Skip to content
Main menu hidden.
Published: 07 Feb, 2022

The University being reviewed: “Important to highlight these issues”

NEWS How is Umeå University working to be a safe place for work and studies for students and staff? This is what the independent external reviewer Karin Röding has been assigned to investigate until end of March. "It's important to highlight these issues," she says.

Text: Johanna Fredriksson

The Vision for Umeå University states that being characterised by an inclusive culture in which gender equality, diversity and equal opportunities are self-evident. Umeå University also has a zero tolerance against discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment and bullying.

Read Vision for Umeå University

Despite this ambition, cases of conduct not corresponding to that zero-tolerance policy have been highlighted recently at Umeå University.

For that reason, the University Management deemed it necessary to make vigorous efforts to create a safe place for work and studies. One part in that work is to assign an external expert with the task to independently investigate the University's handling of misconduct.

The investigation is to be forward-looking and not reassess previously made decisions pertaining to individual students or employees.

The external reviewer is Karin Röding, who has just taken on her new role.

"I think it is commendable that the Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University has taken this initiative. I have talked to the chair of the University Board who is also looking forward to bringing light to these issues," she says.

A broad background in the higher education sector

Karin Röding has a long and broad background in the Swedish higher education system.

Some of her qualifications come from several years in leading positions at several universities in Sweden, work as Deputy Director-General and Secretary of State at the Ministry of Education and Research, and Director-General of the Swedish Council for Higher Education, UHR.

Since autumn 2020, she has conducted various types of investigations in the higher education sector.

After #Meetoo, and during Karin Röding's time as Director-General, the Swedish Council for Higher Education was assigned by the Government to study universities' work against sexual harassment. The report was completed in 2019.

The topic itself is difficult and has several layers.

"When the report was completed, I presented the results to various instances in the higher education sector," says Karin Röding.

"The topic itself is difficult and has several layers. I prepared and studied the topic when the Swedish Council for Higher Education had this Government remit, so I feel comfortable taking on this assignment for Umeå University," she says.

In February and March, Karin Röding will look at Umeå University's current structures and systematic work when it comes to handling bullying, misconduct, harassment and sexual harassment. Among other things, she will review policy documents and hold several interviews.

Who will be interviewed?
"Deans, subordinates to the Vice-Chancellor, a selection of heads of departments, student union representatives, doctoral students, equal opportunities representatives, chief work environment representatives and representatives of the University Administration, such as the heads of the Communications Office and the Human Resources Office."

What will the interviews cover?
"I will ask how they work with issues like these, and if there are any activities that need to be strengthened. The questions will be similar, but they will be adapted to the assignment that the interviewee has.

Those who will be interviewed have already been or will be contacted beforehand.

"The interviews will be no surprise to anyone. To me, it's important that the interviewees receive the questions or topics a few days in advance to make them aware of what the interview will involve", says Karin Röding.

"I really hope the interviews will lead to fruitful discussions that will give me plenty of 'food for thought'."

"But the report will not be the end of this. It's merely a steppingstone in our long-term aim to improve and strengthen the work to achieve our vision for equal opportunities.

When she has gathered all the data, Karin Röding will make analyses and compose a final report. Subsequently, the report will be communicated to the University Management Council, employees and students.

"But the report will not be the end of this. It's merely a steppingstone in our long-term aim to improve and strengthen the work to achieve our vision for equal opportunities. We hope it will provide guidance in how to best work to continue being a safe place for work and studies," says Heidi Hansson, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Education and Equal Opportunities at Umeå University.