Annika Pontén takes the helm temporarily

The government has decided that Annika Pontén is to take over as acting head of UKÄ (Swedish Higher Education Authority) until a new head is appointed. Previously she was deputy head of the authority and the head of our Department of Higher Education Analysis.

Annika Pontén. Photo by: Denny Lorentzen

Annika Pontén. Photo by: Denny Lorentzen

“The last few days have been turbulent but the Swedish Higher Education Authority will continue to operate as usual. We have a large number of important tasks to complete and in a few weeks the new quality assurance system will be launched,” Annika Pontén points out.

Harriet Wallberg left her position as University Chancellor last Monday.

The Government is about to begin the process of recruiting a new head and the earliest this can be expected to be completed is the beginning of next year, says Annika Pontén, who will in the meantime serve as acting head of the authority.

What is your background?

I have been involved in higher education for almost the whole of my working life. I began my career as an analyst dealing with educational policy issues for TCO. I then spend seven years working for the Ministry of Education’s unit for HEIs. During these years I served under three different ministers. I have also managed to work for two HEIs: as head of Uppsala University’s International Office and as Chief Administrative Officer at the Royal Institute of Art. I became head of the analytical department at the National Agency for Higher Education in 2010 and three years later the agency was reorganised and became Swedish Higher Education Authority.

I have also made two brief international excursions to the Council of Europe and the EU Commission. When I returned to Sweden I was able to see how smoothly and flexibly Swedish bureaucracy functions. As a public official in Sweden you have a totally different possibility of exerting an influence and putting your skills to work.

“I am proud of being a graduate from Lund University and Political Science is the major subject in my degree.”

What is going to happen at the Swedish Higher Education Authority now?

“There will be no change of course and it’s still full steam ahead. Just to mention a few of our tasks, a report on the new quality assurance system has to be submitted to the Government on 1 October, the Department of Higher Education Analysis will continue its work of providing a broad view of the higher education sector, mainly with the use of statistics, and we will continue to develop our legal supervision of the HEIs. We have a number of major government assignments to manage, for instance together with the National Board of Health and Welfare we are going to review how the supply of trained staff in health and medical care can be assured. This task is one that poses particular challenges as the health service is a gigantic area and there are many different stakeholders that have to work together.”

What characterises the Swedish Higher Education Authority as a workplace?

“Now that I have been working here for a number of years there are three things that I really appreciate: immense knowledge, strong commitment and a lot of happy laughter!”

What do you look forward to the most?

“Being given this opportunity to obtain a better overall view and being able to participate in all that we do and the important tasks that have been assigned to the Swedish Higher Education Authority. I am also looking forward to the continued dialogue we shall be having with the HEIs in a number of fields.”