Why did Malmö University give recycled guns to PhD graduates?

We’re all doing our best to get into Greta Thunberg’s good books these days; checking if we can take the train to a tropical island for our annual vacation, Googling ‘can you grow your own avocados’ in a bid to reduce our carbon footprint.

Why did Malmö University give recycled guns to PhD graduates?
Photo: Malmö University PhD graduation ceremony

Indeed, Sweden is often cited as being a bastion of recycling — having to import waste from Norway just to keep the recycling plants ticking over. And Malmö University, with its ethos of working towards a sustainable future, loves to recycle. You name it, they recycle it: paper (no brainer), food waste, cardboard, lightbulbs, metal, batteries, guns…

…GUNS? There’s not normally a ‘gun recycling’ bin, surely? 

Well, of course not, but that doesn’t mean to say that guns cannot be recycled, and Malmö University has the evidence to prove it. 

It is a long journey for a gun to make — 6,000 miles if Google is to be believed — from a part of the world where illegal firearms have caused unimaginable horror, to an academic award ceremony at Malmö University.

However, it’s a journey that has been made all the same. Malmö University is keen not just to talk the talk, but to walk the walk, and if that means using recycled illegal firearms from Central America to honour its recently graduated doctors, then so be it.

Find out more about studying at Malmö University

You see, Malmö University was founded on an ethos of inclusivity and sustainability. Just consider the faculty names; they might look unconventional, ‘Technology and Society’ and ‘Health and Society’, for example, but the ‘society’ part is considered equally as important as the subject field itself.

Photo: A Humanium graduation ring

Using the ‘peace metal’, known as Humanium, is a natural progression of the journey the institution has taken since its inception just over 20 years ago.

The ceremonial rings, recently presented to graduating PhD candidates, were made from a metal produced by the non-profit organisation IM Swedish Development Partner. Just like Malmö University, they are big on making the world a better place with their aim of getting illegal guns off the streets. 

As it stands, there are hundreds of millions of illegal firearms in the world and as a result, someone is shot every minute. We can all agree that isn’t good, no matter where you stand on the global warming debate.  

So how do you get your hands on one of these rings? Well, applying for a master’s programme at Malmö University is the best way to get started, and there is no better time than, well, now. Maybe you share our vision of creating an all-round better society, or perhaps you are just interested in impressing Greta at a future Extinction Rebellion protest. Either way, now is the time to take a look at Malmö University's sparkling new master’s programmes.  

True to form, many of the of new programmes, including Culture and Change, Leadership and Organisation, and Computer Science: Innovation for Change in a Digital Society have an emphasis on understanding the challenges we face as a society today. The purpose being to install an advanced understanding and knowledge of the critical perspectives required to tackle these challenges.

You can find a list of Malmö University's master’s programmes here

Many of these master’s programmes will prepare you to advance to a PhD level, and who knows, maybe one day you will be the proud owner of your very own peace metal ring… and the knowledge to make the world a better place.

This article is sponsored by Malmö University.


‘They feel conned’: Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules

Sweden's top universities are to call for doctoral students to be exempted from Sweden's tough new permanent residency rules, arguing that it will damage both academic standards and national competitiveness.

'They feel conned': Swedish universities fight for PHDs hit by new residency rules
At Lund Technical University, a majority of doctoral students are international. Photo: Kennet Ruona/LTU

In a post on Wednesday, Astrid Söderbergh Widding, the chair of Association of Swedish Higher Education Institutions, said that Sweden’s universities had agreed to submit a joint letter to the government “very soon”, calling for parliament to put in place a special exemption for PHD students to make it easier to stay in Sweden after their studies. 

The parliament, she wrote, “should introduce an exemption for doctoral students and young researchers from the requirement to be financially self-sufficient”. 

Previously, doctoral students were eligible for a permanent residence permit if they had lived in Sweden with a residence permit for doctoral studies for four out of the past seven years. Apart from a slim set of requirements, this was granted more or less automatically.

But according to Sweden’s new Migration Act, which was introduced in July this year as comprehensive legislation to control the number of asylum applications, they now need to be able to additionally show that they can support themselves financially for at least a year and half.

The new law means that the rules for permanent residency are now the same for all categories of applicants, including doctoral students.

Stefan Bengtsson, the rector at Chalmers University of Technology, said that the change would mean as many as 400 to 500 doctoral students, many of whom have built up considerable expertise, might be unable to stay in Sweden.

“This makes for an uncertain future for those from outside of Europe who have applied to come to Sweden for an academic career, which is cause for great concern and disappointment among those who came here under other circumstances,” he told The Local. “Some of them may, of course, feel like they’ve been conned

But what was even more worrying, he said, would be the impact the change to the law might have in the longer term. 

“This change to the law could contribute to giving Sweden a bad reputation. This will create difficulties in recruiting internationally and damage our long-term skills supply.”


At Lund University, the majority of doctoral students in the science and technical faculties are from outside Europe, while Söderbergh Widding, who is also vice chancellor at Stockholm University, estimated that about half of doctoral students were international. 

Söderbergh Widding told the TT newswire that the change was “a devastating death blow”, which put to waste a “previously hard-won battle to make it possible for doctoral students to obtain a permanent residency permit after four years of studies”. 

She said in her letter that the change contradicted the research policy proposition from December 2020, which stated that the “number of foreign doctoral students who stay in Sweden should increase”, and said that giving residency to doctoral students was a good way to increase this.  

Ole Petter Ottersen, the rector of the elite Karolinska medical university, told the newswire that he thought the change in residency laws would damage Swedish competitiveness. 

“This is not good for Sweden. This will damage our ability to attract and recruit talent from other countries. For a country that lies on the periphery, the goal should be to make it easier, not harder, to recruit competence.”