Nomination of professors at KTH reviewed
The results of the inquiry into the procedure of nominating professors at KTH have been presented to the KTH University Board.
“The nomination procedure of professors has been reviewed by an external legal expert,” says Board Chair Pia Sandvik. “Now we have materials for submitting a statement on a supervisory case to the Swedish Higher Education Authority (UKÄ), and we will await the results of UKÄ’s supervision of the case. We also have a basis for initiating a review of the process for nominating professors and other forms of teacher recruitment at KTH.”
The inquiry looked into how the procedure of nominating professors — kallelseförfarande, in Swedish —has been used at KTH since it was introduced in 2011, and the handling of a recent decision to nominate a professor. The conclusion of the external expert is that the nomination procedure conflicts with the regulations in the Higher Education Ordinance in regards to restrictiveness and the use of external assessment. According to the legal expert there are reasons to raise principled and strategic questions about the use of the nomination procedure of professors in earlier cases as well, as half of the cases involve individuals already employed at KTH. In total, 14 individuals have been nominated as professors at KTH since 2011. In some cases assessment by external experts has been performed, in other cases not.
Review of regulations
The University Board’s decision in connection with this inquiry includes a review of the internal regulations, particularly the employment rules, the guidelines for employment rules, and the administrative processes in all parts, as well as the preparation of the statement for UKÄ in the supervisory case.
The legal expert reports that despite speculation about conflicts of interest, there is no information in the decision or other written documentation in the case that the person who was nominated as professor had participated in the preparation or decision on the case, or that any administrator or decision-maker had reported a conflict of interest.
In the report, the legal expert, Mia Rönnmar, Professor of private law at Lund, reviews the national and local regulations for the nomination of professors, and how this instrument has been used at KTH since 2011. She recommends, among other things, that KTH ensures that internal regulations and hiring processes, including the nomination of professors, comply with national regulations in all respects.
“Different aspects of the nomination of professors at KTH have now been reviewed both generally and specifically, and we have thus received indication that KTH generally needs to review the local regulations and open up a discussion about the recruitment processes and how our important teachers are appointed,” Sandvik says.
Another recommendation from the legal expert is that KTH should develop and clarify the strategic use of recruitment, promotion and nomination of professors, respectively.