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A proposal without major reforms

The government budget proposal for 2022 does not include any major reforms and has more an air of carry on as normal. However, there are a few things to be pleased about from KTH’s perspective.

The increase in basic funding that was included in the spring budget amendment voted through in parliament last spring, is one. These 31 million kronor are now a permanent increase for the coming three years. (The budget proposal in Swedish).

At risk of repeating myself, I would however like to stubbornly stick to my stated conviction that this is far from enough if Sweden and its universities are to be able to punch their weight in global competition in the long-term. This modest rise barely offers scope to be able to engage in innovative research or offer security for researchers and at the same time meet the increasing demands for co-funding.

Another good piece of news in the bill is that the idea of profile areas has been postponed and will hopefully be completely dismissed. The proposal where each university should showcase their respective profile areas and in so doing, be able to claim extra funding was never particularly well thought through from the start. Clarity of expression rarely emerges from muddy thinking.This has been addressed by me in a previous post.

That the lifelong learning initiative that was originally temporary has now been extended for a further three years with eleven million per year, is good and means we can now aim to make further progress in the systematic structuring of this area. The budget also includes an initiative in new career change study support that can encourage regular skills development. It sounds good, but does not provide anything specific as to what this will look like.

Plenty of questions remain – concerning how many new student KTH will receive funding, for example. Another question concerns strategic research areas, where only a marginal increase in the grant for next year has been proposed. The future for this remains unclear and it is uncertain if and when an evaluation of these strategic research areas that the minister spoke about in the spring will happen.

What the continuing journey of this bill through the political system will look like seems to be anyone’s guess at the moment. It is uncertain whether it will be adopted in parliament in November, even though the items that concern universities and colleges do not appear to be crucial to whether or not the budget is passed.