During November 6-7, eight universities from Japan, Korea, China, Canada,Taiwan Germany, France and Sweden met in Sendai in Japan to discuss the possibilities to collaborate to reach excellence in education and research. The event was arranged by Tohoku University who has an overall aim to reach a top 10 ranking in the fields of Spintronics, Environmental & Earth Science, Cosmic Physics, Machine Science, and Materials Science. Together with the Director of Studies Anders Eliasson I attended a workshop focusing on materials science, where collaborations within the areas of “Metallurgy”, “Materials Science” and “Materials Processing” were discussed. Each university was given one hour each to explain the education of BSc, MSc and PhD students. In addition, visits to laboratories and meeting with students took place the second day. Here it was clear that the equipment at Tohoku University is very modern and advanced.
It is clear that it is difficult to collaborate with other universities on a Bachelor level, with the exception from the University of British Colombia in Vancouver. They already have 30% foreign students on their Bachelor programs, which all are given in English. On a MSc level, it is clear that the simplest way to reach a fruitful collaboration is by students carrying out MSc theses at a partner university. However, it is possible to create double degree programs with some universities.
It is also clear that it seems quite easy to collaborate on a PhD level with most universities. For example, Tohoku University has received at least 1 student per year from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering KTH during the last 15 years. During this meeting it was clear from discussions with several faculty members that more KTH students are welcome to carry out research in their groups.
One peculiar reflection was that the French universities got complain from the French authorities that they were ranked very low in international rankings. Then, a number of institutes and universities recently merged into the University of Lyon, which in total has 140 000 students (Yes! You read it correctly!). In this way they anticipate that they fast will obtain a higher ranking. I have an innovative solution, namely that we merge all science universities in Sweden to create the Royal Nobel University of Science!
No, I am kidding! We really need to reconsider what is important for us at KTH and not only consider ranking. Our main impact is through our undergraduate and graduate students. We need to give them a suitable “toolbox” so that they can contribute to developing societies in an innovative and sustainable manner!
/ Pär Jönsson, Deputy Head of School