

Corona, online collaboration and multi- and interdisciplinary
Vice Dean Helena Hansson, November 2020

The EU, food strategy and moore research
Vice Dean Göran Bergkvist, October 2020

Well-deserved holidays
Deputy Dean Pär Forslund, June 2020

Times They are a-Changin'
Vice Dean Richard Johnson, April 2020

All the best for 2020: The International Year of Plant Health
Vice Dean Johan Meijer, February 2020

Christmas and the New Year are approaching
Dean Torleif Härd, December 2019

Multi- and interdisciplinary research for complex issues
Vice Dean Helena Hansson, October 2019

Understanding differences makes a difference
Vice Dean Marina Queiroz, September 2019

Biodiversity is NJ's strength
Dean Torleif Härd, June 2019

Realize ideas in the doubling project
Vice Dean Göran Bergkvist, May 2019

More teachers, students and honorably doctors
Deputy Dean Pär Forslund, January 2019

The faculty's areas are more important than ever
Dean Torleif Härd, December 2018

New EMA programmes at SLU despite strained budget
Vice Dean Richard Johnson, November 2018

Student numbers will grow – but not on their own
Vice-Dean Göran Bergkvist, September 2018

Summer longing and initiatives
Vice-Dean John Meijer, June 2018

The pussy bow blouse
Vice-Dean Hanna Bergeå, May 2018

Spring and students
Deputy Dean Pär Forslund, March 2018

Wishing you happy, multidisciplinary holidays
Dean Torleif Härd, December 2017

Photo: Mark Harris.

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