Lena Gustafsson, Vice-Chancellor at Umeå UniversityUMEA – From 11 to 14 June 2013 the FISU Rectors’ Forum will take place in Umeå. The main theme is “University and community growth through university sport“. The conference is organised in collaboration with Umeå University as a part of the celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the Swedish University Sports Federation.
Read the interview with Lena Gustafsson, Vice-Chancellor at Umeå University.
The theme of the 2013 FISU Rectors’ Forum is “University and community growth through university sport”. Does this reflect how Umeå University is working today?
‘Absolutely! The municipality of Umeå is both nationally and internationally promoting itself as The City of Sport: a strong university with a focus on sport is well in line with this. As a relatively small city (approx. 110,000 inhabitants) with a large university with close to 40,000 students, we both strive to attract more people to the region. Competition over students between universities is fierce, and as all small cities – especially away from major cities – the city needs to find novel ways to attract more visitors. A strong sport profile sets us apart from many other universities and regions, and I thereby feel that we really see sport as a growth factor both for the city of Umeå and for the university. Our vision is that sport will convince students that Umeå University is the right place to study, and also convince them to stay and settle down because of the city’s’ strong focus on sport.’
What will the delegates at the FISU Rectors’ Forum find when they arrive in Umeå?
‘First of all, of course, an interesting conference with the chance to meet and exchange ideas with people from around the world. Secondly, they will have the chance to experience Umeå during the short but intense summer, when the sun is up nearly around the clock. The post-conference tours and attractions are also well worth spending some extra time in Umeå after the closing ceremony – for example to travel a little bit further north to see the midnight sun.’
What convinced Umeå University that organising the FISU Rectors’ Forum is a really good idea?
‘Well, the theme reflects much of what we have seen and experienced for a number of years now. Namely that all benefit from a close collaboration between the university and its municipality. The time when a university existed as a separate entity is long gone. If we aim to attract more students, we need to find areas of collaboration. Sport is such an area that I strongly believe in.’
For you as Vice-Chancellor of Umeå University, what are your hopes for the conference?
‘I hope to welcome delegates from all around the world that are as fascinated as I am about the potential of sport as a growth factor. I also hope that we will be able to further our knowledge by the presentations – and to gain new ideas on how to collaborate and how to grow both as universities and communities. On a personal note, I of course also hope to meet and exchange ideas with people that will inspire us here in Umeå to intensify our work towards creating not only a City of Sport but also a University of Sport!’