Competence without borders

Now that it’s time once again to welcome international students to KTH Royal Institute of Technology, I am as usual pleased that our excellent global reputation has made an impact. This is apparent by the fact that many people are choosing to spend the whole or part of their study years here.

KTH’s campus has an international character and tangibly demonstrates in its everyday activities that both knowledge and research essentially have no boundaries, or perhaps rather that they cross boundaries. It is important to protect this, and mixed research settings most likely provide the greatest benefits and the best results. Otherwise, there is a risk – above all when it comes to research environments – that different group compositions will result in widely varying realities. The same applies to learning groups, that studying together in international groups prepares students for a global job market and fosters an understanding of different cultures.

At KTH we start from the same values in order to create attractive environments for work and learning in which, as far as possible, there is an international mix of women and men interacting, ensuring that the work culture is not too splintered. This naturally means that variations are always welcome.

Collaboration across boundaries is something of a core feature of research and its fundamental concept. Internationalisation being the path towards increased quality and for tackling social challenges has long been an important and desirable factor for many researchers. Knowledge and skills are developed through exchange and input from other countries and researchers. As globalisation has increased in pace, this has become an increasingly obvious reality for many people. On 31 January, a proposal for an internationalisation strategy will be issued by the commission of inquiry on internationalisation appointed by the Swedish Government.. I hope that the opinions continuously submitted by KTH to the inquiry will be reflected in the interim report and, eventually, in the final report.

The fact that since 2009, KTH has been in engaged in research collaborations of various scopes with around 65 of the world’s countries is a clear indication of its significance. The surrounding world is changing rapidly, and it is necessary to have the courage to think in new ways and be open to new partners with rapidly growing and increasingly competitive research. International co-publishing and citation is a result of the international impact of researchers. Several of KTH’s research environments are at the absolute forefront of research and are internationally renowned and visible. Other research settings need to expand their international publication and international presence.

A report from the Swedish Foundation for International Cooperation in Research and Higher Education outlines the countries with which Swedish seats of learning more or less traditionally work with while indicating countries growing in terms of research that it might be worth concentrating on. It is important to also take the leap to join forces with new countries and regions in research collaborations.

I encourage our Swedish students and researchers to pack their bags and study/research for a term or two at a foreign seat of learning, as it is important and provides memories, perspectives and skills that will last a lifetime.