Swedes are told to cut choice

December 16, 2005

Sweden's National Agency for Higher Education is urging the Government to ensure a better fit between university courses and labour market demands.

Chancellor Sigbrit Franke, head of the agency, which conducts quality audits of higher education, told the daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter : "There must be more control at national level."

Ms Franke suggests that universities and colleges of higher education should negotiate a funding contract with the Government to safeguard the needs of industry and the labour market.

Janerik Gidlund, vice-chancellor of Örebro University, told the newspaper:

"We can't possibly respond to the demands of the local employment office on a quarterly basis. Universities are autonomous because it was decided that education couldn't be centrally steered to meet the needs of the labour market. Why should the (Government) now be any better at doing this than before?"

Swedish universities and colleges of higher education are funded on the number of full-time students enrolled. Universities may offer courses as they see fit and take as many students as they like. The Government is only legally entitled to set a quota for the number of medical students.

According to Ms Franke, this system encourages universities to prioritise popular courses to attract more applicants.

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