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Peter Gudmundson leaves the post of President on November 11, after nine years. (Photo: Susanne Hobohm)

KTH has made 'big strides'

Gudmundson reflects on his 9-year presidency

Published Nov 01, 2016

KTH President Peter Gudmundson can be proud. He has presided over nine years of progress at the university, though he quickly stresses that everything achieved during his term has been the result of teamwork.

“KTH has made big strides forward in terms of brand, rankings and international status, among other things; then of course there are always things that can be even better,” Gudmundson says.

The results are structured in hard figures that speak for themselves. Statistics show a number of successes in the areas of internationalisation, education, research and research training, collaboration and innovation, as well as on the overall economic front.

What has been most difficult about the job of president?

“Well, maybe not the hardest, but the most surprising challenge has been the breadth and quantity of issues to consider. But over time I have gotten used to that.”

What is the biggest lesson you’ve taken away during these years?

“How broad and deep KTH operations are, and how multifaceted our research really is. But also how incredibly important it is to delegate and trust one’s colleagues - otherwise this job would be difficult to do.

“Another important area is the interaction with the community and where we’ve been successful in the development of KTH's 11 strategic partnerships with business and public organisations.”

Other areas Gudmundson highlights are fundraising and the development of KTH Innovation that has put Stockholm and KTH on the world map in terms of innovation and entrepreneurship. Sustainable development is yet another area where KTH made gains. The university also became environmentally certified last autumn.

Has there been any issue on which you changed position over the years?

“I have realised that the solutions to the major problems facing society lie not only in technology. I was probably more single-minded in the beginning. We are focused on problems that are so complex that it requires interdisciplinary solutions and a close connection and collaboration with scientists in areas such as social sciences, humanities and medicine.

“Another thing that I really had a growing respect for over the years is the importance of solid preparation on various matters. At the same time, one must be very flexible and face situations on very short notice.”

During the Gudmundson era, the number of student applicants has increased significantly. For example, the number first-choice applicants for master of engineering programs increased from 2,286 (2007) to 3,793 (2016).

The proportion of female students has increased from 27 to 35 percent during the period. Likewise, the proportion of international students.

Are there any areas where you also wanted more of these kinds of improvements in the numbers?

“Yes, there always are. The degree of citations has not increased to the extent that I would have liked. And I still think that we have too many programs. It is not necessary to have so many.”

Something you wanted to have more of?

“No, not really. Everything that we have achieved over the years is the result of a team effort, but in a perfect world it would have been good with a little more time for reflection and strategic development thinking. My agenda has been filled from morning to night.”

What will you miss?

“In this role, you have great influence and can make an impact. It’s being involved in development and being well-informed on social issues, both nationally and internationally. It's great fun! I will probably miss that, but every chapter in life has to come to an ending.”

He also says he appreciated the recurrent research visits, the opportunity to meet committed researchers, teachers and students, and delving into KTH's daily core business.

What were some real highlights during these years?

“When we got SciLifeLab in place with KTH as the host university, and when QS ranked KTH as one of the world's top 100 universities for the first time, in 2015. That was a milestone. Then, of course, the visit by President Barack Obama in 2013 was very special.”

So after November 11, your last day as president, you return to campus as an ordinary person, or rather as a professor of material mechanics?

“Yes, I will return to the School of Engineering Sciences. I will engage in research and training in solid mechanics but also other tasks internally and externally. We will see.”

Jill Klackenberg 

Taking stock of the years 2007-2016

  • In the QS global rankings, KTH has gone from place 192 to 97; and in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings from place 192 to 159 during the same period.
  • A leader in the European Institute of Innovation and Technology, European research cooperation in which KTH is a partner in four of the five consortia.
  • International strategic partnerships currently include partnerships with several leading universities around the world.






Full time students 

11 927

12 244


- of which are female




Number of first-choice applicants  to master
of engineering programs

2 286

3 793


Number accepted to master of engineering

1 597

1 845


- of which are female




Number of master of engineering degrees 


1 316


Number of admitted fee-paying students




Number of outgoing exchange students




Research and research education





Basic grants (million SEK)                


1 132


External grants (million SEK)


1 649


Number of doctorate degrees




Number of active research students

1 434

1 839







Number of professors




- of which are female

16 (7%)

42 (15%)


Number of associate professors




- of which are female

29 (15%)

66 (23%)


Number of assistant




- of which are female

23 (31%)

11 (19%)


Number of lecturers/guest lecturers




- of which are female

53 (24%)

45 (30%)


Proportion international faculty




Cooperation and innovation





Total adjunct professors




Total new ideas with KTH Innovation




- from students




- from researchers




Management and finances





Income (millions SEK)

2 938

4 787


Administrative capital (millions SEK)            




Unspent (millions SEK)