Quality is a perishable thing

High quality in research, education and collaboration. That sounds good – but what does it really mean? A systematic strategy, a way of thinking and high credibility.

Quality is about appealing courses that attract many applicants – of which the ones accepted have a big slice of motivation, curiosity and ability. Quality is also about the applicants showing good potential to succeed in their learning. This is a joint responsibility; that KTH creates excellent conditions in which to learn and that the students show strong commitment to their studies. Quality resides in the research that is pursued and in our social involvement in both the public and the private sectors. It also resides in the innovations that emanate from KTH.

Quality is measured via various ranking lists, which is good, but quality is also ultimately about something that is more difficult to measure. Namely credibility and trust. That we produce skilled graduates and deliver innovative and useful research and that we create confidence in society that KTH can solve the challenges of both today and tomorrow. Internationalisation, equal opportunities, digitalisation and sustainable development are other clear quality markers in everything we do.

The foundation for this lies in solid and systematic internal work which permeates everyday activities at KTH. But as I noted above, quality is very much a perishable product and we cannot rest on our laurels – or at least not for any extended period, despite a well-developed quality culture.

We will be the subject of several comprehensive quality surveys over the next 12-months that should keep us tuned when it comes to both our courses and our research. This autumn, Universitetskanslersämbetet (the Swedish Higher Education Authority or UKÄ), will inspect our system for the quality assurance of courses. Then in spring, it will be time for our third Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). Here, both national and international assessors will take a look at our research and how this can be further developed.

A quality culture and to continuously think new thoughts, to develop and perfect are vital if we are to remain an elite university.