The JTH project

The JTH project aimed to develop the School of Engineering, a school of applied sciences within the Jönköping University Foundation, into a technical university with its own doctoral degree rights.

Background

The technical education developed very positively from the start in 1994 with a doubling of the number of student spots to about 1000 in the year 2000. The School of Engineering thus became one of the largest educators of graduate engineers in the country. At the same time, the business community in the region , via the Chamber of Commerce, was requesting higher technical education.

This led to discussions about how more PhD teachers and researchers could be recruited to the School of Engineering to raise the quality of existing education and to be able to get degree rights for higher education at master's level. It was agreed that it was necessary to create an attractive research environment with its own doctoral education at the School of Engineering.

The JTH Association

However, the Jönköping University Foundation did not have the financial resources for such a research initiative and therefore held discussions with the business community through the Chamber of Commerce and the regional public sector to create a research fund with shared responsibility for financing the research environment and the postgraduate education at the School of Engineering.

In this context, the Association for Jönköping’s School of Engineering (JTH Association) was formed in 1999 to support the school’s JTH project and with the purpose of working to develop the School of Engineering into a technical university with a doctoral degree in the field of technology. An agreement was signed and financing of the research fund began in 2002.

The Research Fund

The research fund was intended to be used at a pace that enabled a rapid expansion of research and postgraduate education, enough for the School of Engineering to obtain the necessary degree rights and long-term basic funding for research in the field of technology, according to the Swedish state’s stipulations at the time.

The investment of a total of about SEK 65 million from each business community and the public sector in the region during the period 2002-2010 has together with the university's investment resulted in a basic funding of about SEK 25 million per year from 2006 and a total annual research volume of about SEK 50 million including that sought externally both in competition and received funds. This is considered the minimum level to found a technical university with the technology field of science and thus doctoral degree rights in the entire field of technology.

Technical science area

However, when it came to the ambition to obtain a technology science field with doctoral degree rights in the entire technical field, it eventually turned out that the "timing" of the JTH project did not match the Swedish state’s intentions. After a few years of enquiries, the Swedish states decided to replace the broad areas of science, such as technology, with narrower areas of knowledge for doctoral degrees at the newer universities. At the same time, the basis for national funding for universities' research and postgraduate education changed and no longer followed the degree rights in the same way. The new funding basis was performance-based, which benefited Jönköping University, which had a relatively high proportion of externally received research funding.

As the region's investment reduced from the level of SEK10 million per year from each part to SEK 7.5 million in 2009, SEK 2.5 million in 2010 and completely ceased in 2011 while at the same time the national conditions the changed, the university was not able to fully replace the research fund for a couple of years. For the transition period, the Swedish state granted Jönköping University SEK 15 million to JTH. Thanks to the fact that the new national funding base was performance-based, however, the university was expected, after the transition period, to be able to provide the School of Engineering with basic funding for research corresponding to the high ambition of a technical university with doctoral degrees.

Doctoral degree in industrial product development

The ambition for doctoral degree rights was fulfilled in 2010 for the School of Engineering by the university applying for and receiving its own degree right at postgraduate level in the technology area Industrial Product Development with the three postgraduate subjects: machine design, materials and manufacturing processes and production systems. This right is also accompanied by a master's degree in the field of Industrial Product Development.

Thanks to the region's investment, research and postgraduate education at the School of Engineering has had a strong development during the project period with an increase in research volume to approximately SEK 50 million and the number of postgraduate students to approximately 40 in 2010. The research has focused on the needs in small and medium sized manufacturing companies.

The overall focus of the research is Industrial Product Development and is jointly carried out and conducted within the four research areas: Product development, materials and manufacturing, production systems and information systems. All research is company-related and is conducted in collaboration with the business community. The largest research group is within casting, and the collaboration with SweCast (Gjuteriföreningen) makes it one of the leaders in the world.

The JTH project has reached its goal

We can conclude that the JTH initiative was very successful and has resulted in a university with an extensive technical education which from 2009 amounted to over 2000 full-time student spots. The School of Engineering is Sweden’s third largest educator of university engineers / technical candidates, after Chalmers and KTH, has a master's degree and extensive two-year technical education in the region. Furthermore, for a number of years, the School of Engineering´s students have reached the top position in the country in terms of employability according to the Swedish Higher Education Authority’s evaluations. A confirmation of the positive development is that JTH in 2009 was chosen as Technology Educator of the Year by Technology Companies in Sweden.

As the School of Engineering has achieved the goal of obtaining a the right to award doctoral degrees, and thus constitutes a full-fledged technical university, the JTH project has achieved its purpose. Both the JTH project and the JTH association were thus closed in 2010.

Roy Holmberg
The JTH association's executive official

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