International graduates shun Sweden

New visa rules have failed to halt a decline in foreign graduates applying for work in Sweden after graduation

August 16, 2016
Source: istock
Sweden's efforts to retain more of its international graduates are failing, new figures suggest

Very few international students at Swedish universities remain in the Nordic state after they have graduated, new figures show.

Just 212 work permits were awarded to non-European Union citizens graduating from university in Sweden in 2015, down from 849 in 2013, according to data from the country’s Migration Agency.

The sharp dip comes despite the introduction of new visa rules two years ago to retain more skilled foreign workers, which give non-EU graduates six months after their graduation to apply for jobs and work permits.

More than 9,000 students from non-EU or non-European Economic Area countries were enrolled at Swedish universities in 2015, according to a report by English-language news site The Local.

The lack of foreign graduates staying in Sweden has been attributed in part to discrimination by employers against foreign-born nationals, while the need to have a high competency in Swedish has also been noted by some international graduates.

Representatives from Sweden's Confederation of Professional Associations urged employers in July to drop the need for perfect Swedish when filling jobs, said the news site, quoting a story in the newspaper Dagens Nyheter. 

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