The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions
The Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions was founded in 1995 as an organisation for institutional cooperation on a voluntary basis. 38 universities and university colleges in Sweden are members (16 universities, 18 university colleges and 4 university art colleges).
The Association aims at promoting sector interests to external actors and at strengthening internal cooperation. The Association was set up by the universities and university colleges themselves, the initiative being taken by the rectors concerned. It was as a merger between two existing rectors’ conferences.
There are no official duties or responsibilities, since the Association is not regulated by law. The Association has no legal status, although in practice it is acknowledged as the representative of universities and university colleges as a sector.
The Association is governed by statutes adopted in 1995 with later amendements. The Association aims at promoting sector interests to external actors and at strengthening internal cooperation. SUHF provides an arena for exchange of views and cooperation among its member institutions and safeguard their interests.
The decisions, on principle issues, are taken by the General Assembly comprising all member institutions. The Board, currently consisting of seven rectors and one university director, the Presidium, consisting of the chairman, vice-chairman and secretary general and a small office deals with current business.
Normally the Assembly meets twice a year and the Board seven times a year. The presidium meets weekly.
No public authorities control or are members/observers of the Association, because it would be quite contrary to the ideas in which the Association was established. The Association have good working relationships with public authorities, for example The National Agency for Higher Education, Research Councils and other funding bodies. The Presidium of the Association meets the Secretary of State regularly for informal discussions. Sometimes governmental representatives (Minister or Secretary of State) are invited for special presentation at Assembly meetings.
The statutes stipulate that all decisions taken in the Assembly must be prepared by the Board. The questions discussed in and decided by the Board are prepared by the Presidium and by the staff.
Decisions concerning the member institutions are recommendations. The statutes contain rules for voting (each member having one, two, three or four votes depending on size). In a few exceptional cases the Assembly has taken a majority decision, using these rules. However, the Association in most cases attempts to take decisions by consensus or by an informal voting technique.
Every meeting results in minutes, which are distributed to all members. The website is the most important window to expose all activities connected to the Association. An electronic newsletter is published 8 times a year where all major activities are mirrored. The newsletter (in Swedish) is free for anyone to subscribe via e-mail.
Eligable for membership are universities and university colleges that have the right to award degrees according to the Higher Education Ordinance (issued by the government). Memberships are decided by the General Assembly. The statutes stipulate that at the Assembly meetings each member institution is represented by its rector and at most one more representative. The latter one shall be an administrator. There are no rules to maximise the period during which an institutional head can represent his/her university or university college at Association meetings or as a member of the Board. The term of office for a rector is six years, with a possibility for re-election for another three year period.
Many of the activities in the Association are run by different kinds of permanent or more temporary working groups dealing with various issues of importance to the HE-sector.
The Association is an arena for discussions and decisions in the field of higher education. We address issues of principle nature as well as more concrete practical handling ones. Our other working methods are conferences, reports, seminars and direct contacts with Parliament, Government as well as government commissions and agencies.
Examples of current activities:
- Funding of undergraduate teaching and learning
- Research policies, especially funding issues
- Relations to industry and commerce
- Institutional autonomy and the legal position of higher education institutions
- Gender problems in recruiting academic top leaders
- Long-term development of auditing within the higher education sector
- Nordic co-operation
- European co-operation, Bologna and establishment of ERC
- Open Access
Financing of the Association
The Association is financed by fees paid by the member institutions. The fees are based on the turn-over figures from each member institution. The budget is 7 600 000 SEK (approx. 700 000 euro) mainly to finance the office of the Assocation.
The National Agency of Higher Education is the central agency responsible for matters relating to institutions of higher education. On its website can be found general information about Higher Education in Sweden, statistics, the legal framework, the quality auditing system and publications.
Studyinsweden.se is a comprehensive resource for information about higher education in Sweden, geared towards prospective students from outside Sweden. The site incorporates a frequently updated database of English-language programmes, an overview of the Swedish higher education system, practical information about visas and accommodation, scholarships, application procedures and pointers for learning Swedish as a foreign language. The Swedish Institute (SI) is responsible for the website.
The Swedish Research Council is the major research council and is a government agency under the Ministry of Education and Research. The Council has three main areas of responsibility: research funding, research policy and science communication.
Swedish Agency for Innovation Systems (VINNOVA), integrates research and development in technology, transport and working life. VINNOVA´s mission is to promote sustainable growth by financing RTD and developing effective innovation systems.