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Diversity of background is the way forward

Who is the typical KTH student? I get that question sometimes and the answer becomes more and more obvious: It’s different.

About a month ago, I had the opportunity to attend a meeting where those who work with the reception of students starting at KTH this autumn participated in workshops and lectures under the heading “Leadership, sustainability and inclusive reception”.

I am convinced that KTH, through Tekniska Högskolans Studentkår (THS) and the collaboration with, among others, KTH’s Education Office, has a very good and relevant reception to make everyone feel included and welcome. The basic idea is that no matter who you are, where you come from or what background you have, you are welcome at KTH.

The horror stories of the old days about hazing and other initiation rites to higher education thankfully feel very distant. In those days, the purpose of hazing was to mould and “purify” the new students so that they became “real” students. They had to fit into the system.

Today, it’s just the opposite, where differences are celebrated. This also goes hand in hand with the view and importance of broader recruitment. I hope that the new students feel welcome on campus and that they get a good introduction to their studies and student life.

The social imbalance in recruitment to higher education is still significant and Sweden is missing out on a number of talents. Attracting new groups of students to study remains a constant priority. It is not only a question of justice for the individual, but also a question of quality, social benefit and participation in the development of society.

For KTH, broader recruitment is crucial as the engineering profession is still male dominated. We risk losing both talent and important perspectives if we fail to be relevant and interesting to broader groups in society. Societal challenges require the participation of the entire society to be solved, and universities are part of engaging everyone in this important work for the future.