Sweden forging elite university

Nieuws | de redactie
13 december 2011 | Sweden’s three top research institutes discuss bringing their operations under one roof to compete internationally. Possible outcome: an organization with 70.000 students and almost €1 billion in research funds.

France did it. The Netherlands debates it. Merginguniversities into bigger globally competitive organizations is envogue. Now this trend has reached Scandinavia. In Sweden, StockholmUniversity, the Karolinska Institute and the Royal Institute ofTechnology (KTH) currently talk about fusing their three topinstitutes into one in order to make it into the top 25 of theShanghai Ranking.

40% of Sweden’s research, 70.000 students

The new university’s operations would be split up into four mainareas: medicine, technology, natural sciences and humanities andsocial sciences. KTH would then specialize in technology,Karolinska Institute in medical sciences, while StockholmUniversity is likely to shift its focus to natural sciences andhumanities and social sciences.

The outcome would be an organization accounting for 40% ofSweden’s research activities, 6000 staff members, 70.000 studentsand a budget of over SEK9 billion (€990 million). “The presentnames will be kept as today, and the new university can beestablished without a demanding reorganisational process, in atimeframe that a new board will find suitable,” Professor KåreBremer, rector from Stockholm University commented.

Support by policymakers

“Geographically, the three units today are located close to eachother, and already collaborate in a large number of projects,activities and by the use of scientific equipment. The merger wouldmean that the international position of Stockholm and Sweden inhigher education and research becomes visible to a much greaterdegree that today,” Bremer argued.

The president of KTH, Peter Gudmundson, supported this sayingthat “we see a clear tendency throughout the world regarding theassociations between medicine, technology and natural sciencebecoming stronger. This is one of our most important efforts sofar.”

This push to merge universities into bigger more competitiveinstitutions is backed by Swedish policymakers as well. In therecent Swedish 2012 budget, Jan Björklund, Minister of Education,called upon national universities to initiate talks themselveswithout politicians interfering in the process.


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