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Stockholm University invests in international students
Sumithra Velupillai, PhD student at Stockholm University.

Stockholm University invests in international students

Published: 15 Jul 2011 12:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Jul 2011 12:17 GMT+02:00

Stockholm University is not only one of the largest universities in Scandinavia, with around 50,000 students, but is also generally ranked among the top 100 universities worldwide. That makes it a great choice for prospective students in search of a vibrant and diverse study environment.

But there's more to the university than a large student body and top quality education. A brief glance at Stockholm University's campus today shows an exciting cosmopolitan mix of students from around the globe.

At any one time, as many as a thousand international students, including hundreds of exchange students who choose to visit the university for one or two terms, can be found on the buzzing campus.

The institution has recently made great strides in its efforts to further international cooperation, in a bid to remain at the forefront of internationalization of the higher education sector.

"This is something we've been working with for years," Kåre Bremer, Vice Chancellor of Stockholm University, told The Local.

"In my eyes it's simple: we're living in an increasingly globalised world, and have to be able to compete internationally. It's no longer enough to think nationally, we have to think internationally. We want the best, and recruiting only from Sweden won't be enough."

Earlier this year, Stockholm University's board voted to set aside 38 million kronor ($6 million) for increasing international research cooperation and recruiting overseas students.

The cash will be made available in 2012 and 2013 but the internationalization investment, known as Stockholm University Academic Initiative, is already well underway.

Sumithra Velupillai, a PhD student at Stockholm University's Department of Computer and Systems Sciences, is one of the scientists who have already discovered the many benefits of this kind of international cooperation.

She has been pooling her efforts with those of Dr. Wendy Chapman, of the University of California in San Diego (UCSD).

Together with their research teams, they have initiated a cooperative project in the field of health informatics, called Interlock - Inter-Language Collaboration in Clinical Natural Language Processing.

Such an interchange makes greater knowledge gains possible, and has already led to a valuable exchange of experience between the two countries.

"For me, the value lies in the possibility to apply, compare and develop the methods I've been working with, in a research team that's very prominent within my subject," Sumithra explained.

Cooperative research isn't the sole gain to be achieved through the Stockholm University Academic Initiative, however.

The investment will also finance visits from prominent guest lecturers, research trips, as well as ambassadorship activities, aimed at increasing connections between Stockholm University and other participating institutions.

Student scholarships are another important side of the project.

The fall semester of 2011 will see the arrival of the first paying overseas students, following a recent government decision mandating that students from outside of the EU, EEA and Switzerland must pay a tuition fee.

Nevertheless, Stockholm University has awarded a number of scholarships, mainly at Masters level.

Around 30 students will have their fees paid for through these scholarships in the coming school year.

Stockholm University has a number of partner universities from outside the EU region, whose students will be at the front of the scholarship queue.

Scholarships may be awarded to any non-EU students, except those who come from countries with which Sweden has an existing development relationship, as these students are already eligible for scholarships from the Swedish Institute.

Four universities from China and no fewer than nine from the United States are among those prioritized.

"We started with big countries, where we know that there are many students who are particularly interested in coming to Stockholm," explained Elisabet Idermark, coordinator for Stockholm University Academic Initiative.

Lena Gerholm is Pro Vice-Chancellor and chair of the Stockholm University Academic Initiative. She points out that interest has been great.

"One might ask if a large university really needs a special investment in international cooperation, seeing as how research is mobile by nature," Gerholm said to university magazine Universitetsnytt.

"But the number of applications we've received testifies to the great need for extra support," she explained.

More information about Stockholm University's scholarships can be found here.

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

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