Important to preserve the breadth of research

In the last few weeks, KTH has been given new education contracts, both for the foundation year and also in the form of a promise of resources for lifelong learning. Being granted additional resources is a sign of trust, trust that must be managed well.

At the same time, I have been wondering what impact the ongoing pandemic and lockdown of society nationally and internationally will have on research. Announcements of relevance to different aspects of Covid-19 can be expected on the horizon, but my main worry concerns the breadth of Swedish research.

In the case of KTH, this concerns all other research within our areas. For example, some foundations base the extent of their research grant funding on share dividends, and reduced dividends would lead to reduced grants.

In the media, we can read that when industry starts up again, third stream/co-production research can be given a lower priority initially. The Knut och Alice Wallenberg Foundation principal council, consisting of the presidents of twelve research intensive universities, met the Minister for Higher Education and Research on 27 May, to discuss research and the risk that research will lose out when numerous education investments are made.

Work is continuing on the research and innovation bill, and we can certainly expect to see words on Covid-19 there.

One can only hope that research will not be crowded out. In the wake of this initial deprioritisation of research by industry, many people are wondering where this will leave externally employed doctoral students. Will we see a reduction in numbers and if this is the case, is this a new potential investment area for the government? Research and innovation are just as important as education investments in getting society back on its feet again after the crisis.

For us at KTH, where research makes up around 70 percent of what we do, it is important that the entire breadth of KTH research can continue to thrive.