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The governance of the higher education agencies UHR and UKÄ should be more closely coordinated

To clarify the roles in the area of higher education, two new government agencies were created in 2013, and three old ones were dismantled. The Swedish National Audit Office’s audit reveals that the reform has largely achieved its objectives, but that the governance of the two agencies should be more closely coordinated.

Student taking notes in class room.

Photo: AMANDA JACKALIN / STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY

In 2012, the Government decided to dismantle the National Agency for Higher Education, the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services and the International Programme Office for Education and Training.

The tasks were allocated to the two new government agencies, the Swedish Council for Higher Education (UHR) and the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), both established on 1 January 2013.

The objective was, among others, to create a clear distribution of quality assurance and supervision on the one hand and service and promotion on the other, whilst also increasing the breadth of analyses in this area. In addition, the reform would lead to synergies.

The Swedish National Audit Office’s audit reveals, inter alia, the following:

  • The current regulatory structure functions in an essentially satisfactory manner.
  • The distinction between supervision and service is clear.
  • The Government has gained access to broadened analytical capacity.
  • The synergies sought have only been partially realised.
  • The Higher Education Institutions and student unions are generally satisfied with how UHR and UKÄ operate.

The National Audit Office also notes that the intentions behind the reform regarding clear roles have been difficult to maintain in certain areas, and that the boundary between examining, developing and promoting assignments is sometimes unclear.

“The audit shows that there are some uncertainties and unnecessary overlaps with regard to the boundaries between UHR's and UKÄ 's assignments, which can create more work," says Sara Monaco, project manager for the audit.

Recommendations

The National Audit Office recommends that the Government Offices consider having joint agency dialogues with UHR and UKÄ to ensure a coherent analysis and create conditions for a more effective governance.

Furthermore, the introduction of mutual representation on UHR's Board and UKÄ 's Advisory council could lead to improved and formalised coordination.

The Government is also recommended to provide additional clarification as to the division of responsibilities and resource allocation when agencies are given joint assignments.

"Our view is that steering UHR and UKÄ more coherently would promote a holistic perspective of the higher education area," says National Auditor Helena Lindberg.

Press contact: Olle Castelius, phone: +46 8-5171 40 04.

Presskontakt: , telefon: 08-5171 42 06.

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Updated: 29 January 2019

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