How we can capture the opportunities of digitalisation

10 March 2022

Digitalisation is one of the strongest driving forces of development and innovation in today's society. This is particularly true in higher education and research. Umeå University is now embarking on a strategic effort to make better use of the opportunities offered by digitalisation.

Education can be renewed and made more accessible with the proper implementation of digital elements. The new conditions of the pandemic have accelerated developments. At the same time, students' expectations of how higher education is conducted seem to have changed a bit. In this context, however, it is important to safeguard a quality perspective, and not to uncritically embrace the new.

Hans Wiklund, University Director

Photo: Mattias Pettersson

Similarly, the research landscape is changing with digitalisation. With new technologies come new types of data, new ways of collecting and sharing data as well as new and more powerful ways of processing data. Some of these issues are addressed in the research data management project launched by the University in early 2022 as part of the University Board's SEK 315 million initiative to strengthen research and education.

The field of digitalisation is also the subject of major research efforts. The Centre for Transdisciplinary AI is a current and important initiative at Umeå University. It aims to promote research and education in artificial intelligence throughout the university, its applications and consequences, and to create a strong international research profile for Umeå University in this area that uses the university's breadth and opportunities for interdisciplinarity capabilities.

The efficiency and quality of the university administration can also be improved with the help of digital tools and automation, whereby resources can be freed up to create added value in research and education.

At the same time, the obstacles to responsible digitalisation should not be underestimated. This applies not least to legal and IT security challenges.

To drive and coordinate the University's digitisation work, the Vice-Chancellor decided in December 2021 to establish a Strategic Council for Digitalisation (DIGA). The council includes representatives from all faculties of the University. A first important task for the council is to develop and anchor a vision and strategy for digitalisation at Umeå University.

As part of the goal and strategy work, the council has invited representatives from Chalmers Institute of Technology, the University of Gothenburg, the Royal Institute of Technology, and the University of Tromsø, among others, to an open meeting in April. The aim is to exchange ideas and experiences on how best to organise strategic and systematic work to take advantage of the opportunities offered by digitisation.

In essence, it is about creating the best possible conditions and support for the university's various activities to be able to benefit of the of the opportunities of digitalisation.

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