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Back on track

A warm welcome to all new students and welcome back to everyone who has studied at KTH for one semester or more. It naturally feels extra special bearing in mind the pandemic we have lived through over the past 18 months and that has affected us all in different ways.

When our campuses are once again filled with students and personnel in person, it feels as though we are heading in the right direction and can take new steps in the development of research and education together with the lessons we have learned during the pandemic. We are following government recommendations and keeping an eye on the infection situation.

About two weeks ago, the if not longed for but very definitely sought-after inquiry into the Organisation, Governance and Financing of Research Infrastructure was published. (In Swedish)

There is a great deal of relevance and interest in the conclusions Special Commissioner Tobias Krantz has drawn.

Taking a combined grip on and producing a comprehensive analysis of an area that, for as long as I have been president, has swung or fallen between two stools. One stumbling block has obviously been financing that very largely falls on the universities themselves that far too frequently are forced to chip away at their basic funding that, to my eyes, is already far too meagre. While clarifying both governance and responsibilities with regular monitoring, is already largely being done today, I still think this is a good idea.

Why not try to standardise contractual issues concerning large national research infrastructures that involve many universities with one person in charge?

However, the inquiry proposal to establish two new bodies to eliminate any ambiguities for instance, is something I am more doubtful about. One of these is supposed to have a specific focus on a research structure of particular national interest and the other on digital infrastructures for research.

In the case of research infrastructure, resources are already scarce today and establishing two bodies risks swallowing a lot of money and personnel, and perhaps a bit unfairly, I associate this with Parkinson’s Law, that bureaucracy tends to grow more or less of its own accord, irrespective of any variation in the amount of work  to be done.

To obtain a sense of order in the digital infrastructures for research will be crucial in increasing efficiency and practical application, at the moment, there are far too many overlapping solutions that do not talk to each other.