In the Service of Humanity - Higher Education and Research for a Sustainable Future
The SULF Vision 2030 unites issues concerning professional, educational and research policy with those regarding working conditions. It is a clear statement from SULF members about how they want to shape the future of universities.
Research and higher education are international activities. At both international and national levels, universities play an increasingly crucial role in terms of growth, innovation, culture and democracy and, consequently, future welfare.
The work of university teachers and researchers is a prerequisite for sustainable social development. The knowledge that future generations will gain from higher education requires a well-functioning higher education system, including academic freedom and good, competitive terms of employment for all university employees.
Vision 2030 has three main elements, the unrestricted search for new knowledge, education for the future and a critical force in society. This document is the union’s policy framework until 2030.
Using academic daily life as a point of departure, SULF has set its sights on the university of the future. Through this vision, SULF clearly states its position to politicians and policy makers, educational institutions and the general public.
Unrestricted Search for New Knowledge
The principle of academic freedom pervades both research and education meaning that students, researchers and teachers are free to choose research problems and publish their results without fear of reprisal. The unrestricted search for new knowledge requires that university teachers and researchers be independent and work to expand knowledge in the service of humanity.
In order to achieve this, appropriate research funding must be coupled with collegiate governance in which scientifically and pedagogically qualified staff make the decisions that affect their core activity. Working conditions and career paths are of equal importance and support the overall objective of unrestricted search for knowledge. This requires employment security, transparency in recruitment and ample opportunities to exchange ideas and experiences by periodically working at other universities in Sweden or abroad, or in other sectors.
The academic world of the future is characterized by unrestricted thinking and high quality. This is clearly observable in that teaching and research are integrated in all contexts. Students’ contributions to research are utilized through academic discussions with active research faculty and through their own participation in research.
Education for the Future
In an increasingly globalized world with a high degree of mobility between institutions, the importance of internationally-accepted knowledge and education increases. Higher education provides students with a good foundation for lifelong learning. Knowledge is not the property of the individual student alone, it is an investment in our common future and as a consequence, all higher education is free of charge for all students. Academic quality education provides students with the tools to develop their critical thinking and is essential for cultural, scientific, economic and technological development.
In order to create this situation, teachers’ status is high and pedagogical skills are highly valued. Students are given a real say in the design of their educations, sufficient time with their teachers and student-centred teaching methods are used. The link between research and education is strong in order to provide a good education based on scientific grounds.
For universities to be able to educate for the future, education and research policy is coherent and guarantees long-term financing providing the preconditions for creativity and a good working environment. A doctoral education of high quality is a prerequisite for securing the future of the academic world.
Critical Force in Society
Academia stands for the equal value and rights of all individuals. Active and critically-thinking citizens are the foundation of stable development in a democratic society. Academic knowledge production takes place without political, ideological or economic allegiances, and is based on the principle of academic freedom.
Teachers and researchers contribute to society by, in their interaction with the outside world, acting as a critical force in society. Independent researchers and teachers can freely publish new research findings and express their ideas. Universities’ interaction with society contributes to future prosperity. Accessibility is high and there are research-related educational courses all over the country, which also increases the number of students from non-academic environments.
Autonomy for the individual teacher and researcher is essential to create this scenario. Academia is also diverse with ethnic, geographical and socio-economic variation among both students and academic staff. If universities are to form a critical force, it must be easier for teachers and researchers to move between academia and society.