Sweden’s universities to charge non-EU students

March 6, 2011

Swedish universities are at a crossroads. Starting in September, all students from outside the European Union will pay tuition fees.

While tuition will remain free for home and EU students, others will be charged fees that will vary by institution, but may average around SKr125,000 (£11,950) a year.

The shift, which is part of a broader programme of cuts to public spending, has left universities fearing for the future of their sector and that of the Swedish economy.

According to the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education, half of the 36,600 international students enrolled at Swedish universities in 2008-09 were from outside Europe. In the previous four years, when higher education was free to all, the proportion of students from Asia increased from 24 to 40 per cent, with most hailing from China, Pakistan, Iran, Bangladesh and India.

Initial data suggest that the introduction of fees is already radically changing behaviour.

Applications from non-EU students for entry in 2011 are down by 86 per cent on 2010, according to the Swedish Agency for Higher Education Services. Applications to master’s level courses have fallen by 73 per cent.

Git Claesson Pipping, general secretary of the Swedish Association of University Teachers, said that many postgraduate courses will be forced to close.

“What we expect is that the number of courses given to master’s students at that level will decrease,” Dr Claesson Pipping said. “We have too few home students who study scientific and technical courses.”

Some fear that the introduction of fees may damage Sweden’s high-level skills in science and technology.

Fewer master’s students and master’s programmes would result in a smaller pool of potential doctoral candidates, and as doctoral students often provide teaching support at universities, the introduction of fees could also have an impact on teaching capacity.

Eva Malmström Jonsson, deputy president of the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, underlined the contribution that international students make to the country’s competitiveness by acting as advocates for its universities and its economy.

Diane Pecorari, senior lecturer in education at Mälardalen University, expressed a further concern. “We’re all very worried that we’re going to have a student body that sees itself as a client and will be more demanding,” she said.

Despite all this, the move is unlikely to generate extra money for Sweden’s academy. Although the new legislation allows universities to charge, fee levels may only cover costs.

“We don’t anticipate that the introduction of fees will bring in lots of money,” Professor Malmström Jonsson said.

“We hope that we can attract a reasonable number of fee-paying students this autumn, but we know that we will have to work hard over the years to come in order to spread knowledge about our strengths and qualities.”

hannah.fearn@tsleducation.com

You've reached your article limit.

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Recruitment - Human Resources Office

University Of Nottingham Ningbo China

Outreach Officer

Gsm London

Professorship in Geomatics

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Professor of European History

Newcastle University

Head of Department

University Of Chichester
See all jobs

Most Commented

men in office with feet on desk. Vintage

Three-quarters of respondents are dissatisfied with the people running their institutions

students use laptops

Researchers say students who use computers score half a grade lower than those who write notes

Canal houses, Amsterdam, Netherlands

All three of England’s for-profit universities owned in Netherlands

As the country succeeds in attracting even more students from overseas, a mixture of demographics, ‘soft power’ concerns and local politics help explain its policy

Participants enjoying bubble soccer

Critics call proposal for world-first professional recognition system ‘demented’