Startpage for Swedish National Agency for Higher Education

Please note! The Swedish National Agency for Higher Education was closed down on 31 December 2012. Instead two new agencies have been established: the Swedish Council for Higher Education and the Swedish Higher Education Authority. This website will continue to operate as the new agencies will have links to information it contains.  

2004:7 R

Evaluation of Undergraduate and Postgraduate Education in Ethnology at Swedish Higher Education Institutions

This report gives an account of the findings of an evaluation of undergraduate and postgraduate education in Ethnology. The evaluation was performed by the National Agency for Higher Education in 2003. For this evaluation assignment, the Agency engaged an external assessor group comprising experts from Finland, the Faeroe Islands, Norway and Sweden.

The National Agency for Higher Education finds, on the basis of the assessor group´s report, that the quality of undergraduate and postgraduate education in Ethnology is good at the institutions concerned: Göteborg University, Lund University, Stockholm University, Umeå University and Uppsala University. This also applies to undergraduate study programmes in Ethnology at Gotland University, Mid-Sweden University and the University College of South Stockholm (Södertörns högskola). The Agency has decided to support Gotland University's application for the right to confer Master's degrees with in-depth and advanced studies in Ethnology.

The assessor group´s report shows that Ethnology is a well-established subject with a strong identity. At most higher education institutions, ethnological perspectives and knowledge are called for in many other study programmes and subject areas that are sometimes far removed from the subject of Ethnology as such. For example, ethnologists at Lund University take part in interdisciplinary projects that include such subjects as Medicine and Economics. Ethnology occupies a strong position at the University College of South Stockholm, since the comprehensive nature of the subject fits in well with the institution´s multicultural and multidisciplinary profile. The assessor group also finds that the study programmes evaluated do not diverge in terms of orientation to any great extent.

The contemporary perspective, i.e. a focus on the study of the various cultural forms of expression of modern people or groups, is predominant. The study programmes are therefore recommended to demarcate the historical perspective more clearly and develop various profiles. One good example of successful profile development is Umeå University´s study programme in music ethnology. The Ethnology study programmes also stand out as having a national, and in some cases local, focus. The international features should be expanded through the use of Nordic and other international literature to a greater extent. Moreover, there is little knowledge of opportunities for international exchange, and their availability is also limited. The assessor group therefore recommends making major efforts to expand international undergraduate and PhD student exchange.

The report clarifies a number of issues associated with the 1998 reform of postgraduate education. At several institutions, steps have been taken adapt postgraduate education to the new reform, but further measures are required. The increasing time pressure on PhD students represents a greater need for clarity, with routines, requirements and expectations that should be documented and easily accessible.

The special handbook for postgraduate education that has been issued at Umeå University is cited as a good example. Similarly, the individual study plans should be used more actively, and better use should be made of the scope for supervisor training. In addition, PhD students should be given more similar conditions, irrespective of the form of financing. For example, Uppsala University gives all its postgraduate students operational grants for use during their studies.

In terms of scholarship, the teachers are highly competent. However, the scope for research and skills development at work varies. The assessor group therefore recommends that teaching staff should be able devote at least 30 per cent of their annual working hours to research. Structure of the report.

This report is in two parts. The first contains the decisions and reflections of the National Agency for Higher Education. The second consists of the external assessor group´s report. This report comprises an account of the group´s starting points for their investigation, an overall analysis of the evaluation, and impressions and recommendations for each individual educational institution. The assessor group is responsible for the content of its own report. The Agency's decisions and reflections are based on the assessor group's report.