Filip Axelsson - Authorfilip.firstname.lastname@example.org
The university board of KTH decided today, November 22, that both campus Kista and campus Södertälje will close down – except for the Electrum laboratories in Kista. All education will move to either the main campus or Flemingsberg. Here is what you need to know, whether you are a student at the affected campuses or not.
As Oqsledaren has previously reported, KTH is currently suffering from a deep economic crisis. Earlier this year, KTH started investigating closing the campuses in Kista and Södertälje as a cost-cutting measure.
Deputy president of KTH Mikael Lindström put forward five scenarios for the management group of KTH on the 28th of March. Two of the scenarios included moving the operations from Södertälje and Kista respectively and the ITM and EECS schools were tasked with outlining the potential consequences of such moves.
The process has been criticized as non-transparent by students and teachers alike. One of the most vocal opponents has been THS Teacher of the Year 2022, Carl-Mikael ”Bellman” Zetterling, based in Kista. He expressed his worries in an open letter published on his LinkedIn on Monday, November 20.
”[Translated from Swedish] I mainly want to point out the lack of real anchoring of this decision. The circus started this spring when we were instructed to produce a SWOT analysis with the pros and cons of a move. We thought that, when we […] couldn’t find either economic or quality-improving arguments for the move, it would end there. Instead, the head of the school of EECS was tasked with replacing those findings and ’provide positive aspects of a move from Kista to Valhallavägen’. We have not been allowed to see this decision material, and we’ve been told that the material that the deputy president sent out ahead of the university board meeting is ’classified’.”
The material in question is not classified in the legal sense but has not been officially published and is different from the material available on KTH’s website. The post on LinkedIn had 325 reactions at the time of writing, November 22, at 14:14.
Another criticism that KTH has received is that the university board decision does not include concrete details of how a move will happen, which creates uncertainty for students and staff. The press release clarifies that the aim is to have the move completed by 2027. In the press release that accompanied the decision, the president of KTH, Anders Söderholm, says:
”At the beginning of next year, we will have projects and timetables ready for the various relocations that describe how it will be done in more detail. But the change as a whole will take several years.”
Osqledaren reached out to the chapters present at Kista and Södertälje. The chapter president of the TT-chapter in Södertälje, Oskar Lundberg, said:
”[Translated from Swedish] It’s very sad that campus Södertälje will close down.We are many in Telge that will miss our pleasant study spaces and good sense of community. The decision was expected, and after the closure of the TIMAS and TIIPS programs, this has been in the air for us. But we are turning a new leaf and focusing on the upsides of a move.”
”We hope the move will be smooth with support from KTH and THS. Us chapter active hope and believe that this move will not prevent our continued operations in Telge tekonologsektion (although a name change may be necessary).”
The chapter president of the IN-chapter in Kista, Fredrik Jogell, expresses criticism towards the process:
”[Translated from Swedish] KTH published a more in-depth analysis in September that was well anchored among students, teachers and researchers. This analysis was critical of a move. After this the deputy president and EECS head of school wrote a second set of materials which were never made public.”
”Now, a decision has been made that goes against the recommendations from the first analysis. What is even the point of spending time on student representation and other meetings if the board just follows the wills of the bosses?”
Despite these criticisms, the leadership of KTH is hopeful that this will be a chance to improve the education at KTH. The press release says:
”Concentrating KTH's activities on three instead of five campuses is intended to strengthen research, education and collaboration. For prospective students, there are several advantages to a more complete academic environment, such as a more appropriate range of courses, greater freedom of choice and less overlap between different programmes.”
Many students are worried that moving education from Kista and Södertälje will make the already-crowded main campus even more crowded. In the material published on KTH’s website back in October, ITM estimated that the loss of campus Södertälje will require an additional 200 study spots on the main campus. EECS estimates that the loss of Kista will remove 570 study spots. There are no current concrete plans for how these study spots will be replaced.
In conclusion, this decision will affect all students at KTH in the coming years, whether you study in Kista, Södertälje, or neither. The main campus will most likely become even more crowded. At the same time, there is a chance that this will improve education, but the plans are currently vague and will become clearer in the upcoming months.