The history of Stockholm Academic Forum

The idea of a joint forum for the universities in Stockholm region was born in 1996 in Stockholm Academic Rectors’ Convention, an association of Vice-Chancellors and University Directors from the largest universities in Stockholm. They found that despite Stockholm’s enormous power in academic education and research, the city was rarely promoted as an academic destination.

The idea was formulated as such: ‘Stockholm Academic Forum will profile Stockholm as a national and international academic center by being a common meeting place for collaboration and dialogue between universities and university colleges in Stockholm and their contacts with the outside world.’

The organization was first based at the Kulturhuset premises at Sergels Torg in 1998. Since then, it has had different orientations and adapted to a variety of existing needs. This has always been Stockholm Academic Forum’s strength; despite its size, it has always been easy to navigate and cater to the needs of the biggest academic institutions.

Three different phases

Stockholm Academic Forum’s history can be divided into three different phases. Initially, the main focus was the visibility of the universities in the city. Therefore, for the first ten years of its operation, the Stockholm Academic Forum offices were in Kulturhuset at Sergels Torg. Stockholm Academic Forum offered open lectures and science exhibitions to the public, and anyone interested could get information on university studies. Stockholm Academic Forum’s operation in Kulturhuset ended in 2008, which was when the organization relocated to Klarabergsgatan. Since then Staf has relocated yet again and is now situated at Narvavägen.

The change in 2008 also signaled an alteration in Stockholm Academic Forum’s activities, steering the focus to a regional agenda for the academic institutions in Stockholm. The operation went from being merely informative to being strategic. Stockholm Academic Forum compiled and presented studies on academia in Stockholm, worked closely with the Administrative County Board and the Regional County Council Planning Office, and participated in the work of the regional development plan. During this phase, Stockholm Academic Forum also led several EU-funded projects.

From 2013 onwards, Stockholm Academic Forum has focused on internationalization and the profiling of Stockholm as an academic destination. In 2015, Stockholm Academic Forum moved to Valhallavägen 79, in the middle of the university cluster at Östra Station, in the northern part of Stockholm City.

From six to 18 universities

Initially, Stockholm Academic Forum consisted of six members, including Stockholm School of Economics, Karolinska Institutet, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm University, Södertörn University and the then Stockholm Institute of Education. Soon after, the number of members expanded with the Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, the University College of Dance, and eventually the University College of Opera. In 2005, Stockholm City became a member and, in 2006, Staf opened for all university colleges in the city, which meant 11 additional members. Over the years, the number of members has varied. The last member of Staf was Beckmans College of Design, in 2017. Today, Stockholm Academic Forum consists of 18 universities and the City of Stockholm.