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Published: 2019-06-26 15:55 | Updated: 2019-06-26 15:55

The importance of a break

Fourteen first-year bachelor students from the CN Yang Scholars Programme at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore recently spent an intensive five days at Karolinska Institutet. The grand finale of the visit was the group’s own presentation and summary of the week, attended by Professor Gunnar Nilsson.

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The students from NTU visited among other facilities the Aging Research Center.

Research and new facilities

Robert Harris, Deputy Vice President for Doctoral Education, welcomed the students on their first day and gave them an introduction to KI’s history. He also briefly presented doctoral education at KI and talked about the current KI-NTU collaboration. The students learned about the “green light” system and found that to be very interesting and something to bring back home.. Apart from visiting many of the new facilities, such as the new hospital, NEO and Bioclinicum, they also attended lectures in biomedicine, imaging techniques and population science focusing on aging. Singapore has a large aging population and is facing many challenges, just like Sweden. The students were impressed by the twin registry and learned about some of the epidemiological research done at MEB . One reflection the students made during their presentation was that medical doctors and researchers have more separate professions in Singapore and that the close interaction between research and health care in Sweden must have many positive effects for both patients and research.

Problem solving and the value of “fika”

The Unit for Bioentrepreneurship engaged students in a creative interactive workshop using “reverse engineering” (making the fictional, in this case global health, problem worst possible in order to collaborate in problem solving for creative solutions) which they really appreciated. Other things the students very much appreciated were the cool and dry climate and the Swedish “fika”. Apart from the tasty cookies and buns they really saw the value of how a cup of coffee and taking a break opens for networking and discussions something they feel is less prioritized in Singapore. People feel there is no time for breaks.

Effects of mobility

Gunnar Nilsson, former pro-dean for higher education at KI with a responsibility for internationalisation, and still engaged in internationalisation in the new organisation, has himself been on a teaching sabbatical at NTU and enjoyed the students’ presentation. He made parallels to his own first week in Singapore. Just like he feels the time he spent in Singapore has changed him, he was convinced that this week in Stockholm will have future impact on the students. It has been a “refreshing break for them”, as one of the students expressed.

The students where also informed about possibilities to continue studies on master’s level, so who knows, maybe we will have one or two of the fourteen students back on campus in a near future!

Background on collaboration between KI and NTU

  • In 2008, a MoU was signed with NTU and in 2009 an agreement was signed for a joint doctoral programme (double degree programme). Six doctoral students have a PhD in the programme. Four doctoral students are active right now.
  • Student exchange agreements are established withion Biomedicine. During the period 2008/2009-2018/2019, 40 NTU students have come to KI and 14 have traveled from KI to NTU within the framework of these exchange agreements.