Much is about in politics. At least as much as it concern research and hight education – the two fields I work with the most. And there are some key buzzwords that keep popping up.

Quality.

Last year came one of the Government’s official studies, ”Resources for quality” (SOU 2007:81 – Swedish only), and later ”Career for quality” (SOU 2007:98 – also Swedish). There’s even ”Financing research – quality and relevance” (SOU 2008:30 – Swedish). There really seems to be a lot quality around.

Meanwhile, I’m part of an expert group to The Association for Swedish Higher Education (SUHF) that is to define what ”quality” actually means… Because nobody has any idea.

Several different studies by student unions around the country have shown that few students can be made to spend more than 15 to 20 hours per week studying alone. The rest of the time should be time you spend in class or otherwise in touch with your teachers. The unions’ studies show that some spend less than 5 hours per week in class…

…This is what we call Quality.

Freedom.

Then we have Freedom. This is the other buzzword that is popular these days. Especially in other parts of politics, but I’ll stick to R&E for now. For instance the mandatory membership in student unions will be lifted. At least that is what the study ”Freedom for students” (SOU 2008:11 – Swedish) suggests. And that must be freedom, right? Freedom for the university to get away with more. Freedom for unions to spend more of their budgets on parties to show their existence. Freedom all around.

There’s also another study on it’s way that will report how universities can be given greater freedom from the government. Freedom not to rely on their most important investor but having to listen to large companies that try to influence them.

Freedom is a tricky word that is constantly overused. People should remember that in nearly all cases freedom involves giving up freedom.

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