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Sweden: Welcome to new University Chancellor

From 1 June 2014 Sweden has a new University Chancellor - Professor Harriet Wallberg. In this capacity, she will act as Head of the Swedish Higher Education Authority (SHEA), replacing the former chancellor Lars Haikola, who has taken up an advisory position in the Ministry of Education and Research. 

Wallberg was vice-chancellor of the Karolinska Institute for nine years (2004-2013) and before that she was Secretary-General for medicine at the Swedish Research Council. She is also a member of the Nobel committee at Karolinska and a member of the country’s Globalisation Council. 

The new chancellor will start with a hectic schedule in order to combine her duties at SHEA and work on the quality evaluation system, a task she had been assigned with shortly before taking up the new role at SHEA. The work on quality assurance largely rests with higher education institutions while SHEA has the steering responsibility in making sure that developments are going in the right direction, she said. Sweden needs a system to maintain the quality and not relax by the quality work done so far, according to her. She urged for new ways of cooperation among higher education institutions and for a dialogue between universities and SHEA. 

The main concerns the new chancellor mentions pertain to the reports of the decline in students’ entry qualifications, such as low mathematical skills among engineering students. “Sweden is a knowledge nation and knowledge is what we are going to base our social development on. We cannot compete by producing goods more cheaply”, she said.