Letter from the Dean

Last changed: 12 December 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 central to 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.

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