KTH’s Vice Dean says goodbye after almost 9 years
He has been Vice Dean for three terms of office, almost nine years, during which time he has worked with two Presidents and three Deans. The reason for staying in his post for so long is that he wanted to see the results of a number of projects that had been started. What gives him the greatest satisfaction now is the improvement in the status of the study programmes.
Per Berglund was first selected as vice dean at a supplementary election in 2010, since when he has been re-selected another two times. One important reason why he wanted to continue for a second term was the project involving educational developers. This was a three-year project that ran from 2014 to 2016.
“It was a project that I did a lot of work on, and one of which I’m really proud. We appointed 20-25 people, enthusiasts who wanted to work on educational development, in a completely new role.”
The project was not easy to implement, with strong resistance in some quarters. But now in retrospect, Per Berglund believes that more people can see the value of the work done by the educational developers.
“It caused a few ripples and helped to raise the status of education – and in so doing also improved its quality.”
Another source of pride for him is that KTH succeeded in getting the government to pull back from the proposal to do away with the foundation year programme in technology.
“With more and more people deciding to enter university education late in life, the foundation year programme was becoming increasingly important. And those students who completed the foundation course in technology did really well at KTH.”
Recent years have been characterised largely by work on the new quality assurance system. A lot of effort has gone into ensuring that the fears of too much assessment and not enough development should prove groundless. And to prevent the assessment work becoming unreasonably extensive, it is also being spread out over several years.
“We are selecting certain things for assessment in one year, and others the next. Over a six-year period we will have reviewed all the assessment points. The aim is of course to identify weak points and have in place a system for doing something about them.
He also points out that the basic model for the quality assurance system is not something that KTH can opt out from. It follows the Swedish Higher Education Authority’s new quality assurance requirements – requirements that all universities are required to comply with.
As Vice Dean, Per Berglund, just like his predecessor, has overall responsibility for the courses and study programmes. However, his successor won’t, because there is now a deputy vice-chancellor with special responsibility for courses and study programmes. It is a change in which Per Berglund sees both benefits and drawbacks.
“It’s good to have clarity with regard to who is responsible for educational matters in the university management. At the same time however it was an important signal that responsibility for courses and study programmes lay with someone who was appointed by the faculty. For me, being elected has been a strength.”
At the end of June Per Berglund will leave to return to full-time teaching, research and his position as Professor at Industrial biotechnology.
“It has been fantastically enjoyable and exciting to get to work at the very centre of a seat of learning like this. All the creativity that exists here and all the highly-skilled people – researchers, teachers and in those in support roles.”
If he has any advice for his successors, it is to stand up for the influence of the faculty board.
“Make sure that the faculty board continues to play an important role at KTH and that there continues to be continuing critical dialogue between colleagues – because you need to have a creative environment. That is what distinguishes our university from just any business.”
Text: Ursula Stigzelius