Discussing opportunities and challenges with Ministry for Education and Research

All universities and higher education institutions are called to an annual dialogue meeting (myndighetsdialog) with representatives from the Ministry of Education and Research.  Last week it was Karolinska Institutet’s turn. During this important dialogue we discussed three opportunities and challenges for our university.

A high-ranking medical university – meeting global competition.

Karolinska Institutet is a high-ranking medical university but global competition is constantly increasing. To meet this challenge we need a strategic agenda which in turn demands increased base funding. Moreover, we would also benefit from greater autonomy, enabling us to build up capital to a greater extent than today, owning property and establishing operations abroad. Other important steps to maintain and strengthen our international position is to adjust our doctoral education to the international standard, i.e. 1 + 3 years, and expand scholarship programmes to facilitate recruitment of the best students in international competition.

Focusing on high quality, good work environment and leadership, proper routines and solid ethical values will deliver success – how do we get the whole university on board?

I am convinced that high ethical standards, outstanding leadership and good working work environment but also proper routines and high quality are not in contrast with, but are in fact prerequisites for success.

Fantastic new arenas are being created for education, health care and research – this is however associated with large financial and collaborative challenges. To meet this challenge we need to strengthen our collaboration with the Stockholm County Council even further and we need to reserve administrative capital.

Together with the Ministry representatives we also discussed the problems that KI is facing in identifying placement alternatives for our students in some of our study programmes, and that we would like an increased funding cap. We are well equipped to scale up our education:

We are needed – we provide education that is in high demand in the health care sector and in industry, nationally as well as globally.

We are able – we have strong research, good quality study programmes and very competent teachers.

Last but not least – we are willing to increase education at KI!

We also discussed the recruitment goal for female professors for 2012-2015.The goal was to recruit 47 percent female professors and KI reached 36 percent during the whole period. However, in 2015 the fraction was 45 percent. We will strive wholeheartedly to increase the fraction of female professors but we will never compromise with quality. We believe that quality assured recruitment processes are important as are specific initiatives such as directing extra resources to departments that recruit female professors.

We discussed gender mainstreaming- a task our government has commissioned all higher education institutions to address. Gender mainstreaming means for instance working with gender based choice of study programmes as well as equal career opportunities. As for the study programmes it will be important to have a discussion with the stake holders on the labour market. Overall 72 percent of KI’s students are female, for some programmes the number is as high as 90 percent. For professors, 29 percent are female. Progress in these issues demands management support.

The very pressing issue of integrating newly arrived refugees and how KI can contribute to this, was also discussed.  We are already providing complementary education for doctors, dentists and nurses, and we are prepared to expand this to other programmes if we can maintain quality. I believe that we could do much more when it comes to providing training for people with a research degree, or similar, in our research groups. This is something that we should try to roll out together.



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