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Stockholm University still attractive option for foreign students

Stockholm University still attractive option for foreign students

Published: 11 Jan 2011 11:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 11 Jan 2011 11:11 GMT+01:00

The next academic year will be the first in which many foreign students will have to pay to study at Swedish universities. But Stockholm University hopes the number of overseas students will remain just as high as in the past.

When university fees are introduced for many foreign students this year, it may mean that fewer people from outside the EU will be studying at Sweden's top universities.

Stockholm University, one of the country's most reputable seats of learning, expects overseas applications to fall, but wants to maintain the number of successful applicants at its current level.

Furthermore, Paul Parker, marketing manager at the school's external relations office, says the fees will greatly improve the quality of applications.

"We have had a very high number of applications simply because education is free. We will see more applications from students who are better qualified and a dramatic reduction in unserious applications," he says.

The continued ability of Stockholm University, Sweden's largest, to attract the best students, is due in large part to its location as the capital of Scandinavia and its access to Sweden's careers and jobs market in the capital city.

"Many people from English-speaking countries visit the website. Apart from visitors within Sweden, most of our traffic comes from Germany, the US, the UK, India, France, Italy, Pakistan, Russia and Iran," says Parker.

Officials expect that the most talented applicants of the future, like those of today, will be drawn by the institution's stellar reputation.

The school's international standing has improved significantly in both the latest Times Higher Education's World University Rankings, where it climbed to 129th place, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities, where it rose to 79th place.

Applications for admission in autumn 2011 close on January 17th, so exact figures on how fees have affected applications have not yet been compiled.

"This is the first time fees have been introduced and it is the first application period, so we have no statistics, but the likelihood as we've seen in Denmark and in the Netherlands is that [applications] will drop profoundly," he says.

According to Parker, the school receives each year many thousands of international applications. These applications lead in turn to offers being sent out a few hundred select students, though not all offers are accepted.

He estimates that the school will receive around 1,000 international students in the coming year. While many of these will be exchange students, a proportion will be master's students from outside of Europe.

As students from the EEA and Switzerland will be exempt from the fees, the university will continue to be an attractive option for European students.

In order that the most talented international students can still afford to come to Stockholm, the university is launching a new scholarship scheme to help them out.

In addition to the school's own scholarships, the Swedish Institute will continue to provide scholarships to the 12 countries that with which Sweden has long-term development partnerships.

"In the case of students coming from development agreement countries, the scholarships cover all costs, including living expenses," explains Parker.

"The universities also have scholarship schemes for talented non-EEA students from countries such as Russia and Turkey. Your fees are covered, but you must provide your own living costs," he adds.

Today, there are around 1,100 international students at Stockholm University. Two-thirds of them come to Stockholm through one of the 950 exchange agreements the university has signed with around 400 top international seats of learning.

Around 200 separate courses are available to exchange students. Both exchange students and those who study full courses in Stockholm are attracted by the close relationships between research and teaching.

They are also drawn to the informal first-name interaction between teachers and students - a sharp contrast to home for students from many other parts of the world, particularly for those from many Asian countries.

Stockholm University offers about 80 master's programmes, most of which are taught in English. The school also offers master's programmes in Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish taught in the respective languages. The January deadline applies to 200 study programmes and 1,900 different courses.

Popular programmes among international students include the University's School of Business, the Department of IT and Computer Science, Centre for Fashion Studies, the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, the Institute for International Economic Studies, the Institute of International Education and the Department of English.

Applications for admission to Stockholm University for the autumn 2011 term close on January 17th.

Related links:

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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