University should be the best time in life
Hello there Leif Kari, who takes the reins as Vice President for Education at KTH from 1 April. How does it feel?
– Brilliant. Working with KTH’s most exciting task – education - will be exciting, challenging, fun and an honour.
This is a new role at KTH. What are you going to be doing?
– The Vice President for Education is responsible for KTH courses in engineering, architecture and teacher training at foundation, first cycle, second cycle and third cycle for lifelong learning and their development.
What distinguishes a really good course?
– That the students are given the best possible opportunities for effective and appropriate learning, in teaching environments that are being continuously developed, with the support of committed and skilled teachers, individual study guidance, backed by efficient and practical administrative support. That the students achieve all local and national targets during the course of their education, manage their studies during nominal study hours, are sought-after by prospective employers – nationally and internationally - that they look back on their student days as the best time of their lives and strongly recommend their university to prospective students. That the teachers enjoy continuing professional educational development with the support of educational teachers and are involved in both teaching and research. The university casts its student recruitment net wide, with equal gender representation, from all social classes, including from non-academic environments; locally, regionally, nationally and globally. Our teaching staff are inclusive, committed, well-educated, open to change and equality with broad experience from academia, enterprise and the public sector, nationally and internationally, and have a good cooperative relationship with the student sections and students union. And that students, teachers and other support staff enjoy a good study/work/life balance.
What are the three most important areas for KTH when it comes to education?
– Here, I think Sigbritt Karlsson´s three key words apply: culture, quality and infrastructure, which are all strongly interlinked. A good learning environment requires opportunities such as good laboratory facilities, maker spaces and digital aids.
– National financing of infrastructure has been made more difficult in recent years and here, the central investment in the KTH infrastructure is a much needed boost. As a concept, quality embraces many aspects, such as that students are treated the same no matter which school they happen to be in – one KTH. The structure of the education programs and courses should be appropriate, student recruitment should be broad and equal, ditto the teaching staff. This is linked to the culture. What culture should be inculcated, developed and changed to also attract students and teachers that otherwise would not normally consider KTH? Plus, teaching work is often solitary work in many environments. A culture change can be worth considering, moving the focus from the individual teacher and their development to a greater focus on the development of teaching environments as a whole, consisting of many teachers with different experiences and teaching strategies. There are already numerous good examples of this at KTH. The same applies to third cycle education, where the individual supervisor and doctoral student are still the focus even though third cycle education has been structured in programs for several years. Here, there is a great deal to learn from the good experiences of teaching at first and second cycle.
Told for: Jill Klackenberg