Published: 24-08-2023 10:27 | Updated: 24-08-2023 10:30

Annika Östman Wernerson: Onward towards the 2023 autumn term

A portrait of President Annika Östman Wernerson
President Annika Östman Wernerson. Photo: Martin Stenmark

Welcome to a new academic year! Even though many of you have already returned to work after the summer break, it’s certainly when students start returning to our campuses that Karolinska Institutet becomes the gloriously vibrant place that a university is meant to be.

The new autumn term commences on 28 August, and I’m really looking forward to it! At the reception ceremony on 1 September, the academic vice president for education Ewa Ehrenborg and I will be joining the student unions and many other representatives of the university’s various activities in welcoming to KI all new students starting on one of our beginners’ programmes. 

The autumn is always a kind of fresh start and no matter what the summer has been like for you all, my hope is that you’ve had time for the recuperation that’s so important to a sustainable and at times intense working and studying life.  

I spent my own summer relaxing and recharging my batteries, mostly in the blueberry forest with my family and my dog. Without this, I wouldn’t be able to take on the challenges of our complex world with its rapid pace of change and heightened tensions. 

At the same time as we’re all looking forward to continuing – or starting – exciting research projects, meeting inquisitive and motivated young minds and creating together the best educational environment for tomorrow’s healthcare professionals, we cannot overlook changes in political priorities for the academic sector or the security situation in Sweden and around the world. You can read more about security at Karolinska Institutet given the raised terror threat here.

Political control of academia

KI is an engaged, global university able to influence our world through fact-based knowledge and contribute to decisions based on scientific grounds. But it cannot be denied that we’re also ourselves influenced by opposing forces in the form of global unrest and threats to research and education.  

Earlier this summer, the government announced its decision to stop, with immediate effect, all development research grants, slashing SEK 180 million from the Swedish Research Council budget and depriving researchers, including successful KI researchers, of valuable funding. This is yet another example of the tightening political control of academia. But we and our partners and other commentators both inside and outside the academic sector are uniting to raise our voices in protest. Important decisions must be preceded by dialogue and firmly anchored within the nation’s universities and university colleges.  

The new government research committee set up in the summer, with KI’s Professor Anna Wedell as one of its elected members, is thus a very welcome initiative. The committee is to act as advisor to the government on important matters, including the forthcoming Research and Innovation Policy Bill. 

There is more good news. For instance, since the summer of 2022, KI has been the recipient of funds totalling approximately SEK 280 from several EU research programmes. The money is being invested in no fewer than 33 research and innovation projects within a selected range of societal challenges.

Upcoming dialogue meetings with staff and students

I also always delight in the message of love Stockholm Pride spreads as well, and many of our staff and students took part in the parade as it wound through Stockholm on 5 August. 

Looking ahead, we have much to be getting on with, together and on different arenas for our research and education, and the university management – Vice-President Martin Bergö, University Director Veronika Sundström and I – can’t wait to get stuck in: to work with the priorities that the university and academic sector need to face, to start our departmental tours of KI and to continue our dialogue meetings with the staff and students. These meetings will be taking place in September on the Solna (11/9) and Flemingsberg (12/9) campuses, and this time they will be conducted in English. Pre-registration is required. Hope to see you many of you there!

Dialogue is needed and so essential to our collaborations within and outside academia. I’m therefore also looking forward to meeting Minister for Social Affairs and Public Health Jakob Forssmed, who will be paying a visit to KI on 28 August – that same day as the autumn term begins.  

Welcome back! 



Latest updates from the President

Annika Östman Wernersonwrites regularly about issues that are important to the university under the heading "Latest updates from the President". The articles are published on KI's website and found at News and updates from the University Management. She also contributes regularly to the internal newsletter KI News. Previously published texts can be read in the news archive.