It is very exciting to have the responsibility of being a new president. Is there any difference between leading a young, small university and an old, big one? With six years’ experience as head of the University of Skövde, and now as President of KTH, I am able to make a comparison.
All universities in Sweden have the same mission; namely education, research and collaboration. The highest academic leadership has the same job, whether leading a small university or a big university locally, nationally and internationally. What differentiates the universities are their requirements and their size.
Many presidents of Swedish universities are eagerly awaiting the government’s research bill, which is expected to change the way that research grants are allocated. How will the bill affect a young university compared with an old one? I hope there will not simply be a redistribution of resources from one to another. That would only increase the polarisation between the different universities, which would not be good for Sweden. You can hardly argue that resources are being evenly spread; not with the distribution we have today. Of course there is good postgraduate education, research and collaborative research happening at the young universities. But at the same time, it is very important to continue to strengthen education and research at the big universities. KTH is an internationally successful university, which means a lot for Sweden.
As the president of KTH, it feels good to be running a really, really good organisation. We have a solid foundation to build on in order to take KTH to the next level. Our operation will rest on three pillars: equality, internationalisation and sustainability. To continue building excellence we need extraordinary education; students need to have the best conditions to be engaged and to succeed in their studies. Furthermore, there needs to be first-class research; and we need to do some prioritising there.
Finally, KTH has to systematically and continuously show a commitment to society. This can be done by ensuring that as many people as possible know about our research. It can also be done through our researchers working with both the private and public sectors. For me personally, it is also important that KTH uses its good reputation to contribute to society locally, nationally and internationally. KTH is in a unique position that we need to use in the best way possible. Let’s use our position and work together to contribute to the development of society. This will make KTH even stronger!