There are many things to look forward to over the summer in Sweden, especially in July when Almedalen is held. Almedalen is a huge gathering of brilliant minds where political parties, media and other organisations get together for a week in the scenic island of Gotland. It’s been 50 years since the event first kicked off, and it is becoming increasingly relevant in this day and age including for the higher education industry.
Sqore has been regular attendees for a while now and we look forward to the events that go on each year. There were over 4,000 events scheduled for the week – including talks and seminars with the top movers and shakers in the higher education market. Here are the two biggest takeaways for us to think about in 2018.
Academy, part of the Academic Work network, held a seminar titled “Livslångt lärande i praktiken – hur når vi dit?” (Lifelong Learning in Practice – How Do We Get There?) discussing the importance of lifelong learning and the strategies that Sweden will need to put in place.
Who is it for, and what are the expected results? Chalmers University of Technology, for example, are now offering Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC) for all alumnis called ChalmersX. The Swedish government is also making effort to simplify the process for universities to host online education.
The question is – who should be bearing the cost? This hasn’t been clear for a while now. Right now, most institutions are financed by the government in Sweden. Could the long-term solution be a collective effort between the government and the student? For professionals wanting to accelerate the career, their respective companies could also play a part.
Uppsala University and the Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions also held a joint seminar. The topic of discussion was the strategy of building Sweden as a knowledge nation through the internationalisation of universities.
But how will Sweden get there? Some strategies discussed include implementing efforts to increase the country’s attractiveness as a study destination. Whether a university is recruiting from Asia or Africa, these strategies will need to bear in mind the differences between the markets.
There are also issues inherent with making that happen, such as the tough housing market in bigger cities – which means less space for short-term residents like international students.
There is also a big difference between top programmes and universities and the less attractive ones. These universities will need to bridge the gap and keep up. The Swedish Minister for Higher Education and Research, Helen Hellmark Knutsson, also participated in the debate. She sees that there might be an opportunity for universities struggling to get quality domestic students to attract international students.
Looking back at all the inspiring events that happened throughout the week, it looks like Almedalen 2018 has truly made an impact with so many people – including us here at Sqore. Over the dozens of events we went to over the seven days, we face the future with more ideas to face the coming challenges and to drive the higher education industry forward.