Today I received an email from a PhD student that started with the not-very enthusiastic headline: 

Information only of importance to Swedish-speaking PhD students

followed by Swedish text.

To the doctoral student mailing list of this Medical University comes a lot of Swedish content. Fine, since most of it goes directly into my trash (yes, I have that egoistic view that if you really wanna communicate something to me, you make it understandable).

I would have erased that email too, if it hasn’t had such intriguing opening. So I went on and Google Translate made the magic.

The subject? Apparently, many groups at Karolinska are now recycling chairs and are recruiting new representatives from the student body.


In these positions we find 1 spot for the Senate, that elect the Rector and Vice Rector (soon to vote) and 10 sits for the Hearing Assembly, organ that support/suggest the Senate for the Rector election.

Apparently, such positions require you to speak pretty good Swedish, since you are surrounded by medical doctors, professors and administrative bodies who… cannot speak English during the Senate meeting. The Karolinska Institutet Senate meetings. Justifiable? It’s a balance, but know I have good rights to remind these people (since they remind me pretty punctually) that they sit in the Senate of one the most important and prestigious Medical University in Europe, which praises top research level also thanks to international integration. Nothing more to add on this.

Continuing my journey into I-Am-Not-Important-For-You email, I found four vacant positions for as many working groups that focus on Postgraduate Education. Those groups discuss subjects like the recruitment rules for new PhD students, quality of PhD education and KID-founding*.

Now, a working group sounds like something more relaxed then a Senate. This name would suggest to me a room full of interested and devoted people that put efforts to accomplish their tasks. Any task, any kind of people. Moreover, we are talking about _that_ postgraduate education whose official examination is in English and enrolls not a minority of international students.

Why these groups are precluded from who doesn’t speaks Swedish? I am the first to  recognize the importance for a foreigner to learn the native language of the place where he/she goes to live. Moreover, I think it’s his/her duty to put efforts to accomplish on this. But here it’s a very different case: these are positions in groups that treat important subjects for the Campus life, where the only way to achieve the best view of problems and get good solutions is to involve the best people interested on doing so. Those individuals, commonly, comes from dissimilar faunas, with different backgrounds, but with shared sense of responsibility and will to change things for the better. Lastly, they may not necessarily be knowledgeable in Swedish.

I am not aware of reasons why this student recruitment must engage Swedish speakers only. If anyone would like to highlight me on this, is most welcome. In English, please.


* KID is the most prominent financial support that KI gives to group leaders for PhD student recruitment.

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